I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads, inundated with books I’m d...moreThis review also features on my review site Tea in the Treetops
I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads, inundated with books I’m desperate to read, fantastic books for the most part as I’ve gotten better at reading between the lines of book blurbs and other reviews at sifting out books I will generally like. What all these wonderful books and large to read piles mean its hat I have very little patience for books that I’m not enjoying. Unfortunately Side Effects May Vary is one of those books and after wasting a week procrastinating on and off reading this one and only getting to the half way mark, I’ve decided not to finish reading it.
My big issue with this book was how remarkably negative the entire reading experience was. The topic was negative, the characters were all negative, nothing good seemed to happen, even Alice going into remission managed to be an unfulfilling downer of an experience. This brings me to the character of Alice she was a horrible person, even for a “mean girl” she blew me away with how knowingly manipulative she was, how she willing to use people and then cast them aside, it was incredibly painful to read and I seriously did not care what happened to her in the end at the point when I decided to stop.
The actual writing of this book was well done and it flowed well, I actually liked the alternating chapters between Alice and Harvey as well as the then and now aspect which gave the book a patchwork narration style that added to the build up. It is a pity that the actual content just didn’t do it for me as I think Julie Murphy definitely has some talent and I will be interested in reading future books of hers which hopefully have a story that is less of a Debbie downer.
I’m sure this book will appeal to many people but for me I just think life is too short and there are just too many good books to waste time on something that I’m not enjoying! (less)
Michael Glass didn't scream. Instead, he made a terrible keening noise in the back of his throat, arched his back, and began to flail violently inside his zipped-up sleeping bag. Fabric shredded under vampire strength, and insulation bulged out of the tears as he fought his way free, but even once it was off him he just kept… flailing."
Not even 5 pages in, and my heart was already hinting at the intense beating my emotions were going to get while reading Black Dawn. In the world of Morganville, Texas, Black Dawn is the twelfth book in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series.
I am a relatively new fan of Rachel Caine, having only powered through the entire Morganville Vampire series in the first week of June 2011 (and then eagerly anticipating the release of the then soon-to-be-released Bite Club!) New fan or not, the universe Rachel Caine has created continues to make the reader invest in the wellbeing of its characters.
Black Dawn does not begin quietly. In fact there are very few moments in the story where you are not fearing for one or more of the characters lives.
Claire Danvers describes the situation in Morganville best in the opening chapter:
"There were things out there in the world, things that vampires feared, and now those things were here. She was only seconds out of a very light, fitful sleep, but she knew that the nightmares had followed her effortlessly right into the real world. The draug. They weren't vampires; they were something else, something that moved through water, formed out of it, dragged vampires down to a slow and awful death."
Last Breath left us with the draug having infiltrated Morganville, feeding off the vampires and bringing a new fear to the towns inhabitants. Black Dawn continues right where Last Breath left us; in the middle of the pain and confusion that yes, the vampires in the Morganville Vampires universe do have a reason to fear for their continued existence. Claire, Shane Collins, Michael Glass and Eve Rosser are once again uncomfortably allied with Oliver, Myrnin and the other vampires to destroy the draug and try to save Amelie's life.
I could not choose just one hero from this book - Claire, Eve, Michael, Shane and a few surprise characters all brought their best baddassness to the fight. The dialogue between characters, particularly Shane and Michael, and of course Myrnin, had me laughing aloud (which may have gotten me a few looks on the train). It felt familiar to read their comfortable banter, and it was an enjoyable respite from the more intense situations dominating the storyline. While the main premise of Black Dawn follows the fight to survive the draug infestation, Rachel Caine absolutely delivers on the relationships between Eve and Michael, and Shane and Claire - and the complications that Myrnin presents.
As with Last Breath, we not only follow the story through the eyes of Claire, but other central characters Shane, Michael and Eve take us through their story fighting the draug, the political unbalance and the betrayals that will leave you on the last page anticipating the next adventure in Bitter Blood (Book 13 of Morganville Vampires)!
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Black Dawn is released tomorrow, the 1st May 2012.(less)
This series is really a lot of fun and the third installment of the Lorien Legacies is filled with action and character development. In The Rise of Nine the book is written from the perspectives of Four, Six and Seven giving you a really well rounded view of the Garde and their journey to meet up with one another. By the end of this book we’ve met everyone except for Number 5 and these guys are ready to kick some Mogadorian butt and get back to the planet Lorien. The plot doesn’t really move forward in this novel it’s more a rallying book with the story centering around the Garde centralising ready to take on the Mogadorian leader who has now landed on earth. Six, Seven and Ten are on a mission to find Number Eight while Number Four and Nine have just escaped from the Mogadorian base and are recovering trying to work out how to rescue Sam and meet up with Number Six.
Like the first two novels in this series the writing is really nothing spectacular, it’s very generic first person filled with a lot of action. This isn’t a book you read for the prose it’s definitely more a fast easy read that takes you on an exciting adventure. The character of Four is less frustrating in this novel, he’s still moping about Sarah and Sam but I think being around the gung ho Number Nine makes him less whingey and definitely makes his story more entertaining then it was in book 2.
Six is her usual kick ass rash self coming to everyones rescue, she’s definitely shaping into the leader of this group which is interesting because they keep making hints and references to Number Four being the reincarnation of Pittacus Lore who was head elder on planet Lorien.
Number Seven really grew in this story taking charge of her legacies and coming to terms with the world outside the convent she’s lived in her entire life until this point. She has some truly brave and selfless moments where she manages to save the lives of her fellow garde at different moments of this book really proving her strenth and core role in this group.
Number Eight is introduced and hes an interesting character, a bit egocentric for my liking but he did mellow as the book went on and I’ll be interested in seeing more of him in subsequent novels.
There is hints of romance throughout this book though nothing really definite comes about. The whole Sarah, Six and Four triangle is referenced a few times and there is some definite flirting between number Seven and Eight leading me to believe that this relationship is definitely on the cards. Sarah makes a reappearance later on in this book and you do get more information about her major betrayal at the end of book 2 so it’s good to see how this plot furthers the story and her relationship with Number Four.
I felt that the major showdown at the end of this novel was a little sudden. I really didn’t expect this to happen until the last book of the series and obviously while everything didn’t wrap up in book 3 I really did feel like it was a bit rushed. What happened to the Garde meeting up and training together before taking on the Mogadorians and their leader? The whole encounter just made me feel like this was a rash bunch of teenagers and really I’m surprised that no one died.
While there are some plot holes and the writing is a little basic, this is a fast fun read that I think anyone who likes a bit of Sci-Fi action can enjoy. I read the book in a few hours and even though it’s definitely not one of the best reads I’ve had this year, I will definitely be continuing on with the series.
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Rise of Nine is released today, the 22nd August 2012.(less)
Timeless fits into one of my favorite genres – time travel. As soon as I read the blurb I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it.
Ta...moreTimeless fits into one of my favorite genres – time travel. As soon as I read the blurb I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it.
Taking place in New York City, this story centers around Michele who is forced to move in with her wealthy blue blood grandparents after a shock accident. Friendless and alone in a new and unfamiliar world she discovers a diary which sends her back in time to 1910 where she meets the man quite literally from her dreams.
While the prose and story are in parts clumsily written, I sincerely enjoyed reading this book. The author managed to inject such sheer enthusiasm and passion into the story you can’t help but go along for the ride page by page.
The plot is intriguing however in parts it really felt quite rushed and would have benefited from a slightly more leisurely pace, in order to give readers more time to fully comprehend what is happening and the mechanics of how the time travel works.
The character development was also poor especially with the 2 central characters- Phillip and Michele. The instant connection they apparently feel for one another just doesn’t ring true either – I didn’t really buy the star crossed lovers thing at all and I hope that book 2 really focuses on developing their relationship with one another.
The one character that was delved into perfectly was that of New York city. The rich detail and descriptions throughout the different periods traveled to in the 20th century is worth the read alone. I never had any interest in traveling to New York but after reading this story I caught the travel bug!
Overall this book was thoroughly enjoyable and I expect the series to improve as Monir gains further writing experience. If you’re looking for a fun, fast read I would pick it up! (less)
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing."
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."
Wow, what a commanding start to a novel. That opening sentence hooked me in, it set the bar high and boy does Laini Taylor deliver! Daughter of Smoke and Bone tears down the common formula for paranormal romance and sets a new standard. Based in Prague you meet Karou the azure haired girl an aloof art student by day and mysterious errand girl for the chimaera named Brimstone by night. While she is human, Karou was raised by Brimstone and some of his colleagues in his workshop hidden “elsewhere” accessible only through portals disguised as doorways. Brimstone tells her nothing, everything is a secret and Karou is raised a lonely girl who feels separate from humanity and with no clue as to how she ended up under Brimstone’s care. All this changes when by complete chance she encounters Akiva on one of her mysterious errands and her world starts to come apart.
