This is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. Lochan and Maya are best friends who have known each other their entire lives and have helpedThis is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. Lochan and Maya are best friends who have known each other their entire lives and have helped each other and fiercely loved one another through the many brutally painful experiences of growing up.
The thing is, they also happen to be brother and sister, and the unholy mess of the repercussions from their choices looms over this entire story.
No one who picks up a book like this can be unaware of the potential pitfalls. It's all too easy for an author to resort to the tasteless exploitation of sticky sentiment or breathy fumblings that heighten the excitement of a taboo relationship. What you'll find instead with Forbidden is a book written with stunning insight and incredible compassion, and two characters who will absolutely break your heart.
There is very little dialogue in this novel, and the narrative alternates in chapters between Lochan and Maya's points of view. As such, the reader gets to know both of them very well and experiences in minute detail the complicated terror of their lives at home. The two of them essentially function as the parents of three younger siblings in their household, as they have no father and their alcoholic mother neglects them for weeks at a time. The relationship between 17-year-old Lochan and 16-year-old Maya, already close since they were children, changes subtly and realistically as they gradually become aware of each other as adults.
The clarity of vision and strength and selflessness of both these characters is unparalleled in any young adult book I've ever read, and the way the author draws the reader in with their relationship is astounding. The intimacy and companionship, the joy and maturity, and the self-doubt and heavy responsibilities of these two young people drawn together in a terrible situation is described with extraordinary empathy and understanding.
Without the cruelty and selfishness of similarly challenged characters in books like Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden or the confused, casual amorality of Janet Inglis' characters in the novels Darling and its follow-up Father of Lies, Forbidden intelligently and passionately explores emotions that feel desperately genuine and impossibly tragic. As the book builds unbearably to its unforgettable and devastating conclusion, the things that Lochan and Maya will sacrifice for the ideals of love and responsibility are astounding.
This is perhaps not a perfect book, but it is one that may open up a tiny crack in your armor and flood you with unexpected feeling. Whatever your pre-conceived notions about the sensitive subject of this novel, I defy anyone with a heart to experience the vibrant, pulsing emotions in this story and remain unmoved. I wept like a child--I bet you will, too.
Imagine a place where there are no Elders. No rules. No punishment. Only music and laughter and freedom.
Deadly pleasures await on Ixion, an eerie islaImagine a place where there are no Elders. No rules. No punishment. Only music and laughter and freedom.
Deadly pleasures await on Ixion, an eerie island where young people are transported twice a year when they want to indulge in hedonistic pursuits. It is always night here, and every conceivable vice is available and encouraged. Retra has gone to Ixion in order to find her brother Joel, but her sheltered upbringing makes her cringe at the excess on display. She knows, however, that she cannot stand out and must give into pleasure before she can find what she most desires.
This is a wildly exciting novel filled with visual splendor. There are balloon gondolas. Sleek, stingray-shaped powerboats. Female pirates. Cloaks made of bat skins. Electro-eyes that spy on citizens. Obedience strips that control people with pain. And deadly night creatures who pounce if anyone dares to stray off permitted paths. The island of Ixion feels cool and edgy and treacherous, and the author does a fantastic job of allowing the reader to clearly visualize the thrilling world into which Retra is thrust. I love this passage in particular, which describes the clubs on the island:
Despite her nervousness a thrill pimpled her skin as she absorbed and made sense of the view: lights of every colour, some in soaring arcs, some in clusters, others scattered--ruby, glowing cobalt and bullion gold. A streak of emerald snaked through the middle, dividing the vista in two. The light haloes bled into each other, forming a misty night rainbow.
Ret wants nothing more than to find Joel, so she's determined to forgo the dancing and the music and the drugs and the sex. But she's constantly thinking about Markes, an attractive musician who catches her eye, as well as Lenoir, a dangerously seductive and powerful member of the Ripers, who are the guardians of Ixion. I have to say that I'm not quite sure what Retra sees in Markes other than outward attractiveness, as he seems relatively indifferent to her attention...but it's hard to say what's going on with Lenoir too, since he's holding so much back.
I was incredibly excited by the atmospheric lure of the island, and I liked many of the characters that populate it. I was surprised to find, however, that some of the dialogue was not nearly as elegant as the surroundings, and actually bordered on being a little stiff at times. I would also have liked to have seen more emotional depth with the relationships between Ret and her brother and her friends and her love interests. The author describes the sensations of pain and confusion and temptation so well that it would have been great to see that matched with equally vibrant emotional connections.
