Atticus and Oberon are back with aplomb. I do think that Oberon is one of the best urban fantasy sidekicks out there...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Atticus and Oberon are back with aplomb. I do think that Oberon is one of the best urban fantasy sidekicks out there! I just love the relationship between him and Atticus and the way they can speak mind to mind. This time it's not Celtic Gods picking fights with Atticus, it's witches, and we all know how much Atticus likes witches! (if you haven't read the first book, a lot trust me! )
There are some super evil German witches for Atticus to contend with this time. Which requires him calling in some reinforcements in the shape of lawyer vampire Leif and Indian witch Lakasha.
Once again Hearne delivers some absolutely cracking one liners that will leave you chuckling away. If they're not from Atticus or the aforementioned superb Oberon, they are probably from Atticus's delightful old lady widow neighbour. And Atticus trying to modernise Leif's speech caused more than a few chortles.
Atticus now has Granuaille as his apprentice, which adds a new dynamic to the Atticus and Oberon mix. I do like Granuaille, but I wished Hearne had done some more with her in this book. I feel like she's become a bit of sex object, although there is perhaps potential for romance later on in the series, I think she could have been developed so much further.
Atticus just works for me as a hero, I love how genuinely clever he is and that it is often his intelligence that gets him out of trouble rather than sheer luck or brawn. Don't get me wrong he can wield a sword big time when he needs to, but he is a fast, strategic thinker. Although he does seem to have some rather strange sexual encounters.
This book is a fun romp that mixes humour, action and brilliant characters that are drawn so well they are almost living and breathing. The grand finale did not have the same pizzaz as it did in 'Hounded'. There is a good fight and plenty of drama, but it didn't seem to grab me as much. I think to a certain extent it is setting up elements of the story in preparation for the next book. But, that certainly doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, 'Hexed' still has the un-put-downable quality of 'Hounded' and at times I even think it was funnier.
This series works really well as an audiobook, helped by one of my favourite audiobook narrators Luke Daniels. It really is very well produced and executed, a good series to try if you've not given listened to an audiobook before.
'Hexed' does not have quite the same spark as 'Hounded', but it is still filled with Hearne's excellent and witty characters and is now on my auto-buy list. And I'm already excited about 'Hammered', Atticus versus Thor... Bring. It. On! ;-)
I have to begin this review by stating just how much I loved this boo...moreReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
(9 out of 10 on the blog)
I have to begin this review by stating just how much I loved this book! I think it could very well be my favourite urban fantasy of the year so far. It's strange I tend to often stick to female lead characters in my books, but after reading 'Hounded' I think that's probably very shortsighted of me.
Atticus is a Druid, don't be fooled be his youthful appearance. He's not in fact 21, but 2100 years old. But Atticus hasn't survived this long by being the toughest and baddest around, no Atticus has lived this long by being very, very clever.
Unfortunately Atticus has also upset an ancient celtic God and been on the run from him for most of this time too, hiding a very powerful and dangerous sword from him. And it looks like Atticus's time may just about be up.
This book is so well written, it's pacy, imaginative, but best of all it's packed full of fantastic dry wit. Sometimes the wit is quite subtle and it sneakily catches up on you, causing a belated chortle. In fact overall this book is absolutely hilarious. It's shame I listened to it as an audio books otherwise I could quote some stunning one-liners to you.
Atticus is a great hero, while he is powerful, it was his cunning and intelligence that really made me like him, as he manoeuvred through situations through brain not brawn. But equally important is just how cool he is, the kind of coolness that comes about without that person even trying.
I also have to mention Atticus's awesome sidekick, Oberon the Irish Wolfhound. Who can communicate with Atticus mind to mind, which is handy as he can share with Atticus his obsession with French poodles and his dream of becoming like Genghis Khan. His latest hero of choice. And of course I mustn't forget the sausages!
Humour aside there also some superb action scenes, sword fights ahoy! Showing while he can be clever, Atticus can also kick some serious butt when required. The characters of this book are well thought out, mixing Irish myth into the story. As well as Irish Gods, you've got werewolves, vampires and witches. Plenty of supernatural species to keep you busy.
The narrator of this book was Luke Daniels, I've listened to a couple of books narrated by him and he is fast becoming one of my favourite audio narrators. He totally sucks you into the story and grasps the essence of the character he is portraying. Making this a really entertaining audiobook.