The world building in this book is phenomenal. I’ve never been to Prague but I desperately want to go after reading countless descriptions of city scenery this being one such example:
"The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Motzart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet."
Along with the beautiful descriptions of Earth, Taylor introduces Eretz a world filled with Angels and Demons and torn viciously apart by war. You can visualise this alien land so well through the story and even though the book is laden with descriptions and explanations it at no point takes away from character development.
I loved the character of Karou. She was smart, clever, witty with just a hint of sorrow. You got a real sense of her inner strength even though she is fairly reserved – definitely not a flashy heroine! I was a bit worried by Akiva initally - I thought he was going to be a little too heartless and cold to me. There is nothing I like less than a girl who fawns herself over a complete asshole. Thankfully he wasn’t like this at all and as the story progresses you really appreciate how he is actually flexible and willing to grow.
The relationship that develops between Akiva and Karou could have so easily crossed the line into creepy and unrealistic but instead its authentic and innocent. You find yourself wanting it to work out for them against all the odds. Taylor shifts this story between both their perspectives and it really helps strengthen the realism in their growing love for one another. It’s hard to go into their relationship without giving too much of the story away but you do believe that these two are destined to be together and to do great things for the fate of 2 races and 2 worlds.
I also loved the fact that there is no clear cut good and evil in this book and that war isn’t anything to be glamorized instead its something that literally consumes both sides and everyone loses out:
"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?
While this sounds like a standard Young Adult romance it truly isn’t. The story changes about half way through when Karou learns the answers to just a few of Brimstone’s secrets and it almost feels like you are reading a different novel. This is not a story of happily ever afters even if it started with a fairytale beginning. This is a story that sends you on a whirlwind of all sorts of emotions, from grief, love, shock, betrayal and tragedy. It leaves you out of breath at the end and in complete awe. I was unable to contemplate starting another book for a good week, it took me that long to digest it.
I find myself recommending this book to everyone I know. While the story resolves itself and leaves the reader feeling complete, the ending is still a cliffhanger and I can’t wait for 2nd novel – Days of Blood and Starlight to be released in late 2012. I read this book in January 2012 and I won’t be surprised if in December this year I still list this as one of the best books I read in 2012. This book deserved its 5/5 stars and then some.(less)
“In the end you can’t always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let it go.”
Before I start on Crossed, a little bit of background on my thoughts on Matched, the first book in this trilogy. I read a lot of mixed reviews for Matched, and things that other reviewers disliked about it were things that I actually relished and enjoyed about the story. Condie’s writing of this dystopian world is slow paced and has a mysterious undercurrent of wrongness about the society that just builds your anticipation as to how its all going to play out. I also quite liked Cassia and could understand her reasons and motivations through the storyline overall I thought it was a very solid book and was really interested to see what happened in the sequel.
Crossed starts out in a very different place. Ky has been sent to the outer provinces and Cassia is determined to find him. I was really looking forward to their journey to one another yet the way they were brought together was just unrealistic and implausible to say the least. Cassia manages to by complete fluke hop on an airship that magically takes her to the area that Ky was sent to. And then manages to escape without any planning or difficulties even though Ky only just managed to himself and no one has survived previously??? I just couldn’t buy it.
The book is written from both Ky and Cassia’s perspective as they journey to find one another, which sounds romantic and like it would build your anticipation. Unfortunately I found it jarring and really felt that it took from the overall story instead of adding to it. Amongst the unrealistic plot is a lot of poetry and prose which I thought was quite heavy handed and instead of me feeling the love between these two, I just got irritated by it and found myself skimming over those parts. Seriously I know teenagers have a lot of angst but considering both Cassia and Ky are written as quite intelligent individuals man do they have real emo tendencies!
There are also a couple of new characters introduced into the story who journey with Ky and Cassia respectively and I’m not really sure what their purpose was other to ensure that neither of them when journeying in the middle of the desert alone. Indie in particular had a lot of promise and I’m hoping that she is explored a bit further in the final novel.
Where the first book gave you good insight into the society, Crossed delves more into those opposing the society including the Resistance which is what Cassia and Indie want to join. Finding out about the resistance and the farmers plus some of the back story into the society was what I enjoyed most about this story and I’m very interested to find out how they all play together in the final installment of the trilogy – Reached.
Overall I found this an incredibly dissapointing sequel and while I will read the series to conclusion, my expectations aren’t particularly high.(less)
“Who am I?” My first spoken words. “No one,” she said. “Nosoul.”
In a world of 1 million souls that have been reincarnated countless times over the span of 5000 years, on one fateful night the temple flashed dark during the birth of a baby girl. Instead of a normal reincarnation, no one they know is living in this baby girl’s body. She is a new soul, or as some believe a person with no soul. The person who was meant to be reincarnated is gone for good.
This is the premise for Jodi Meadows debut novel Incarnate and I admit I was really intrigued. I wasn’t sure if this book was going to take a very spiritual journey into life and death and the very essence of a soul, but I had high expectations that I was going on a thought provoking journey. I was very disappointed.
Incarnate is a well written story but to be frank it is a very run of the mill Young Adult paranormal romance that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The story starts out strong, leaving you sympathising with Ana who has been downtrodden her entire life by her mother who whisked her away at birth to the isolated countryside. You first meet Ana as she leaves home for the first time ready to find out why she is so different. On this journey she meets Sam who rescues her from a Slyph, the first of a number of mythological baddies that crop up in this world, and with his gentleness and music he helps thaw out a lifetime of neglect and abuse.
The story starts to go downhill by the time they reach Heart, the beautiful utopian city that the million souls live in. First there is a pretty thin storyline insisting that the 2 of them live together without allowing them to actually “be” together. Then there is this rather vague religion that is complete with a sinister temple and a mysterious godlike being, Janan who reincarnates them all. Multiple events crop up to further the plot and each time it happens Ana seems to connect the dots just a little too easily or makes some pretty large decisions with little to no evidence. I get that she is smart but I almost feel like parts of the stories are rushed and don’t ring true just because it has to happen in order for the larger story to play out.
The romance between Sam and Ana is really the main event in this book and it is a sweet romance. Its my belief that this book is really just setting the scene in the romance department and book 2 is going to revolve around how much these 2 souls are meant to be together not just in this life but in all reincarnations. The scene in the library looking through all of Sam’s past reincarnations and the Masquerade ball explaining the soul dedication make that all pretty plain to me.
Both characters had some fairly questionable personality flaws if you look at them individually. I liked the character of Sam to begin with but he really fell apart somewhere around the middle of the book. He became an absolute wuss and I just couldn’t really see why, in fact I wanted to slap him and tell him to man up for goodness sake. I in no way expect all male leads to be alpha males, but surely someone who has lived for 5000 years has some inner fortitude in the face of an emergency? I also don’t really believe that anyone who has faced the emotional and physical abuse that Ana did over 18 years could over the course of 2-3 months become such a strong resourceful person. The author did such a good job in the beginning with Ana’s emotional state yet it seemed to just magically go away after 3 weeks with Sam, yeah I don’t think so.
After a great well paced beginning and a slow stagnant middle the last part of the book is insanely fast. The amount that happens in the last few chapters left me having to reread sections to make sure I really understood everything that was happening. In saying that though, the story wrapped up nicely leaving the reader with just enough tantalizing new information and questions for the sequel.
Overall I think it’s filled with great writing and an enjoyable love story, but it all played out a little bit too safe. I was left with the feeling that if the author had been willing to delve more into some of the deeper questions and mysteries that the premise allowed this could have been something truly amazing.
“There was no telling if I’d be reborn when I died, but the waltz began and ended with my four notes. He’d built the music around things that reminded him of me. And now this name. My name.”
"In approved places, every story serves a purpose. But forbidden books are so much more. Some of them are webs; you can feel your way along their threads, but just barely, into strange and dark corners. Some of them are balloons bobbing up through the sky: totally self-contained, and unreachable, but beautiful to watch.
And some of them- the best ones- are doors." What a wonderful follow up novel to Lauren Oliver’s dystopian, Delirium. Where many sequels flounder or just fall flat, Pandemonium delivers and grows on its predecessor. The novel is split into alternating chapters of “then” and “now”. The “then” chapters complete the tale of what happens to Lena after Delirium finishes and she is fighting to escape and survive in the Wilds without Alex. The “now” chapters show Lena back in society as a Resistance agent.
Delirium left you on such a cliffhanger, I needed to know what happened next. Oliver managed to deliver a sequel where she strung you out the entire book before giving that information. Normally this is something that would have left me twitchy and irritated, however the book is just that good I never once felt exasperated at all. What you get is a book that isn’t shy of being harsh and painful. It makes you think twice about about how we behave as individuals and shows the strength and resiliance of humanity regardless of what is thrown at them. Where Delirium explores Lena’s growth and love, Pandemonium is about the darker emotions like hate and revenge all of which are still considered part of “the” disease, amor deliria nervosa.