Still, the story is really fascinating, and the world is superbly immersive in a way that most dystopian YA novels are not. It's also very daring, in that there are frankly sexual (though non-graphic) encounters in Ixion as well as startling violence. There are interesting ideas about the pursuit of pleasure and the nature of human beings surviving in a totalitarian society, and it will be exciting to see whether the whiff of rebellion fully forms in the second installment of the trilogy. There is dark, seductive beauty in the world that Marianne de Pierres has created, and I think most readers will quite enjoy their visit.
This book was part of the Aussie YA Reading Challenge, hosted by my friend Nic over on Irresistible Reads! It's the second book I've read by an Australian author this year following Rebecca Lim's Mercy, and I'm really enjoying this challenge so far. Sadly, Burn Bright is currently only available in Australia and New Zealand, but hopefully Random House will give it a wider international release soon. If, like me, you cannot wait and would like to order it in the meantime, it's available for international shipping from the Australian bookseller Dymocks.
Have you ever stood in your house, listening to a quiet, unfamiliar noise, and felt the hair rise on the back of your neck? Cas Lowood has, and the unHave you ever stood in your house, listening to a quiet, unfamiliar noise, and felt the hair rise on the back of your neck? Cas Lowood has, and the unholy hell of what he finds when he investigates will make you jump a little bit in your seat. He's a 17-year-old who kills the dead with a magic athame, just as his father did before him--and now he's faced with the task of killing Anna, a homicidal ghost who was murdered more than 60 years ago.
Cas is a fantastically strong and appealing protagonist, but it's really Anna who takes center stage. Imagine the visual of a pale girl with inky hair floating in a dark house, her beautiful white dress slowly drip-drip-dripping with blood. She's deadly dangerous and full of vengeful fury, however, because of the way she was killed. When you find out what really happened to Anna, it's hard not to feel terrible pity for her--and to understand why Cas has such a hard time killing her.
If you've been looking for a great YA horror novel, look no further. Anna Dressed in Blood is a stunning novel, full of atmospheric spookiness and unthinkable horrors. I cringed reading about ghosts with stones where their eyes should be, I yelped when Cas goes down into a basement full of...dreadful things, and my eyes got as big as saucers when the walls starting bleeding. But although the descriptions are full of vivid imagery and there's plenty of brutal action, what happens isn't at all gross. If anything, there's a dark beauty in the descriptions and an elegance in the writing that makes every scene a true pleasure to read. My reading status updates will give you a peek at some of the lines and scenes that particularly made me shiver, but I really had to restrain myself from posting one every couple of pages, as there's so much to savor, even in simple but humorous lines such as "She's wearing the same smile as her cat." I found just as much to love in the writing as I did the fantastic story, and the cheeky humor made me laugh even in dire and inappropriate circumstances.
This is the darker, more grown-up version of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and it's much more violent and much more polished. Anna offers an unforgettable thrill of a ride--and it catapulted instantly to my favorites list for the year. I am so excited about this author and I can't wait for the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, to come out in 2012. Read it, read it, read it! I promise it will make you shudder, in the very best of ways.
Searching for another kick-ass urban fantasy heroine? Look no further, because McKenzie Lewis has arrived. Caught in a fascinating war between the faeSearching for another kick-ass urban fantasy heroine? Look no further, because McKenzie Lewis has arrived. Caught in a fascinating war between the fae king and the rebel faction, she is kidnapped by the rebellion, who wants to use her special cartography skills for their own means. McKenzie fights to escape in some seriously great action scenes, but gradually she starts to wonder whether the truth behind the war is even more complex than she ever imagined.
What's intriguing about McKenzie is that unlike most other urban fantasy heroines, she's not a warrior. She has no magic sword, she doesn't have mad martial arts skills, and hell, she can't even fire a gun. But she is an exceptionally gifted shadow reader, a person who can see the trace imprints left behind when one of the fae has teleported to another location. The author does an amazing job of showing us how special McKenzie is, particularly in scenes involving a tracking test that's set up for her by the rebels. This girl is fierce and determined and fearless and funny, and I liked how she actually thinks and reasons. You know how sometimes you want to yell at the page because something should be occurring to the heroine, but it doesn't because the author wants to let the story drag on? It's like McKenzie hears you yelling loud and clear and answers you immediately in her actions. But I also like that she's so very human in the middle of all the powerful magic and power plays exhibited around her. She miscalculates, she doesn't know whom to trust, and she actually bleeds and feels pain in a jarring, wince-inducing way. And I like that in the middle of a blistering attack when her own life is in danger, she stops to rescue a little squirmy kimki animal.