Quite frankly I defy you not to like 'Hounded'. It is without a doubt being added to my favourite urban fantasy book list. And I shall be purchasing the subsequent instalments very, very soon. If you love urban fantasy, it's a must-read.
'How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire' is quite a mixed book. On one ha...moreReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
(6 out of 10 on the blog)
'How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire' is quite a mixed book. On one hand there are some very funny scenes that had me chuckling away, even if at times it border-lined on the silly. It is also compromised of some fantastic characters. Aside from our two main characters, you have a security team made up of highlander (yes all in kilts), vampires. Gregori, Roman's head of marketing and his mother to name just a few. And Sparks characterisation itself is great. But there were also quite a few things wrong with it for me.
The story is around dentist Shanna Whelan who is in the Witness Protection Programme on the run from the Russian Mafia. Shanna also has a phobia of blood. Vampire Roman had a bit of an 'accident' biting something he should have (I won't spoil it for you as it's quite funny), and needs a dentist asap before he heals fangless.
Roman happens to turn up at Shanna's surgery just in time to rescue her from a mob hit and saves her life. Then discovers a big problem, he can't use mind control on her. So with her life on the line and the threat of being a one-fanged vampire, Roman takes her under his protection.
The vampire world Sparks has created his hilarious, from vampire cuisine blood, vampire tv, the fact that all vampires are not suave, brave and gorgeous, but geeky, scared, and as flawed as humans. It's a comedy as much as it's a romance. Roman is a great character, the handsome, wounded vampire genius. And Shanna is gutsy and brave, if a touch annoying at times.
But there were things that did not work for me. Firstly, the author does seem to have a fascination with the phrase 'God's Blood'. At one stage I decided to try and count how many times it was used is one chapter, and then quite frankly gave up. It's almost every paragraph and I did get to the stage that it seriously, seriously irritated me.
Another part of the plot I really disliked, was the concept of vampire mind sex. I've mentioned before how I particularly dislike the consummation of a relationship via a dream sequence, but this seemed even worse. The ability to have sex with multiple partners all at the same time, was a bit grim really. There was a course a scene of vampire mind sex between Shanna and Roman, and one stage he had about ten pairs of hands on her in intimate places, which came across as a bit creepy rather than sexy. Also, don't get me started on Roman's harem (yes he had one)...
The plot itself is a bit of a jumble and seemed to dot all over the place, and branch off into all sorts of different areas, trying to fit in too many things for one novel. Almost as though the author had too many ideas and perhaps should have kept some back for the next book. The audiobook was narrated by Suzanne Cypress, who was a great narrator. Creating different tones, voices and even convincing Scottish accents for each of the characters.
'How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire' is the first book in an eleven book series, so I can only imagine that the author's writing gets tighter and these issues get smoothed out. It certainly has a lot of potential as a series, Sparks' characterisation and humour really do make this book, and despite the few flaws it's an amusing and entertaining read. (less)
Where to start?! I loved, loved, loved it! This book is a re-read for me, well I guess technically a re-listen. I re...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Where to start?! I loved, loved, loved it! This book is a re-read for me, well I guess technically a re-listen. I read it back in 2010 and I enjoyed it. In fact it was one of my Top Ten Reads of 2010. And when I was sent it and Fire (the second book in the series) as audiobooks to review, I decided to read/listen to it again. I gave it 3/5 the first time, but after my second run through I’m going to have to increase it (what was I thinking?!)!
This really is a fabulous book. Cashore’s world building is immense and she has drawn a vivid picture of the seven kingdom GRACELING resides in, but what has the clincher for me was her completely rich and complicated characters.
Let’s start with the concept. A world where a select amount of people are born with a special gift, these people are called ‘gracelings’, these people are easily identified by their unusual different coloured eyes. For most people this might be swimming, cooking, dancing or even fighting. Enter our main character Katsa who at the age of eight, killed a man with her bare hands. Her grace is killing.
Katsa is such a unique and fascinating character. She is moody, strong, determined, wilful and often rude, refuses to ever marry and horrified at the idea of falling in love. She is awesome! She made me laugh regularly, she is one of the toughest heroines I’ve come across, I don’t think any of my favourites could take her!
It’s strange because in my own personal life, a lot of Katsa’s personal ideals differ vastly from my own. For example, the idea that marriage somehow makes a woman weaker, the fact that she never wants to be a mother. And while I did strongly disagree with these opinions, I understand that these thoughts, fears, and yes for Katsa horrors, are what made Katsa… Katsa. The life that she has lived, her grace, her upbringing do not endear her to a life of marriage and motherhood. But the writing twists its way until we see Katsa having to protect the life of a young girl against an unimaginable evil with her own. I respected her, for what made her tick, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride the plot took both Katsa and me as the reader on.