"If he were less well trained, and less careful, he would say hate. But he can’t say it; it is too close to passion, and passion is too close to love, and love is amor deliria nervosa, the deadliest of all deadly things: It is the reason for the games of pretend, for the secret selves, for the spasms in the throat."
There were many scenes in this novel that deeply impacted me, often by what Oliver leaves unsaid, once scene in particular with Raven, Blue and Lena left me in tears it was so harsh and beautiful. The writing is just superb, I can’t fault it. Where Crossed so desperately tries to be poetic, deep and meaningful and falls short at the mark, Pandemonium delivers in spades. The story and writing is fluid, soulful you really empathise with the characters and can feel the hopelessness and uphill battle of trying to change their society.
Lena really grows in this novel, she states that the old Lena is dead and in some ways this definitely feels true. The new Lena is much tougher after surviving the wilds and joining the resistance. She at times seems numb and dead due to the shock of losing Alex and her entire way of life. There are a few new secondary characters introduced who are well done and really enhance Lena’s journey through the Wilds and I can’t not mention Julian, her new love interest. I wanted to dislike him, I really did but I just couldn’t. Julian, like Lena is all about discovery, growth and acceptance that they are different to the rest of their society. He is sweet, he is genuine and I really felt for him and could see the love blossoming between them even if Lena resisted and battled it.
I can’t sing this series enough praises. If you haven’t read Delirium yet, please go pick it up and get as hooked on it as I am. Pandemonium is a wonderful sequel and I am on tenterhooks just waiting to see how everything comes together in the final book!(less)
"After years of pretending at emotions, he'd grown to appreciate their mystery, their chaos and randomness. Sometimes they were predictable, one-dimensional, almost stupid - other times they were so confounding, complex, and exquisite that he was convinced humans really were as special as they thought themselves to be."
The White Oak is a dark and interesting tale that takes well known greek myths mixes it with Alice in Wonderland and produces an inventive and unique fantasy that is guaranteed to hook in the reader. The story starts off fast and without any build up you are taken straight into a climactic scene of Cora being buried in a sinkhole desperate and frantic before arriving in Asphodel (also known as purgatory) alive and disoriented. The novel then takes on you Cora's journey as she tries to escape the underworld with her life intact as no one knows what would happen to her soul if she really died while already in the land of the dead.
This is an action packed book and reminded me a little bit of early 90s adventure games (think Kings Quest). Each chapter introduces you to a new problem or adventure so to speak which keeps the plot moving at a good rate and also helps you visualise what the character of Cora is going through.
The biggest weakness with this novel is that there didn't seem to be enough time to really build and explore the characters. There is a tiny amount of backstory of Cora & Lucas's abusive father and mother who dissappeared, but considering what a traumatic childhood they had, both of them seemed incredibly well adjusted and I never once actually felt real empathy or sadness for what they had experienced in life. Cora was so bland for a main character, nothing seemed to really phase her and I just found her plain boring if slightly weird considering she sews seeds into dresses for no apparent reason.
The secondary characters were much more interesting and I really hope in the future novels we get to find out more about them. Minotaur as a computer program, how novel and fascinating! I love how he would change personas depending on the situation. Sybil was also very interesting and I loved the concept of everyone having their own book of life that all made up the entire story of the world - past, present and future. I'm also interested to find out more about the hatred between Minos and Sybil and how this is going to play into the over arching story.
The finale takes place in a courtroom discussing the possibility of Cora's execution (Alice in Wonderland anyone?) and then just as things start to get interesting the book ends. This is a pet hate of mine - regardless of whether a book is part of a series or a stand alone there needs to be some resolution to the story. Ending it the same way you would end a chapter is just completely exasperating!
Even though the book had its faults I still enjoyed the adventure and would pick up the sequel. Just don't go into this novel expecting anything profound, it really is more suited as a fun summer read albeit a dark one!
Thank you Netgalley and Story Machine Studio for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The White Oak is being released today, the 9th April 2012.(less)
"Our purpose on this earth is not one single event, an accomplishment we can check off a list. There is no test. No passing or failing. There's only us, each moment shaping who we are, into what we will become."
Sigh, what a beautiful novel. Hallowed is the 2nd installment of the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand and follows Clara, a part angel on her journey to fulfill her purpose on earth. This isn't a fast paced book, but the lack of intrigue and action is greatly made up by its solid characters and strong, well constructed relationships.
This book continues where Unearthly left off with Clara purposefully choosing to fail her purpose by choosing to save Tucker and now working out how to deal with Christian and the fact that he is also an angel blood. While dealing with that she also has her new relationship with Tucker and a majorly pissed off Black Wing who could return at anytime. The love triangle between Christian, Clara and Tucker is a very central part to this book but the triangle is done well - you can really understand and empathise with the wavering feelings Clara has throughout the book.
When I finished Unearthly I thought Tucker and Clara were absolutely perfect together, if you had told me that Christian was in anyway a contender I would have flat out laughed. Here I am now seriously wanting her to somehow magically get to have both guys because Christian didn't just grow on me in this book I totally love him - he is so perfect in such a completely different way to Tucker. I have no idea how this triangle is going to pan out but I think I'm going to be sad one way or another!
Aside from show casing a strong love triangle, Hand also delves deep into the mother, daughter relationship and I'm not sure whether its because I quite recently lost my own mother, but I found this relationship beautifully depicted. I found out when reading the acknowledgments that Hand was pregnant with her baby daughter while writing this novel and I think all those pregancy hormones definitely kicked in and helped her deliver a wonderful, emotionally driven story. I sincerely hope she has as strong a relationship with her daughter as Clara and her mother have in this book - I loved reading every minute of it even though it was so incredibly sad.
This is not an easy book to read at times, infact the depth of emotion and sadness that I felt in parts made this in some ways a hard read even though I rated it so highly. I wouldn't reccomend this to someone who is after something fun filled, this book definitely requires tissues though please don't let it deter you from an phenomenal series!(less)
"You couldn't hide from bad things and pretend they didn't exist–that left you with a dream world, and dream worlds eventually crumbled. You had to face the truth. And then decide what you wanted."
I've always loved fairytales. I remember in high school reading Beauty by Sheri S Tepper and absolutely loving the way it mixed traditional fairytales with a good dose of science fiction. As soon as I read the premise for Kill Me Softly I knew I had to get my hands on it and see if it could live up to my expectations and be the young adult version of its adult sibling. The story centres around Mirabelle a 15 year old orphan who has lived her entire life with 2 very loving but strict godparents. Shortly before her 16th birthday Mirabelle decides to defy their number 1 rule and return to the place of her birth to search for her parents graves in order to get some closure.
The town of Beau Rivage where Mira was born is not your ordinary town. This is a town that blends modern day diners and casinos with fairytale mansions and fates. Being born in Beau Rivage means you could end up being the handsome prince destined to rescue your very own princess, or you could end up cursed and a villain, perhaps abuse your beautiful stepsister, or eat a young girls grandmother. Happily ever afters in this town normally come at a price and Mira soon discovers that fate pulled her home for a reason just in time for her 16th birthday, an auspicious and often scary time for the teens of Beau Rivage.
While this book had some flaws overall I really enjoyed reading it. It's a fun read and you can't help but try and guess which character comes our of which fairytale. I really enjoyed that these weren't the disney versions of fairytales and insted err towards the Brothers Grimm versions being fairly morbid and nearly always gruesome. Happily ever after also has some fairly strange outcomes, like the prince who found his snow white princess yet upon waking her was no longer felt the attraction because she was too chirpy and bright. Being so in love with the handsome prince who rescued her, this version of snow white instead chose to drug herself so she walks through life in a almost catatonic state just so they can stay together.
The character of Mira was probably one of the weaker parts of this story, yes she's 15 so I understand that some level of self absorption is to be expected but seriously this girl could be downright dumb. She ignores all advice given to her for the most frivilous of reasons and does stupid things anyway. I found her whole infatuation with Felix completely unnatural and unrealistic. Yes I understand he is meant to draw and attract girls to him, but Blue has the same curse and she wasn't the least bit tempted by him. She also spent the middle of this novel being a world class bitch to people who had been nothing but nice to her as far as I could see. She didn't really do anything redeemable until the end of the novel and I still had a few issues with that, overall I just didn't connect with her and at times simply wanted to slap silly.
The love triangle, or is it a love square, was quite pitiful. I understand that it needed to be there to further the plot but considering she was deeply in love with Felix she seemed to forget about him a lot and would just turn up in the early hours of the morning ready to crash and only at that point remember to spend time with him. Blue who she apparently "hates" however she spends her entire days with and her relationship with Freddie is pretty awkward, I would have loved to have seen that fleshed out a bit more.