And yeah...there are a couple of really sexy guys in this book. McKenzie's been waiting 10 years for something to happen in her forbidden relationship with the strong and principled Kyol, the king's swordsman; but her rebel captor, Aren, is also strangely compelling, with awesome healing powers and a pesky habit of making her feel things for him that she shouldn't be feeling. (Oh, and he has disheveled, sexy hair, too. :D ) Love triangles are usually equal parts agonizing and annoying, but the romantic entanglements are handled incredibly well here. It's like the Dorian-Kiyo thing (view spoiler)[without the murderous deceptive part (hide spoiler)] but done in a much more sophisticated, non-icky, non-frustrating way. I like that everyone behaves honorably and that fae politics and war add so many complicated layers to the situation; while everyone has secrets and agendas, it's clear why both men are so attractive to McKenzie, because both are certainly very attractive to us. The electricity running under her skin whenever she's touched by one of the men is incredibly hot, especially considering that there is no actual sex in any of these relationships. Yet.
Aren holds on for a moment more, his lips and hands lingering as if this is his last breath. As if this is the only breath in his life that has ever mattered.
"Fine," he says, his words coming out breathless. "I'll save your precious sword-master, McKenzie. But I will never, ever give you back to him."
I'm really happy to find another great series, especially one that features such a smart and funny heroine and a well-plotted story. If you're a fan of Richelle Mead, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, or Chloe Neill, don't wait another minute! This is urban fantasy series you've been waiting for.
P.S. If you're still not convinced, let me just say that I made the mistake of starting this book when I went to bed late at night and I was so hooked, I couldn't put it down until I finished it at 6 am. By the time I woke up a few hours later, a few of my friends had already purchased it..and it looks like they really enjoyed it, too. Yay!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I enjoy a great romance novel now and again, and I like it when there are relationships in most of the YA books that I read. But the key word for me iI enjoy a great romance novel now and again, and I like it when there are relationships in most of the YA books that I read. But the key word for me is romance, not just hormones and sex. I felt like Ari, who is too good to be true in many aspects, was a little too fixated on boys in this book between her long-standing crush on her brother-in-law, her ennui over her ex-boyfriend, her interactions with Del, and her relationship with Blake. While I remember being 17 and dealing with those crazy teenage hormones, that in and of itself isn't altogether that interesting to read about. At least not the way it's done here.
There are a few conversations between Ari and Blake about what they want in the future, but overall I felt like most of the book was about her wanting a boyfriend and her boy troubles, with the occasional friend, family, and SAT drama tossed in. I'd be okay with a book that was all about a relationship if there was more joy or depth or caring to it (see Sixteenth Summer) , but somehow I just wasn't convinced that either Ari or Blake really wanted and needed that specific other person. I think there's actually more time spent on the sex than on the boyfriend/girlfriend stuff...and I found it annoying that infidelity is so casually treated and forgiven. Ari is also a pretty terrible friend in this book. While we all through periods of self-centered sometimes, it's pretty crappy when you realize you've been a bad friend but you can't be bothered to truly apologize for it.
This isn't a bad book by any means, but the subject just didn't really grab me and I didn't feel moved by the relationship or the story. Oh, well. The author does deserve some credit for not going the usual route with the resolution, though. Even if there was some part of me that sort of wanted it after everything that everyone (myself included) had gone through....more
4.5 stars Oooo, smut smut smut smut smut. :D Is it terribly shallow to admit that I snapped up this book because I heard there was hot *whispers* drag4.5 stars Oooo, smut smut smut smut smut. :D Is it terribly shallow to admit that I snapped up this book because I heard there was hot *whispers* dragon sex in it? I rarely read paranormal romances these days, but all of the reviews I saw for this book were raves, so I was wild with curiosity. Besides, I have a serious weakness for shapeshifters, which has sometimes led to disastrous reads and sometimes led to really fun ones. I'm happy to report that in this case, the book more than lives up to the hype.
The story is actually really good, and so well-plotted that in some ways, I'd say this is a lot closer to urban fantasy than your typical PNR; there's as much focus on the story as there is on the relationship. Pia, the central character, is very strong and principled. When we first meet her, she's just been coerced into stealing from a powerful dragon lord. Being a clever woman, she's stolen only a single penny, and she even left a note of apology in its place. Dragos doesn't care, however, and comes after her with all the force of his formidable powers and bristling with outrage and fury. Things begin to get interesting when they realize that Pia's coercion is actually part of a bigger political game between the Fae and the Elder Races...and when they discover their unwilling attraction to one another.
And boy oh boy, is this relationship HOT. Dragos is a very, um, masculine guy and he's overwhelmingly attracted to Pia. The rumors of crazy dragon sex in this book were not exaggerated, but what I also love is that the relationship between them is portrayed with a great deal of respect and tenderness. They're strong as individuals, but they're so great together that you really want them to overcome all their obstacles and get their happily ever after. The secondary characters are also great, and the set-up for the next book Storm's Heart is skillfully woven into the plot.