As a counter balance to Katsa we have Prince Po. He is much more grounded and down to earth, warm, kind and gentle, but ruthless in his own way. His grace is so cleverly developed as the book progresses, opening up his skill and friendship in ways with Katsa that I hadn’t anticipated.
The love story was unexpected. It was so sweet and tender, there was something quite beautifully innocent about it. It was completely lovely and captivating. I think I read too many romances as I so wanted the fluffy white wedding and due to the nature of the book, I knew I was never going to get it. But I still absolutely (yes I’m going to use the word again) loved it!
The plot, again … where to start?! Well it both begins and ends with a kidnapping. The first an old man, the second a young girl. And the journey in between is an intrinsically woven plot, drawn together bit by bit, unraveling like a powerful, lethal and beautiful snake.
The story has everything, fight scenes, love, betrayal, blackmail, a pure evil villain – I challenge you find one more sinister, an epic, terrifying journey, pain, heartache and at its core survival. Katsa develops from a young, slightly naive woman manipulated by her King, to a strong woman who understands the need for sacrifice for the greater good, and that understands that even her deadly grace cannot protect her from some of the most terrifying things life has to throw at her. You watch Katsa evolve and grow through several revolutions into a more rounded, whole and strong woman.
As this was an audiobook, I must take a moment to comment on the narration. Read by Emma Powell, it was rather nice and quite rare for me to listen due to my reading tastes, to listen to a British narrator and she was great. Powell bought the story and characters to life with her voice.
A superb novel, Cashore’s writing is rich, detailed and captivating. Even if you’re not a fantasy fan I would urge you to pick GRACELING up. An amazing start to a new series, three-dimensional characters that breathe off the page, a beautiful love story, an epic journey and everyone’s favourite battle of good versus evil. Go buy it!
'The Painted Man' is a phenomenal book. I listened to it as an audiobook and it was one of tho...moreReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
'The Painted Man' is a phenomenal book. I listened to it as an audiobook and it was one of those stories that I downloaded and wasn't really sure what to expect. At nearly 20 hours long, or 560 pages for the paperback version, it's a commitment and not a quick read. But it's well worth your time.
The story is set in a world where humans live in fear. At night, when the dark comes demons, known as 'corelings' rise from the ground. With supernatural powers and strength humans are no match for them, and each night they hide in their homes behind magical wards and pray that, that night won't be the night they fail. As the corelings grow, the human race is slowly diminishing.
Legend says that things weren't always this way, they tell of a man, 'The Deliverer' who led men and women onto the battlefield to meet the demons on equal ground. They speak of fighting wards that have since been lost. And prophecy decrees that one day 'The Deliverer' will return to lead the human race to victory once more.
There are three lead characters Arlen, Leesha & Royer. But Arlen is by far the most compelling. The story begins when Arlen is eleven years old and follows him as he suffers tragedy and pain. We watch as he slowly grows up, becoming increasingly frustrated with his existence, unable to bear a life of fear and hiding he embarks on a journey of discovery. A journey that leads him to suffering, sacrificing and ultimately rebirth as he becomes obsessed with finding a way to fight the demons.
Leesha is a girl perfectly happy to meet her fate, to marry young and bear her husband children. Until she is betrayed and everything changes. Surprisingly, she finds herself taken under the wing of the ancient, local herb gatherer where she begins to believe that her destiny maybe something very different from that which she originally imagined.
The third main character is Royer, while perhaps the least engaging of the three, his story still plays an important part. Orphaned at three years old after a hideous coreling attack he is raised by an alcoholic jaungler. His love of music leads him to an important discovery.
The story is carefully crafted layer by layer until you're almost desperate for the three main characters to meet. But you have to wait and be patient as the author builds the characters and story with meticulous care. The book is violent and uncompromising at times. There are incidents that will make you gasp. A couple of times I even found myself shouting at my iPod in frustration, as I willed each of the characters to succeed, or as I tried to prevent them from doing something stupid.
I fell for each of the characters, flaws and all and became absolutely absorbed in the story, until I was trying to think of ways to jump back in my car for another quick drive in order to listen to the audiobook some more.
I have to take the time for a quick comment on the narrator. He is the first male narrator I have listed to, which took a while to get used to, but as soon as I did I found he was excellent, building the story and tension nicely.