Now that I got those issues off my chest I can move on to what worked. The secondary characters were wonderful - I loved their little group, Rafe and his bad attitude, Viv and her complicated and creepy relationship with Henley, Layla and her gambling addict of a father I really could go on. Even though they didn't get much of a look in I was greatly entertained by the Knight brothers - Wills and Caspian provided such good comic relief. The scene where they go with Caspian to the beach so he can attempt to drown himself to find his mermaid was fantastic and hearing Wills talk about his hopes that his Cinderella can at least read and write gave me a giggle.
All the different storyline threads come together brilliantly and I couldn't put the book down I was dying to find out how it all ended. I can't say too much about the finale without spoiling it but I will be interested to see if this does stay a stand alone novel or if a sequel does eventuate. While Mirabelle's story wraps up fairly well, there were so many other entertaining characters that a spin off story centering around a different fairytale could easily work.
Overall I found this book very satisfying and think anyone with a penchant for fairytales would enjoy this. I can't wait for Channel 7 Australia to start airing Once Upon A Time now!
Thank you Netgalley and Edgemont USA for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Kill Me Softly is being released on the 10th April 2012.(less)
While I’m not the biggest fan of the vampire genre I was intrigued by the premise of The Immortal Rules. Vampires, Zombies all bundled in with a dystopian setting was enough to pique my interest and I’m so glad I read it – Julie Kagawa it turns out is a fantastic writer! Set approximately 60 years into the future, civilisation has collapsed, rabids (aka zombies) roam freely infecting and killing people while vampires now run the worlds cities taking blood donations from the city’s human dwellers in exchange for food and protection. In one of these vampire cities you meet Allison a human who detests vampires with a passion and would prefer to live near starvation, scavenging and stealing to survive rather then become a vampire “pet” or donate her blood. Through misfortune Allison ends up attacked and near death when offered a choice: die, become what she hates, a vampire.
What I love about this book is that you follow Allison on parallel journeys. The book is very much a traditional physical journey where she leaves the city she grows up in and meets up with human travellers who are looking for a fabled human city called Eden. Along with this physical journey the reader is also taken on an incredibly difficult emotional journey where Allison has to make some difficult choices and question the very essence of her beliefs. I love books that make you think, books with substance that really makes you ponder the characters handling of specific situations and this novel keeps you on the edge of your seat really blurring the line between good and evil.
The future Kagawa paints is bleak and incredibly well thought out. The first quarter of this novel sets the reader up with a solid understanding of how the world is now run; a group of vampire cities with human subjugates and rabids roaming free turning anyone in the wild into rabid fodder. You get a good insight into vampire politics, and while this isn’t particularly important for this novel I imagine this foundation will serve its purpose in future Blood of Eden books. Along with an understanding of the vampire cities you also get to spend time in “the wild”, life outside the city in a world fraught with danger and infectious creatures. Overall the world building is complex and vivid, it really enriches the readers experience as you follow Allison’s path.
The characters and their development also get a big tick from me. Allison is kick ass which isn’t too surprising considering the life she grew up with, survival of the fittest definitely rules the fringe of New Covington. She’s shows a lot of inner strength when faced with moral dilemmas and handles them incredibly well but not without subtlety showing you how much inner turmoil some of her choices has given her. Even though she is a monster you just can’t help rooting for her and her own moral code speaks for itself – vampire or not this girl has heart.
The romance between Zeke and Allison is built up at a steady pace and you really connect with them. There is no love at first sight rubbish in this book, instead it’s gradually built upon and by the time obstacles come between them you really want it to work out because the love seems so authentic and deserved. Zeke is a lovely character and a breath of fresh air from all the alpha male types that plague young adult novels. While I’m sure he won’t do it for everyone, his confidence and ability to trust and help everyone he meets in such a harsh environment just makes me want to give him a great big cuddle!
The end of the novel is fantastic and the entire story is wrapped up neatly leaving just enough openings to make the reader desperate to get their hands on the sequel. Overall this book really reminded me a lot of The Study series by Maria V Snyder. While it’s classified as Young Adult it in many ways seemed more like an adult novel and I think for this reason it will be a hit with both the YA and Sci-Fi/Fantasy crowd. If you swore never to pick up a vampire book again, this book is worth breaking that promise over. One of the best Young Adult books I’ve read for awhile and I think it’s worth being added to anyone’s to-read list!
Thank you Netgalley and HarlequinTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Immortal Rules is being released on the 24th April 2012.(less)
"I don’t want romance and stolen kisses and sweetness and hand holding. I want something so big it’s like two planets colliding, with an aftershock that I feel for the rest of my life."
Where to start with this book. This is not a run of the mill Young Adult novel and this is definitely not a stock standard paranormal. What this novel is, is hard to put down, it was eerie and suspenseful and showed the world from a completely different perspective.
The story centres around Abbie a lonely 17 year old who looks at everything from an artists view. She is romantically obsessed with he step cousin Kane who lives in the downstairs part of their house and until recently barely noticed her existence. When Kane arrives back from a surfing trip Abbie notices that while everything appears normal on the surface with Kane, something is just not right - there are shadows, there is blurred perceptions and a menancing feeling that just doesn't seem to go away.
I was worried going into this novel that this book would be wrought with Australian slang and cliches and was so relieved to instead discover a beachside town that could have been almost anywhere. While there was some references to Australian surf culture it in no way deterred from the story but instead enriched it showing a side to Australian life. I loved how connected this book was to the ocean and infact all the locations were well written and so very sensory I could almost feel I was there too.
Abbie was a fascinating character and her journey of self discovery was absolutely riveting. I loved the self portraits she took throughout the novel giving you clear glimpses of her personal growth and feelings it was such a different way of communicating with readers and I loved the impact it gave to the story. The back story of Abbie's family history was subtletly woven into the main storyline really letting you empathise for this young woman who just seemed so very isolated from the get go.
The horror element to the book was incredibly exciting and I spent 3/4 of the novel wondering if it was actually happening or if it was all in Abbie's head - all those internal musings and hints of otherworldliness just left you never really sure. The conversations Abbie has with her babysitting charge Joey and her imaginary friend Pinty were deliciously creepy and I'm still concerned for that poor 3 year old and what is clearly haunting her! Eagar also doesn't shy away from some truly violent horror scenes towards the end, I'm still reeling and horrified about the poor dog. I won't say more for fear of spoilers but I will say animal lovers beware some things in this novel are definitely what I would label as disturbing.
This novel definitely surprised me I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and I can't wait to pick up Kirsty Eagar's other novels now.
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Night Beach is released today, the 26th April 2012.(less)
"And I'm falling in love with you," he whispers. "But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me."
The premise of this book really drew me in. It sounded like Moulin Rouge mixed into a scary dystopian world complete with a couple of sexy romantic interests - who couldn't be intrigued by that? After I first picked up this book I simply devoured it, it was so good if a little different to my original expectations. The story is based on an Edgar Allan Poe classic by the same title and while I haven't read it to see how it lives up to the original, the story definitely has a very dark gothic vibe which rings true of what Poe I have read. Araby, the central character of this novel starts of numb and disconnect buried in guilt and grief and this story really is about her discovering herself and opening her eyes to what is really happening in the world around her.
The world itself is both gorgeous and terrifying. You have the beautiful masks, aristocratic ladies with carriages and luxury apartment towers on one hand. You also have the corpses on the street, corpse collector’s, scary bats and crocodiles plus the plague infected on the other. Mixing these together is captivating and gives you a completely encompassing city background. There is an undercurrent of fear throughout the entire book - fear of disease, angry mobs, rebels, the evil prince it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor in this world, there is little happiness to hold onto for anyone.
Araby is a wonderful main character. She experienced so much in her past and this is conveyed really well throughout the novel so you connect and empathise with her as the story progresses. She starts off so numb and dead inside, choosing to forget the horrors in the world with sleeping potions, illicit drugs and roaming the debauchery club even though she doesn't actually partake in any real debauchery! Upon the disappearance of her best friend she meets the first of her 2 love interests, Will who works at the club and is just a downright lovely guy. She discovers Will is the sole provider of his 2 young siblings and will do absolutely anything to keep them safe.
Her other love interest Elliot is a very interesting character and you aren't ever 100% sure if he really is a nice guy or if he is going to turn out to be a bad egg after all. It turns out both of these guys do some shitty things and are deeply flawed yet the writing and character development is so well done that you really understand their actions and can't stop rooting for them anyway. Often in YA love triangles its really obvious which guy the girl is going to choose right from the get go but in this book your left with things not being clear cut. You simply don't really know by the end if Araby would choose Will or if she would choose Elliot. Perhaps she'll choose neither, I'm just not sure.