Aside from a small bit of info-dumping in the beginning, this is an exceptionally well-written novel for the genre, and filled with humorous situations and hilarious one-liners. Several of my friends have pulled this out as a favorite quote, and I have to share it as well, because it just makes me giggle:
“So is that your long, scaly reptilian tail or are you just happy to see me?”
Tee hee hee. How can you not laugh? This is a book that isn't afraid to poke fun at itself, which is a nice change from all the paranormal books that take their own mythology so seriously. Speaking of which, I also enjoyed the reveal of Pia's mysterious past and her...powers. It was a fun surprise and perfectly done.
If you're inclined to read this sort of book, I can't recommend this enough--it's truly the best PNR book I've ever read. Every element that you could consider--the story, the magic, the characters, the romance, the sex, the writing--is absolutely terrific. You really couldn't ask for a more entertaining read....more
Firstly: although Maggie Blair is accused of being a witch, readers should know that this is a work of historical fiction and it has no supernatural eFirstly: although Maggie Blair is accused of being a witch, readers should know that this is a work of historical fiction and it has no supernatural elements whatsoever. The book's description and cover art could probably use a bit of adjusting to make the focus of the book a little more apparent.
Even taken as a work of historical fiction, however, this story is interesting but it's not particularly riveting. It's well written enough, but it lacks a certain urgency and passion that you'd expect from such a compelling subject. The author has clearly done her research into 17th century Scotland and it seems that this story is loosely based on events from her family's history--but that very thing may be the root of the problem. The approach is a little too academic and little too even-keeled. It's also severely hindered by a relentless stream of what may be historically accurate, but incredibly polarizing overuse of biblical passages.
Readers who are interested in the topics of puritanical persecution and wrongful accusations would do better to try Elizabeth George Speare's YA classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond or Arthur Miller's scorching play The Crucible. Both these literary works offer not only an idea of how religious fervor has played a tragic role in world history, but also some sense of the burning passion that can lead to those unfortunate events. Without inciting genuine emotion and interest, a work of historical fiction--no matter how competently rendered--remains merely a thinly disguised history lesson.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review....more
How far would you go to save the person you loved most in the world? And what if he were already...dead?
Wren's boyfriend Danny died in a car accidentHow far would you go to save the person you loved most in the world? And what if he were already...dead?
Wren's boyfriend Danny died in a car accident before she had a chance to say goodbye. In a moment of grief, she brings him back from the dead with a powerful spell. But she soon realizes that the boy brought back is no longer quite the boy she loved.
I was really impressed by many aspects of this novel. From the description, I expected to find a typical YA paranormal romance, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the author spends a great deal of time reflecting on love, loss, grief, and responsibility. She skillfully sketches out the close relationship between Danny and Wren, and specifically shows us what an adorable boyfriend and great person he was. So it's all too easy to feel sympathy for Wren's pain and to understand how her bereavement led her to grasp for such a incredible solution without considering the enormity of the consequences.
Wren is a great character, too, full of complexity and conflict and confusion. She has dyed hair and piercings and a mouthy exterior, but she's also close to her sister, trying to understand her mother and the powers she's inherited, and estranged from her two best friends. The first half of this novel was extremely compelling to me as I was drawn in by Wren's struggle to balance the exhausting demands of her terrible secret with the ties she has to her everyday life, and I felt a great deal of sympathy for the guilt and grief that overwhelms her, as well as a great deal of admiration for the way she accepted responsibility for the choices she had made.
The story started to lose its magic for me, however, as Wren began to neglect Danny more and more. While at first, it seemed understandable that she would simply put him to sleep when she needed to leave because of his increasing awareness and dependence upon her, it began to happen far too much for my comfort, particularly after a certain turning point. (The paranormal aspects of the book are also very slight.) While I wasn't enraged by the presence of Gabriel, the new boy who is attentive towards her, as I think it's a natural progression in life, I don't think that it was necessary to have given him the kind of insight that he had. It didn't really add anything to the story, and made his role both much more and much less important than it needed to be. Had the book focused more on Wren and the importance of learning to let go, reading it would have been a much stronger and much more gut-wrenching experience.
Overall, I liked this book but didn't love it as much as I initially thought I would. The interesting premise and the emotional themes that were introduced in the beginning just weren't explored quite as deeply as I'd hoped they'd be--which is a shame, because with a little more development, this slight book had the potential to transcend the genre and to be something really, really great.