If you're a fan of fantasy, then this book is a must-read. It is epic fantasy at its ultimate finest. Peter V. Brett has drawn a powerful, engaging world that I couldn't get enough of.(less)
I am fast becoming a rather big fan of Kristin Cashore’s writing. You could be forgiven for thinking that book two i...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I am fast becoming a rather big fan of Kristin Cashore’s writing. You could be forgiven for thinking that book two in her Graceling Kingdom series would have the same world building we’ve already seen in Graceling. But, Cashore has cleverly crafted an additional rich and exotic world layered onto the clever landscape she has already depicted. I think it’s also fair to say if you really don’t need to have read Graceling to pick this book up. They could both quite happily be viewed as two separate stand-alone stories. I actually kind of wish there was more overlap, perhaps we will see this in Bitter Blue, the third book in the series.
Fire, our heroine lives in the Dells and she is the only living human monster. Monsters are vividly coloured, compelling and utterly beautiful version of normal animals, with mind control abilities. Think magenta horses, turquoise and gold tabby cats or bright green raptors.
Fire is a monster woman with red, gold and magenta hair, she hates that she’s stunningly beautiful, that some people lose their minds when they see her, wanting to possess her, to marry her, or there are those that would just prefer to kill her. She hates that she can control people with her mind, and every time she goes out she has to have a guard as animal monsters simply want to eat her. Or perhaps even worse than all of this, is the dark and cruel legacy her monster father has left before her.
This book truly vivid setting that completely draws you in. The world building is complex, rich and engaging. Even now, there is one scene where Fire rides out on her horse to save a group of soldiers and I can see it in my mind’s eye with almost cinematic quality.
The prologue actually began with Leck, a prequel to the cruel and evil King we meet in Graceling, and I found myself a little disappointed at first. Thinking to myself, we’ve met this baddie, we’re done with this baddie, I want a new one! But in actually first, as soon as I was over my initial irritation, once again Leck does most effectively wear his wicked crown. Thankfully, Fire also delivers with it plenty of additional villains to keep you entertained.
If I’m honest, I think I preferred Katsa from Graceling as a heroine, and I found I couldn’t help comparing them. But Fire did really grow on me, her sense of right and wrong, her repeated self-sacrifice, and the affection she feels for those she calls friends, even when those friends are not always kind to her demonstrated her a real strength of character. She became a solid heroine in her own right.
In addition, Cashore has created a rich array of characters, each so completely three-dimensional their flaws as important as their nicer qualities. For example, Archer, Fire’s best friend is one of these, he is noble, brave and full of love, but at the same time grumpy and impetuous. It’s also interesting to watch how Fire’s mesmerising beauty and mind control abilities play into these relationships. Where does the line between love and infatuation lie?
The love story was a real slow burner, and I mean real slow burner, have patience until the very end kind of one. But I think it would be hard for anyone not to fall for the brave, dedicated, honourable general that is Brigan. By the end I found I did want to see more of the two of them together, and that their scenes were just a touch too short for my satisfaction.
Technically, as Fire is 17, this is probably viewed as a YA novel. But as the rest of the characters were in their early 20s, and each had such huge responsibilities – a King, a general, warriors, a military strategist, the King’s sister responsible for running the kingdom, I think it’s fair to say that this is definitely on the older side of YA and not really a problem for me who generally steers clear of them.
Another great book from Cashore and for audiobook fans, also a well narrated story. I think I loved Graceling slightly more, but I think this is more to do with Katsa being awesome rather than due to any deficiency in Fire. I would recommend fantasy fans most definitely add this series to your reading list if you haven’t already.
Wow, it took a while to get going but the ending of this book is gorgeous! I was listening to it on audiobook and nearly had tears streaming down my c...moreWow, it took a while to get going but the ending of this book is gorgeous! I was listening to it on audiobook and nearly had tears streaming down my cheeks as I was driving to work. Can't wait to start Linger....(less)
**Warning contains spoilers for first book in the series**
As the winners of The Hunger Games, you would think that Katniss and Peeta's lives would be simple now. With more money than they could ever need, never having to worry about themselves or their families being hungry again. The only tedium being the celebrity interviews they are required to attend. But of course life will never be that simple for Katniss. Unwittingly Katniss's act of defiance at the end of 'The Hunger Games' has led her to become a symbol of the rebellion that is rapidly growing in strength. The ruthless President Snow cannot allow this to happen. In fact, he will manipulate Katniss into doing just about anything and threaten all those dear to her to save the his reign and the lives of the people in The Capitol.