Araby's family is also quite important to the story. What's on the surface seems quite simple however through the story you are given titbits of information that when you piece things all together you can see that this family has gone through a lot of tragedy and there is actually a lot of love there even if it is covered by loss and grief of Araby's twin brother.
While this book is slow paced and there is a lot of subtext, you never feel bored while reading it. The book is wrapped up nicely though there are so many reveals and shocks towards the end that I simply can't wait to read the sequel which must be ages away argh! I can imagine that some people would not enjoy this, those that like a lot of speed and action would probably not like mulling over minute details and information that is interwoven into the story to provide the rich experience that is Masque of the Red Death. But if you’re looking for a story that really makes you think and one that doesn't shy away from death and betrayal I strongly recommend picking up this story ASAP!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Masque of the Red Death was just recently released on the 24th April 2012 so go pick up a copy today!(less)
"I remember the Hunt from ten years ago. How for months afterward I didn’t dare fall asleep because of the nightmares that would invade my mind: hideous images of an imagines Hunt, wet and violent and full of blood. Horrific cries of fear and panic, the sound of flesh ripped and bones crushed puncturing the night stillness."
This book is a reversal of sorts on the standard vampire style novel. In Fukuda’s world the vampires are actually classified as normal people and the humans (hepers they are called in this book) are in hiding and virtually extinct. I was expecting a dark and thrilling story from the synopsis and I was sadly very underwhelmed, instead I got a fairly shallow and frankly weird story that seems more suited to 10 year old boys or I guess someone who doesn’t mind a bit of toilet humor.
Gene is a heper who has managed to blend in with the vampires his entire life by following a stringent set of rules his father drummed into him from birth. He does this by flying under the radar and being a loner though through the narration it’s clear he is meant to be incredibly smart and athletic. His ability to stay aloof all goes ary when he is randomly picked via a lottery to participate in the Heper Hunt an event that happens only once a decade. Along with his fellow school student, the “hot girl” Ashley June, they are taken to the Heper Institute for a week of training before the hunt begins.
Probably the biggest problem I had with the story was that the whole vampire culture was incredibly weird and icky. Now I don’t need my vampires to sparkle but the tourretes like head and neck jerking, the wrist scratching and the drooling just did not do it for me! The spin the bottle memory Gene has where he gets it on with Ashley June was completely nauseating and I just wish the author had left it out because I seriously don’t even understand how these creatures procreate if armpit (or was it elbow?) pumping is part of their foreplay. The world building also had some flaws, I couldn’t understand why hepers would try to blend in at all considering they had the daylight hours free to do as they pleased – why not simply hole up at night time, that would surely be safer? Also as there is definitely more hepers than Gene passing how on earth did they not spot one another during the day – the water supply and fruit trees nearby surely would be hot spots for fellow hepers to congregate?
World issues aside I just wasn’t a big fan of Gene, for someone who considers himself so smart he has to be careful at school not to get everything right all the time, he did some pretty dumb things. He knew from day 1 at the Heper Institute that the dome housing the captive hepers went down during daylight yet he didn’t cotton on until day 3 or 4 to go and talk to them, drink some water and “hide his odour” by taking a dip in their pond. Seriously if you are dying of thirst which you would quite literally be after 3 days surely a great big pool of water near your sleeping accommodation would drive you crazy. Aside from Gene you don’t really get much of an insight into any of the other characters in the novel. You are briefly introduced to the other hunters and the hepers being held captive but you aren’t really given enough quality time with any of them to form anything other than the most generic of connections. You see a bit of Ashley June through the dialogue her and Gene share but to be honest she does some pretty stupid things too so its hard to relate to either of them.
The actual idea of the hunt was quite interesting and the story really picked up pace towards the end of this book, and I started to enjoy myself. Unfortunately like so many YA books these days it just ends abruptly without any real conclusion. This is a pet peeve of mine, when I went through high school if I handed in a creative writing project that ended the way some of these books do I would probably fail for not completing the story. Using the “there is a sequel coming” excuse just doesn’t cut it for me I’m sorry give your readers some type of conclusion please!
I had really high hopes for this book but was not interested enough to consider reading the sequel when it’s released. Perhaps this book would go down well with middle grade boys? I’m not sure but I can safely say I didn’t love it in my 30s and I would have been highly grossed out by it in my teens so not thinking this one is for the female market!
Thank you Netgalley and St.Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Hunt is released on 8th May 2012.(less)
I wasn’t expecting much from this book other than a gorgeous cover after all the argy bargy and drama between book bloggers, the author and the publicist. I decided to give it a go anyway and to be honest I’m really glad I did! While this isn’t the most deep and meaninful book it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly in the same guilty fashion that I enjoy eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. You know your not really meant to be liking it but you can’t help but secretly love every moment of it!
Set in Illea which replaced the USA after a large and brutal war in the not too distant future, this book is about a 16 year old girl called America. America is selected as one of 35 girls to compete for the love and marriage of Illea’s crown prince in a large marketing reality tv type affair to give the people of Illea some live entertainment and distraction not unlike the ancient Romans did with the Colleseum. While most girls are honoured to be selected from their region to compete, America isn’t. America is already in love with a boy called Aspen and is not remotely interested in marrying the prince however accepts her selection because her family needs the financial aid and publicity it affords them.
While this is a Dystopian it’s the lightest one I’ve read yet and I hope that the sequel gives a bit more background information into this world. You are introduced in this novel to the caste system of Illea – the royal family being of Caste 1 and lowly servants being caste 6. America is a singer and is of Caste 5 still considered incredibly low on the totem pole and her family while gifted in the arts find it very hard to make ends meet between work. There is also information woven into the story as to how Illea is formed after effectively World War 3, however not much information is given about the rebels that pop up throughout the story – I’m assuming to keep everything dangerous and mysterious.
America is not a particularly easy character to like. She is pretty self centred and to be frank if I had been the prince I would have gotten rid of her at the very beginning - she is really quite mean to him and he just takes beating after beating by her. The prince is pretty wishy washy and really needs a bit more of a backbone. There were some glimmers of true leadership from him throughout the book and I sincerely hope we see more in the sequel otherwise this guy is going to end up being the most whipped King you could come across! The whole interaction between the different ladies competing was actually really well done even though there is the cliche mean girl who is kept in though absolutely no one likes her except apparently the prince. It really reminds me a bit of Gossip Girl meets The Bachelor and it doesn’t surprise me that this book has been picked up for a TV series.
Overall while the writing was a bit clunky at times and the main character was a bitch, this book was still pretty addictive and I enjoyed reading it immensely. If your looking for a light hearted read between episodes of Gossip Girl or Revenge I think this book would be for you!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Selection was released on 24th April 2012 so check out the links below to purchase it now!(less)
Kyle took a deep breath, like he had picked up on the question I hadn't asked. That was one of the differences between him and Jason: Kyle always gave just as much weight and consideration to the things I didn't say as to the things I did.
When I first saw Hemlock on the list of 2012 Debut Authors I instantly fell in love with the cover. I then saw it was about werewolves and hesitated as this isn’t really a topic that greatly interests me. The cover love won out and I selected it as one of the 12 debut author novels I would read for the 2012 challenge, and how glad am I!
Set in the small town of Hemlock just 5 months after the death of her best friend, Mackenzie is still grieving and feeling haunted by Amy’s vicious death by a white werewolf. When the Trackers – an extreme anti werewolf task force come to town by police invitation Mac soon gets caught up in a web of intimidation, lies and politics. Between working out who Amy’s killer is, trying to keep Amy’s boyfriend and her friend Jason from self destruction and struggling with her feelings for Kyle her best friend, this book is jam packed with action, suspense and relationships.
This was a wonderful mystery/thriller that had a dose of paranormal mixed in to create a fantastic book concoction! The whole premise that the government had to admit that werewolves existed as the spread of LS (Lupine Syndrome) was just too much to keep under wraps, and the idea that anyone infected is sent away to special camps felt realistic and I wanted to find out more. Add in the Trackers a group of fanatical werewolf haters who are well known to go outside the boundaries of the law to destroy those hiding their infection and you have a world fraught with change and fear. The town of Hemlock gave the appearance of a small sleepy American town which was given the spotlight after a rash of werewolf attacks, the last of which happened to Amy, Mackenzie’s best friend.
I really loved the main character Mackenzie. She had so much heart, even after having such a rough start in life. You find out that Mackenzie has witnessed and experienced some pretty gruesome things in her past, especially relating to the Trackers and I love that this book doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of things. She has a great sense of loyalty to her friends and to Tess her guardian which is displayed through virtually all her actions within this book.