This first half of this book spent a long time building the story and the complexity of the plot. But a little bit too much time for my liking was spent on the awkward love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gayle. This trilogy for me isn't about the love story, but the stark dystopian setting, political games and fight for survival.
I know I'm going to be going against the grain with this, but I'm afraid I'm team Gayle. There's something a little like a lost puppy about Peeta. He unequivocal love and selflessness towards Catniss is charming, but he does not have the grit and fight of Gayle. I look at Gayle and Catniss like two halves of a coin. Where Peeta and Catniss are not equal partners, forever circling around one another's plans.
The character that surprised me by really growing on me in this novel was Haymitch. You begin to understand the surly alcoholic. This reason for his loneliness and empty existence. What it must have been like year after year to send two children from district twelve to their death, barely able to help them. You realise he doesn't want to be sober, because he has no reason to. And surprisingly I began to really like him.
I didn't see the twist in the middle of the book coming, and my heart nearly broke for Katniss once more as she become the victim of President Snow's vicious manoeuvrings, as he desperately tries to quell the uprising.
This book throws in some great new characters, my favourite has to be the handsome and charismatic Finnick, he adds a new dynamic to the story. Can you, can't you trust him, who is the man behind the flirty facade?
Katniss is quite naive at times, but just when I was shaking my head at her for not keeping up, the storyline dealt me a revelation that had quickly passed me by and I realised she was not the only one who had been kept guessing. Actually there are quite a few surprises in this book, the ending itself was a shocker and I was glad I had the third audiobook lined up to listen to straight afterwards.
A fabulous second instalment in this very well written trilogy. Katniss keeps bouncing back no matter what is thrown at her and is no doubt a survivor. This book will throw some shockers at you and the second half is tense, gritty and action packed.(less)
I'm not usually one for sweeping statements, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with it here. This has to be on the list as one of the worst contemporary romances I've read. I will put a caveat and say that some people on Goodreads have given it 4 or 5 stars so this is my personal opinion, but it was sheer grit and determination that I persevered until the end. I've read a few Diana Palmer books before and I've found them a fun and cosy.
This is the story of FBI agent Kilraven and sweet and quiet dispatcher Winnie. Winnie has had a soft spot for Kilraven for a long time, but having lost his wife and daughter in a shoot out relating to a crime he was investigating, Kilraven does not want to settle down again.
My biggest problem with this novel is that the plot was both confusing and had a lot of holes in it. The murder mystery element of the story gets incredibly confusing. There are lots of characters and sub plots running which makes it very hard to keep track. I ended up getting a little lost as to who was who, and who was a suspect.
Then there were the general plot holes. For example, I found it quite remarkable after in the early chapters Winnie comments on how much she and her estranged mother look alike, so much so that her father used to beat her for it. Then when it turns out that Kilraven has been friends and worked with her mother in the FBI for years, he is stunned to find out she is Winnie's mother. Additionally, Kilraven's brother, also in the FBI, is in charge of the investigation into her wife and daughter's murder. What about personal interest? And there are lots of incidents like this, that just do not add up.
While this book was a contemporary romance, the story would have been much better suited as a historical. Firstly, let's take the reason Kilraven and Winnie 'have' to get married. During the course of the investigation, they will be staying alone in Winnie's family home in the Carribbean. As Winnie is a virgin, Kilraven does not want to sully her reputation by staying with her. So his solution to this problem is to marry her. Of course he then adds that they can then have have a dirty weekend together and then he can just divorce her afterwards! Despite knowing that Winnie has the total hots for him too. Despite my moral objection to Kilraven's view of using and discarding Winnie. Do people really think about women's reputations like this anymore?
Then, while discussing his problems with ex-wife, Kilraven's expresses how upset he was that his wife wasn't a virgin on their wedding night. I can take the fact that in a romance that more often that not the heroine is a virgin is this is part of the formula, and actually I usually find it quite sweet. But, let's face it this is the 21st century and the author needs to treat her readers like modern women.
In terms of the characters, I found Winnie sweet and I very much liked her, but I actually ended up entirely disliking Kilraven, finding him to be a cold and selfish person. Putting aside the implausible reason as to why they had to get married. The very reason he thought it would be acceptable is pretty ghastly. Then let's look at the sex scene itself. Kilraven ends up hurting Winnie so much during their consummation that she cries all the way through it. But this is ok because he hasn't had sex for seven years and couldn't help himself and you know, he made up for it afterwards! Ugh, at this point I did actually shout at my iPod.
The narrator to the audiobook was male. I'm not sure how I feel about male narrators to romance books, or whether I just did not engage with this narrator. But he certainly didn't help with my overall problems with the book. The falsetto voice he used for the female characters was very odd.
I do hate giving negative reviews to books as I am conscious that this is someone's livelihood. But I'm afraid my advice here would be to save your money.(less)
If you haven't read of the Harper Connolly series before, it's from t...moreReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
(6 out of 10 on the blog)
If you haven't read of the Harper Connolly series before, it's from the viewpoint of Harper a young woman who was struck by lightening in her teens and since then has been able to sense the dead. Not as in talk to the dead, but sense where they're buried, how long they've been dead for and the cause of death. Since that fateful day she and her stepbrother Tolliver have made a living traveling the country investigating the causes of different people's deaths.
Book four in the series is very much about Harper and Tolliver's family life, although of course the usual murder mystery element is included as Harper unintentionally unravels some deep family secrets at her latest job. We finally meet their half sisters, Tolliver's brother and Tolliver's drug addict father is released from jail much to their displeasure.
The action takes no time in getting going with Tolliver getting shot in their motel room and leaving Harper on her own. I hadn't quite realised how vulnerable Harper really was until her support was taken away, and without Tolliver she seems like a broken doll. Her actions were erratic and she seemed very lost.
This book very much felt like Charlaine Harris was drawing the series to a close, although I cannot find anything on her website that confirms that. But the great thing is we finally get some answers. Most importantly about Harper and Tolliver's past and what happened to Harper's sister Cameron who has been missing for years. This was the favourite part for me, it was nice to seem Harper finally find out the truth and be allowed to grieve for her sister.
What I did struggle with and didn't actually expect to was Harper and Tolliver's relationship. It's strange as I wanted them to get together in the last book and was really routing for them, having no problem with them being step brother and sister. But the relationship did not seem to translate that well in this book. Harper herself describes her relationship with Tolliver has having a certain 'ick' factor. And that's how it felt... Icky. I think I might have something to do with the fact that they still referred to themselves as brother and sister or perhaps this was enhanced by their family's reaction to their news. But the sex scenes just made me squirm uncomfortably in my seat.
This is the first time I have listened to one of Charlaine Harris books as an audiobook, instead of reading it in the traditional way. I'm a big fan of hers, but couldn't decide if the story lacked a little pace or the narrator was reading it too slow. Charlaine has a distinct and detailed writing style, and I wonder if it's that when I read her books myself I skip over a lot of the erroneous I had a shower and shaved my legs detail which she is quite famous for, and which seemed a bit tedious when described in an audiobook. I found myself getting a little bored at times.
This is not the best book in the series so far, but it was nice to finally get some answers about Harper's sister. If you're a fan of the books it is worth reading to get some closure, but I have to say I think Charlaine Harris has written a lot better. (less)
'I am Legend' is as much a psychological novel as a horror one. Robert Neville is the last surviving human of an apocalyptic plague that has turned ma...more'I am Legend' is as much a psychological novel as a horror one. Robert Neville is the last surviving human of an apocalyptic plague that has turned mankind into vampiric zombies. Written in the 1950s, it is as relevant to a modern day reader as it was fifty years ago.
Slow moving at first, the book focuses on Robert's every day plight for survival. The hum drum routine of foraging for food and supplies, to the horrific night time isolation when the vampires come calling for him.
But it soon becomes evident when the horror of the vampires has passed, it is the loneliness, lack of focus, routine and looking forward into a future of nothingness that terrifies Robert more.
We watch Robert crash between alcoholism and insanity through frenzied internal dialogues as life begins to no longer hold any meaning to him. Yet, a survivor to the core it is not in him to end his existence. But, when life no longer holds any meaning, how do you go on?
The writing is extremely intelligent, the prose detailed and poignantly descriptive. The narrative rises and falls in unnerving crescendos, propelling the reader through Robert's desperate highs and lows.
The ending was a surprise and eminently unpredictable and oh so very clever at the same time. It might sound like a cliche, but this is a book that will keep you thinking well after you have turned the final page. (less)
There has been so much buzz about this trilogy on the book blogosphere that I couldn't resist picking it up. But lik...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
There has been so much buzz about this trilogy on the book blogosphere that I couldn't resist picking it up. But like anything that gets lots of positive press, I was slightly nervous when I began listening to the audiobooks in case I didn't love them as much as everyone else. I needn't have worried!