I really enjoyed the love triangle in this novel. Both the boys sound a bit boring at first glance – Jason, the bad boy and Kyle the perfect best friend. When you get below the surface both of them are wonderfully crafted, flawed but beautiful individuals. I especially loved the character of Jason, he’s so clearly messed up and just needs someone to help him make it all better. I love how he grows and develops through the story and the inner strength he shows towards the end when all his beliefs are turned upside down.
The actual plot in this story is also fantastic and I could barely put this book down I was really keen to find out what would happen next. I did have a pretty good idea where things would eventuate by about two thirds through but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the underground werewolf community in the sequel. I strongly urge you to consider picking this book up if you like a good paranormal mystery!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Hemlock is released today the 8th May 2012.(less)
I signed up for the book tour shortly after reading the phenomenal Young Adult novel, Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar which had a similar premise and I was really in the mood for supernatural thrillers. After getting the excerpt and tour information I started to worry, how on earth was I going to be able to give this book a chance without continually comparing the 2? Thankfully it became pretty clear within a couple of chapters that while the 2 sounded alike, where one was full of symbolism and quite disturbing, Firefly Beach on the otherhand was more lighthearted and fun not really alike at all.
Firefly beach is about the emotional journey Beth LaMonte, our heroine takes after going through personal loss and a relationship breakdown. Determined to rediscover herself and start living life again, she moves to a small coastal community to fulfill her youthful dream of becoming an artist and immediately on arrival is rewarded with some artistic success and inspiration. Along with her professional successes, Beth, with the help of a supernatural ball of light ie. the “firefly”, discovers a diary of a young woman who disappeared some 30 odd years ago. Caught up in the story of this young girl, she sets out to uncover what happened to her and discovers there is much more than originally meets the eye.
The first half of this book is fairly slow paced, filled with a lot of character development and introducing you to the coastal community. I found myself quite impatient at times and felt that the writing could be a little clunky – there was simply too much commentary about what Beth was doing at that particular point of time. I am a big believer that sometimes its the things that are left unsaid that makes a big impact, and hearing about her eating lunch, having a shower, making the bed whatever mundane activity it happened to be just really could have been edited out.
The character of Beth was quite frustrating to me as well. I understand that she endured quite a few emotional hardships but her reaction to things such as the firefly and some of the events that occur just didn’t sit well to me. In fact I think this poor girl could have done with some serious therapy, would have done her a world of good. She does grow throughout the novel and by the end of the book while I still couldn’t really relate to her, I did feel she was a stronger person and definitely more likeable to read about. I quite enjoyed the secondary characters of Rod and Kenny both of whom also conquer their own personal demons in the story and I really empathised with both of them. I was hoping there would be perhaps more backstory into Kenny and his relationship with his mother but can understand that it wasn’t really of value to the plot, just something that interested me.
The second half of this novel really picked up pace and from about 60% through the ebook on I found it very difficult to put down. Infact towards the end I turned to the clock and realised it was 1am, then found myself unable to sleep as I couldn’t stop thinking about some of the developments and plot twists that had come to light! Some of the plot twists relating to Katherine, the diary’s owner, I found quite heartbreaking most likely due to being a mother myself. I think also the fact that there were so many forks in Katherine’s road that if each decision had just gone a little bit differently things could have worked out so much better. I found this so sad and just wished that things could have worked out differently for her!
Overall I really did enjoy this book, and I think that anyone looking for a fast summer read with a mystery element will thoroughly enjoy this book!(less)
I was so excited to start reading Dreamless, I loved Starcrossed when I read it last year and thought it was very unique the way it revamped Helen, the Trojan Wars and the face that launched 1000 ships. Starcrossed was very much about the romance between Lucas and Helen and explaining the world that Angelini created. Dreamless is a very different book, it’s about Helen finding her inner strength and very much delving into the characters and fleshing them out to provide a much richer reading experience.
In this novel Helen is struggling with her quest to free the Scions from the Furies. Much of the book is about her journeying into the Underworld trying to work out how to find the Furies and reunite the Houses. Helen and Lucas have also discovered their relationship as cousins and this has driven a large wedge between them which is further strained by the introduction of a new character – Orion who can journey and assist Helen with her mission.
This book started out a little slowly for my tastes, I’m not sure if it was just because there was such a long time between me reading the first book and this sequel but it took me quite a while to get into things and remember what was happening. I would have appreciated a little bit more of a reintroduction to the overarching plot just to get me back into the swing of things. Once I started remembering the characters and getting involved in Helen’s quest I truly enjoyed this story it was fast, fun and action filled.
Helen was done brilliantly in this book – I had found her to be quite weak in Starcrossed and I loved the self exploration and growth that she goes through in this novel even though it nearly kills her. By the end of the book she is fast becoming the kick ass heroine that this series deserves and I can’t wait to see how she tackles the challenges set before her in book 3!
I used to hate love triangles but I have read quite a few really good ones this year that the whole love triangle thing is really doing it for me. The introduction of Orion really irritated me at first but he was such a likeable guy that I couldn’t help but really love him by the end of this book. Lucas on the other hand I wasn’t quite so impressed with. I thought his melodramatic and public break up with Helen was poorly handled and then lets be frank he stalked her invisibly throughout half the book. Not on man, not on! His handling of Orion however when they meet was very gentlemanly so he got a bit of reprieve from me there.
The plot wrap up in this novel is sensational – I wolfed the ending up in no time and am now desperate for book 3! It managed to provide some key plot resolution making you feel that you had actually finished the book but left enough shock and cliff hangers that you can’t wait to read the next installment. Very neatly handled by Angelini and a far cry better than many YA books out on the market! I think anyone who enjoys greek mythology should consider this series, it’s a very unique angle and a lot of fun.
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Dreamless was released on 29th May 2012.(less)
What can I say, I just really enjoy this series! This book is dark, the opening scene is gruesome, traumatic and there is a lot of death. This opener really sets the tone for the entire novel and things don’t really look up for the people of Mythos Academy anytime soon.
In this book Gwen is on a quest to find the Helheim Dagger and through this Gwen learns a lot about her mum and her time as Nike’s champion. I really liked the quest in this book and the pace was just beautifully done, you always felt something was happening without being bombarded with too much information. I also loved that even though it had been a while since I read book 2, the author managed to weave in enough recapped information that you never felt confused or unsure about things that had happened in the previous novels.
Gwen is a wonderful lead character though in this book I felt at times she was a little thick as the author gave some fairly obvious hints that Gwen just glossed over entirely. I found this really frustrating at times, it was pretty clear to me what was going on from fairly early in especially with who Loki’s champion was yet Gwen just didn’t seem to get the most obvious warning signs. Good thing the story was so interesting that this could be taken in stride and wasn’t too big a mark down for the overall book.
Logan is awesome as always but man can these two just hook up already and stop with all the awkward conversations and wonderings. I just can’t see enough of a reason so far in Logan’s past that he has to stay away from Gwen. The backstory with his family just doesn’t cut it in my eyes and I hope there is something else we’re yet to uncover on this. The romance in this book is on the backburner in comparison to the first two books buts thats ok as Gwen really does a lot of self exploration and growth in this novel. I think too much romance would have really deterred from the processing and internalising of her mothers memories that happens over the course of the story.
Gwen’s quest really is the central focus in this book and I really did miss the fantastic secondary characters that have cropped up. I hope we get some more air time with Daphne and Carson plus Logan’s spartan buddies in book 4 as Gwen will need her friends to take on the Reapers after this huge page turning finale. The reappearance of the Fenrir wolf was a lovely surprise and side story in this novel, I’m really glad there was more to the wolf’s story even if it was all a little bit sad!
I can’t wait until book 4 is out, this is a wonderful series if you want a good all round paranormal – there is action, romance, mythology and teenage drama, definitely great fun!(less)
I absolutely loved the first book in this series and subsequently devoured both Deception and the sequel Betrayel in a weekend. Unfortunately it was a good 12+ months until I got onto this final installment and I found it much harder to get into. I’m not to sure if it was simply because I couldn’t remember so much of what had happened at the end of book 2 or if it was just a weaker novel I’m not really sure but I did finish this book feeling a bit deflated.
Set immediately after book 2, Emma is desperate and determined to finally destory Neos and save Bennett before his addiction completely destroys both him and their relationship. In order for Emma to do this she must locate the ashes of Neos which has been hidden somewhere on the grounds of Thatcher.
This finale is quite exciting and this book is wrapped up very nicely giving the majority of the characters a nice rounded happy ever after finish. By the time this book was coming to a close I did start to really remember how awesome some other secondary characters in this book was and I’m glad that things seemed to work out in a satisfying way for them all.
Now that the entire trilogy is out I do really think they are a great read especially if you have the time to read them all one after another! This is a fast paced and fun series that I think would suit anyone who likes a good ghost story!(less)
I was really surprised to discover that Across the Universe had a sequel at first because that book was wrapped up so very well. I was really excited to read the sequel though I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as this book was going to need a completely new direction after book 1. Beth Revis did however manage to come up with a whole host of issues for Amy and Elder to deal with in this book and I loved every minute of it!
At the end of book 1 the ship Godspeed is off the calming drugs pumped into the water supply and now there is a whole lot of angry and upset people aboard the ship. With no planet in sight for what could be countless generations there is a whole host of issues to contend with including mutiny, violence and work strikes. Elder has his hands full learning how to be an effective leader and Amy is busy uncovering the truth left to her in clues by Orion.
This book is really about change and growth and showing how the characters handle these new and stressful situations. Both Amy and Elder are beautifully handled by Revis and I found this book incredibly difficult to put down. Their blossoming romance was done well also, it isn’t just smooth sailing but they both question each other at different points throughout in a incredibly believable manner.
While I had a pretty good idea how things were going to end up before I got up to the climactic ending wow I still found it an exciting read and the cliffhanger was fantastic. I truly love this series and if you like a good science fiction then you wont be dissapointed by this trilogy thus far!(less)
I originally passed over this book after reading the blurb as I believed this story to be predominantly science fiction with a large cyborg element, a topic that doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Somehow I completely missed the fact that this was a modern fairytale retelling of Cinderella much to my dismay and was very excited to see it in the library during a visit one week. Once I started this book I found it incredibly difficult to put down it was so good, this is a debut novel that should not be overlooked!
Set in New Beijing sometime in the future after World War IV, the world is terrified by a very real and terrible plague called Letumosis which is highly contagious and completely deadly. Medical technology is much more advanced and humans who once would have died in accidents can now become cyborgs and live, but as second class citizens looked down upon by society. Cinder is a young mechanic who works to fund the social lives of her stepmother and two step sisters. After one of her step sisters contracts Letmosis, her stepmother sends Cinder off to be a cyborg volunteer at the research centre trying to find a cure for this deadly plague. From here Cinder’s whole world goes into a huge spin as she discovers things about herself and her past that she would never have dreamed.
Cinder is a wonderful character, definitely much more defiant and independent then the original Cinderella and I really enjoyed her point of view and telling of this story. The entire Cinderella retelling was just wonderful, there was enough elements of the original fairytale in the book that gave it a comforting familiar touch but it still managed to be so very unique. I especially loved the twist on the dramatic ball scene with Cinder’s grand entrance and reveal to the handsome prince!
The romance between Prince Kai and Cinderella was nicely done, not too thick or unrealistic and definitely not overally dramatic which I really enjoyed. Prince Kai was just a lovely male love interest in general and I think is a wonderful ruler – a great mix of empathy and inner strength! At the end when Kai discovers Cinder’s secret it was just heart breaking and so beautifully done, I just felt so sorry for the both and wished they could have their happily ever after.
The added plot twists with the Lunar civilisation was fascinating and really sets this book apart from the average Cinderella retelling. I found the Lunar people fascinating and loved the tension and anxiousness when the Lunar Queen descends onto Earth. I can’t wait to find out more about this in the future books of the Lunar Chronicles!
This has really been one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and I am incredibly impressed considering Cinder is written by a debut author. I think that this is a story that will suit anyone – don’t let the science fiction elements put you off as this really isn’t the heart of this novel. Cinder is a mystery, science fiction, love story and paranormal all in one and boy does it really work!(less)
This book has been on my to-read list for ages. To be honest if it had been made available as a kindle book in Australia I probably would have read it eons ago but have only just gotten onto it because I spied it in the library while I was there recently. Whinging about the status of ebooks in Australia aside, I was excited to finally read this book and while it didn’t quite live up to some of the hype and expectations I had, it was still a fantastic fantasy read.
The story starts with our heroine’s arranged and political marriage to King Alejandro. At the age of 16, princess Elisa has been honored from birth to be the “bearer” for her generation. The bearer is the person who only once every 100 years is blessed with a godstone on their naming day and are destined for greatness. When you first meet Elisa, greatness seems incredibly far fetched. Instead you meet a heroine who appears to have been molly coddled her entire life and is to be blunt a selfish gluttonous princess who has never had to do anything she didn’t want to in her entire life. Life changes dramatically for Elisa after some extreme changes in circumstances and along with toughing things out for the first time in her life she discovers her purpose to help save her people from magical enemies.
I’m not sure I was really a fan of Elisa though I know many bloggers have hailed her as a likeable heroine. I found things a little too predictable with her growth. After whinging about her weight and frumpiness for the first half of the novel, she then managed to have the fortitude to tough things out in the desert without complaint and get fit and slim with what appeared to be virtually no effort on her part. I also didn’t like that she seemed to fall in love with her captor at one point and instead of feeling fear towards him upon first meeting she mooned over his eyes, this just isn’t realistic in my books! Small complaints aside, Elisa does grow dramatically throughout the course of the story and she really does step up and become a strong honourable heroine by the end of this book and I look forward to seeing how she goes in the remainder of the series.
The actual story was really fantastic, the plot moves at a fast but manageble pace and there is lots of fantastic action scenes to keep the reader intrigued the entire way through. There were some references to me that came a hairs breadth away from religion and christianity but it managed to only make me uncomfortable briefly and for the whole I could enjoy the novel irrespective of my religious beliefs. The story is wrapped up brilliantly and left just enough teasers for book 2 which I now can’t wait to get my hands on!
This is a great fantasy novel for people that just don’t have the time to read adult high fantasy due to the page count. While it isn’t the best one I’ve read recently, it still deserves a look in and I’m extra impressed considering its a debut author!(less)
This book was released shortly after I started book blogging and I seemed to see rave reviews for it everywhere. I desperately wanted to read it and while it took me nearly 3 months to get onto it, it was worth the wait - the book really does live up to the hype!
The only real negative I have for this book was that the opening couple of chapters didn't really pull me in, I found the scenes with her father and arranged marriage a little confusing and at the time I started to already file the book into the "average" category. Thankfully these are very quick and short lived chapters with the majority of the story being about Ismae's journey after she discovers her life as a daughter of death and things become very interesting very quickly.
Ismae is a wonderful character, after coming from such a rough background of fear, ridicule and physical abuse she takes to her role as an assassain or "daughter of death" quite well. The introductory segment of her life in the convent isn't long but gives you the distinct impression of a kinder time in her life that cultivates her thirst for veageance and distrust of men.
During her time at the convent you meet her 2 friends - Sybella and Annith who I'm assuming we'll see more of in the remainder of the trilogy as they are given a fair bit of air time but don't seem that important to the plot of Grave Mercy.
The real heart and soul of this novel however is the time spent on the road and in court with Duval. This is where the sheltered Ismae really begins to understand the impact of death and the complexity of guilt, innoncence, right and wrong and it really makes this a stand out piece of literature.
The political intrigue and plot twists in this book are thoroughly enjoyable and while not at the level of complexity that some high fantasy series manage to excel at, still brilliantly executed considering the book's length.
The romance between Duval and Ismae is carefully drawn out and incredibly believable in the storytelling. There is no love at first sight though chemistry is definitely sparking off the pages early on. I really enjoy books that don't hurry the romance and instead let it come to life on its own throughout the story and this book delivers exactly that.
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book and can not wait until the sequel comes out. Anyone who enjoys traditional fantasy novels but wants something a little less intense and slightly more Young Adult should give this book a go.
Grave Mercy is my new go to book now when people ask me for book recommendations!(less)
This was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oa...moreThis was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway – you could win a copy of Embrace!
"Did you ever think we would be anything other than unbelievable?"
I have had both good and bad experience with YA angel novels in the past. Firstly there is the Uneartly series by Cynthia Hand with I absolutely loved, then there are books like Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick which I would quite happily burn, and Fallen which I put down as DNF after struggling to get through the first 100 pages! I had first chosen to read Embrace at the beginning of the year when choosing books for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. Much to my surprise I discovered that Jessica Shirvington is in fact a fellow Aussie and this book has been out Down Under for quite awhile now! I was so keen to read it I broke my ebook only rule and actually purchased the physical book (sadly the ebook is NOT available in Australia along with many other wonderful YA books I’m desperate to purchase!).
Embrace is the story of Violet who has never particularly enjoyed her birthdays as her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. On her 17th birthday her mother had left her a gift including a strange letter hinting about faith and otherwordly concepts leaving her feeling quite confused. Shortly after turning 17 Violet discovers she is part angel and has to decide whether to forgo her angel heritage or “embrace” this side of her fully.
I really liked Violet as a character for the most part of this book. She starts off strong, self sufficient and completely relatable. It’s actually a nice change to have a girl who is fit and sporty as a central character for no reason other than she wants to be, I can’t really think of another main heroine who is like that. Through the book she gets quite ragey and spiteful which is out of character and at first I was puzzled by it then caught on that there were paranormal influences at work and this just worked for the story. Like any good heroine Violet isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes, learns a lot and really grows into her new world as the story progresses while still managing to stay grounded in her normal day to day life.