The entire trilogy is narrated by Carolyn McCormick, who is a superb narrator. She really encapsulates Katniss's essence, the pace and the highs, lows and horrors of the story. I was sucked in and wrung dry through each book, barely able to press the pause button on my iPod.
Set in the future, 'The Hunger Games' is a fantastically compelling and dark dystopian novel. It tells the story of Katniss, a young woman who lives in district twelve of the poorest districts in the country, where many people suffer from hunger. Katniss helps feed her family by poaching daily in the local forest with her best friend Gale & selling any excess game on the black market.
This new world is brutal and cruel, ruled by the unscrupulous Capitol. Years ago the districts rebelled and the Capitol will never let it be forgotten. As a punishment, each year two children from each district, one boy and one girl aged between 12 and 18, are selected to enter 'The Hunger Games', a violent reality show where the children must fight to the death until one child remains.
Each year the town people pray it is not their child that is selected. Then the unthinkable happens, Katniss's little twelve year old sister gets selected for the games. Katniss has spent her whole life protecting her little sister and does the only thing she can think of and volunteers to go in her place.
Believing she is sentencing herself to a death sentence, the book tells of Katniss's journey leading up to and of the games itself. The tone shifts itself between unbearably painful, to shockingly violent and then to desperately sad. The narrative is written so well, you become fully submerged into Katniss's story willing her to survive after every shocking incident. Like her, you begin thinking she cannot survive, to daring to believe with her poaching skills maybe, just maybe she might be a contender.
Katniss is one of those heroines you cannot help but admire. She is vulnerable yet tough, naive, but at the same time intelligent and a fast and strategic thinker. The book does contain a slightly unexpected, and at times awkward love story. But it adds a really great twist the games itself.
There is one scene worth a special mention, not want wanting to spoil it, I shall say look out for the scene with the singing and flowers. You will know it when you reach it. If you manage to remain dry eyed, you are a tougher person than I!
This novel is also as much about social commentary as it is a fantastic story. It highlights current issues with popularity of celebrity and our fascination with the shallow and unimportant. It is perhaps at its darkest when it focuses not on the contestants of the games, but the shallowness of the people who organise it. The shock of the frivolous behaviour we see from the TV presenters as they gush over the contestants like they are the luckiest new celebrity in town, combined with such a macabre subject is ironic writing at its best. You can't help but see the inevitable comparisons it draws between 'The Hunger Games' and the plethora of reality TV shows that are on our screens everyday.
But also, there was something about this book that had a ring of George Orwell's '1984' for me. The dystopian setting, the ghastly government messages and the control and subjugation of people, society broken into tasks and regions. The terrible fear of what would happen to you if you voiced a criticism against 'The Capitol'.
A really stunning novel that I cannot help but implore you to read. It's excellent, and is one of those stories that sucks you in, churns you up and leaves you gasping for more. Don't let the dark premise put you off, yes it's gory and shocking at times and does involve children killing one another, but trust me when I say it's written very well, and is not gratuitous at all.(less)
The third and final book of the trilogy has a much darker tone (if you can believe it) than the first two. Katniss has now survived two horrendous hunger games, so much death and violence, and is now the face of the rebellion. Recovering in district thirteen, President Snow will stop at nothing to destroy her and all those she cares about. And to make things worse, he has Peeta...
None of the characters are who they were anymore, they are all slightly broken. Like china bowls that have been smashed and glued back together again, they are not quite complete or whole any longer.
I did miss the tough Katniss from the first two books, her fragility is painful to watch. I got excited when she fought in district two. But Katniss excels because she is a survivor, and there were times when I wanted her to get back up and keep fighting, to scream, kick and do everything she can possibly do to remain true to herself. But she has suffered too much to be unchanged.
As the book progresses and we learn more about district 13 and I became terrified that the survivors are just swapping one harsh dictatorship for another. I worry that the new world they fight for will not actually be new in anyway and that in itself is heartbreaking.
President Snow's ruthlessness knows no bounds. Just when you think Katniss and the tributes can't possibly suffer anymore, The Capitol throws some other appalling manipulation or punishment at them. And Peeta, oh Peeta what can I say? As much as I'm team Gale, I found that I missed the bread-baking, gentle Peeta who would do anything for Katniss.