Like so many Young Adult books there are 2 guys and I found both of them to be completely HOT, there is the quiet, reserved “good” guy Lincoln and then the dark mysterious “bad” boy Phoenix who both get quite a bit of air time. Now I’m sure there will be quite a few Phoenix fans out there but I must be drawn to the strong silent type or something because I swear if she ends up with Phoenix at the end of this quartet I will have to smack her over the head for her stupidity! For a bit of fresh air in a YA book there is actually some sex which is so rare these days I actually reread the scene because I was like “did she just do that… like really did she?!!!” Both of the guys really are more than they seem, their characters are definitely much deeper then just good and bad and this is what really made this story a great read. I personally can’t wait to find out more about Phoenix’s backstory in the future books.
I really enjoyed the angel mythology and premise of this world as well and can’t wait to find out more, the whole “Embrace” trials to accept your Grigori powers was really interesting and I will be interested to find out even more about the myhology in the remaining books of the series. I really liked how the whole Angel and Grigori lore was new to Violet as well and the information was given out in a way that didn’t make it too overwhelming – you just went on the learning journey with her as the story progressed.
Overall I found this to be a fantastic debut novel by a great Aussie author and think anyone with an interest in Angel or paranormal stories will appreciate this story!(less)
Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover that this was originally written years ago on fictionpress and has only more recently been edited and published by a professional publishing house – it’s beautifully written and really packs a punch! This is one of those Young Adult novels that really gets it right, the world building is simply brilliant, I loved this war torn land and can’t wait to find out more about the magical elements that have been driven underground. The characters and character development is handled well and the writing is filled with witty banter. Even though the book is 400 odd pages it’s a fast read – highly entertaining.
This is the story of Celaena a teenage girl who also happens to be the most feared assassin of Ardalan. At some point prior to this book taking place, Celaena is betrayed and caught and the book starts with her imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier where prisoners are sent to work to the death. Where most prisoners die within mere months, Celaena has managed to last a year so far without breaking her spirit. Enter the handsome prince Dorian who gives Celaena a chance at freedom if she will compete as his contender to become the King’s champion against other criminals all desperate for pardons and a fabulous salary. Things start getting scary when something starts killing off competitors one by one and Celaena is determined to find out and stop whatever it is before it comes after her.
What I loved most about this story was the character of Celaena, I just found her so relatable. She was strong, intelligent and confident and not in the least bit ashamed to admit it. She was also scarred and vulnerable with a traumatic past that is continuously alluded to in the story – it just made me want to give her a great big hug. There are elements of a love triangle in this novel but it’s a weak one – romance is definitely not a major part of this story it just enhances your understanding of the characters and gives you an insight into their personalities. The crown prince Dorian is well done, given his background as a pampered ladies man he could have been so unlikeable but he is witty and the flaws just give him room for growth and he definitely grows during this novel. The other love interest is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend Chaol, who is the strong silent type. Now this is a man I think many women would get behind, behind that tough battle strong exterior is a vulnerable man just waiting for the right woman to love him and make things all better. I will be very surprised if this isn’t who Celaena ends up with in the end though I’m sure many would disagree with me!
The world of Ardalan is beautifully depicted and I really need to go and read all the prequels that Maas released to see if you get further information into the wars and loss of the magic in the world. I’m also interested to find out more about the assassins’ guild that is mentioned numerous times when hearing about Celaena’s past.
There is simply so many hints and references given in this beautifully told story that I just can’t wait to see where things head in the future sequels. This was a wonderful fantasy story I enjoyed it immensely and Celaena is a fantastic heroine and role model for a Young Adult crowd.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK & ANZ for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Throne of Glass is released on 2nd August 2012 and I most definitely recommend you pre-ordering your copy!(less)
I’ve read a lot of Dystopians but Eden’s Root has to be one of the hardest I’ve read to date purely because of how very gritty and real this book is. Unlike many Dystopians where you get a vague idea that at some point in the past something went horribly wrong leading to a completely different way of life and governing body, in Eden’s Root you are there from the beginning experiencing with the characters in a breaking and changing world. The main character Fi by the tender age of 14 has already experienced some traumatizing life events including the death of her brother and father to cancers and also the knowledge that her mother is soon to join them. The rise of cancers is attributed to all the modifications science has done over the decades to our food sources leading to the eventual loss of all new planatation in 2033 when Fi must help her family find the Eden complex in order to survive. I have personally seen both my own mother and my father in law sucumb to cancer way before there time and this book hits frightenly close to home.
The actual world building was very well done, you really felt you were there and part of the chaos after the government involved the military and started to ration the food. The only problem I had was that the actual story was just too long and could have done with some editing, especially in the early parts with Fi’s preparation and training. This is a long book and it took me quite a while to get through the first third of the novel and I think this is one of the story’s biggest faults.
The characters are beautifully done. Fi is a great heroine even if she is only 13 at the start of the novel. While at first I found it a bit hard to believe that she was incharge of her “family” including the adults after awhile I really did accept it, at the end of the day some people really are born leaders and Fi is one of these. Now she really grows in this story partly because of her training and partly because of the changing world around her forcing her to tackle some real moral issues. While I could imagine that some people would be irritated with her thoughts and reactions to events I thought that they rang quite true because at the end of the day regardless of how the world changes having to be involved in death, rape, pillage and all those other awful chaos activities would not be easy.
Sean irritated me a little bit, he was a bit too passive agressive for my tastes but I really liked the character of Asher. Some reviews I’ve read has put both these guys in a love triangle with Fi but I never really saw any romantic connection between her and Sean. But then Asher carries a sword around and is totally awesome so perhaps I was a little judgemental :) The family itself was nicely done if a little bit too lucky when it came to adding new members that just magically had skills the group could use. I also wonder if it was realistic how well their rules and meetings would actually work in this situation – I think I would find it very hard to always take direction from a teenager personally and I’m not entirely sure if there wouldn’t be more tension in reality.
Overall even though it took me awhile to get into this story I really loved it and I think that anyone who enjoys Dystopians/Post Apocalyptic stories should add this to their to-read list – it’s a fascinating read!(less)
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your soul was torn in two, half soaring with happiness for another person, half mired in a well of self pity and pain."
I chose to read this novel back in January for the Dystopian Challenge and all I remembered upon opening the Kindle document was that it was post apocalyptic. Within a few chapters I started to get a real sense of familiarity to the story and characters and when I discovered that it was a Jane Austen retelling this made a whole lot of sense, there is a real Austen feel about this novel while still managing to spin a completely new and novel story.
The story is about 2 children – 1 rich, Elliot and 1 a slave, Kai. These two are born on the same day and form a strong friendship that overtime blossoms into love. 4 years prior to this book taking place, Kai leaves to try and make a better life for himself while Elliot stays behind, bound by duty to try to protect and look after the other people on the estate before her father’s disinterest drives it to the brink of ruin. Fast forward to today and Kai comes back, as the dashing and incredibly successful Captain Wentworth still hurt and angry about Elliot’s choice to leave him and ready to show her what a poor choice she made.
Elliot is a wonderful strong female lead, one who is self sacrificing, independant and who clearly cares deeply for others overcoming many societal predjudices. As one of the luddite nobitlity she takes her role as caretaker to the reduced (generations of people on which genetic experimentation went incredibly wrong) seriously unlike many of her society counterparts. The best part about her carefully constructed charactered is how layered she is. She chooses honor over love and underneath her tough exterior is pain, regret and a tinge of hopelessness. Mixed in with these many emotions are deep seated religious beliefs and fears about innovation, science and change making her a delightfully complex heroine.
Kai/Wentworth is a very typical Austen male love interest and while the arrogance has been toned down for a more modern audience I can still imagine many of his reactions wouldn’t sit well with teens today. His blind hatred to Elliot at the beginning of the story does seem to dissolve fairly quickly with very little reason, though many reasons why he should love Elliot are still shown to the reader. His character is given depth through the ethical dilemmas he faces while apart from Elliot with relation to science and innovation. The decisions and rational behind his choices definitely round him out making him more appealing and also add a extra layer of complicaton between himself and Elliot.
The many issues dealt with in this book make it such a very interesting read and I could easily imagine reading this story for a second or third time and taking very different messages away from it. From family drama, slavery, genetic experimentation, religious persecution and pitfalls of scientific innovation, there are many important questions to ponder as a reader and this book did a great job of painting everything a delicious shade of grey and never tried to sway your point of view one way or the other.
This is such an engrossing book, I finished it within a day and it’s probably one of the best written novels I’ve read since Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If your looking for a book that makes you want to think yet still keeps you entertained then I can’t recommend this enough!(less)