As with the previous books, the second half was better than the first. It delivers plenty of twists and also prepare yourself for painful tragedy. Then comes the ending, a dark and uncompromising turn of events as Katniss has to make some terrible decisions.
I am in awe of Suzanne Collins' writing skills. I could not have predicted how this trilogy would have ended. In my opinion the first book was the best of the three, but this trilogy is an absolute must-read and is up there with my all time favourites.
I quite literally ached for Katniss and all of the atrocities she has endured. The epilogue itself was bitter-sweet, and prepared there is a good chance that tissues may be required.(less)
I picked up ANGELS’ BLOOD as I knew Nalini Singh was one of Carolyn’s favourites books and had read her fab review o...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I picked up ANGELS’ BLOOD as I knew Nalini Singh was one of Carolyn’s favourites books and had read her fab review of the book. I listened to it as an audiobook, and sometimes with an audiobook I don’t know if it’s the book I have issues with, or if it’s the narrator’s delivery of the story.
Singh has developed a really vivid and fascinating world ruled by beautiful and terrifying archangels. We have two great leads Elena the vampire hunter who can track vampires by smell and Raphael the Archangel of New York. Both of them strong, dark, and tough characters.
The backdrop to the story is the hunt for a mad and depraved supernatural killer. With her special tracking skills, Elena is recruited into help track the culprit down. The hunt is a gory, bloody one with plenty of tension and violence. There was no real mystery per-say, we’re well aware of who the murderer is from the onset, just a growing sense of foreboding as he grows in power and his acts become more depraved.
All good so far… My problem was that the book seemed to sink in the middle. The plot seemed to slow to a pace that I found myself getting bored and distracted. I felt like the investigation Elena was helping with didn’t pick up any real pace until the second half of the novel and because of this it fell slightly flat.
Then just when I wondered what all the fuss was about (I’ve seen so many reviews raving about this book), the climax began to build. Singh most definitely knows how to write a grand finale. The ending is thrilling, sad, romantic, violent and includes a great twist.
It took me a while to get into the potential relationship between Elena and Raphael, I thought they were both great characters in their own right, but it took me a while to buy into the chemistry. I didn’t like Raphael’s mind control abilities, and felt that this detracted from the relationship between them, making me irritated by him rather than finding him sexy at first. But, on the plus side, I thought his wings were fabulous and would so love to see them in real life, if only it wasn’t fiction!
I keep wondering if my frustration with the pace of the book was to do with the audiobook’s narrator, sometimes I do struggle with very American accents for example until I get used to their cadence. But if I think back to my review of Slave to Sensation, the first in Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, I had some of the same issues. Not really getting into the novel until the latter part of the story. So perhaps I struggle with Singh’s scene setting and writing style and it takes me until the second half of the story to really get used to it.
A mixed book for me, there were times when I struggled with the writing style and pace and the chemistry between the two main characters. But this was balanced by some great world building, strong rich characters and a really super finale. I have conflicting thoughts on Singh as an author, as I take a while to get into her writing. I do think I will pick up another of hers to try again, but I think this will be from her Psy-Changeling series which I preferred, although those sexy angel wings are tempting me!
I listened to 'The Desert Spear' hot on the tails of the first book...moreReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature (9 out of 10 on the blog)
I listened to 'The Desert Spear' hot on the tails of the first book in the trilogy, 'The Painted Man' which was outstanding, a definite 10/10.
The books take place in a world ruled by fear, where humans are afraid to come out of their warded homes at night. Because at night the corelings rise, powerful demons that consume human flesh. The human race has forgotten how to fight back. But, legend tells of 'The Deliverer', a man who led the human race into war and defeated the corelings. Legend decrees that he will return once more and the demons will be defeated.
The book starts with a small rewind and a little disconcertingly at first, Jardir takes up the narrative. Jardir is the leader of the Krasians, the only race that dares to fight the demons each night. Where children are taken from their mothers at a young age and trained to be powerful warriors, and non warriors are scorned as lower level citizens.
After 'The Painted Man' I had grown to hate Jardir, his selfish and shocking betrayal was unforgivable in my opinion. But it says something of Peter V Brett's writing skills that it wasn't long before Jardir sucked me in and I found myself thoroughly enjoying his story. And, dare I say it, even liking him.
As with the first book, the story is split into different parts. That of Jardir, the Krasian leader, Arlen, the painted man, Royet the jaungler and Leesha, the beautiful herb gatherer. We also revisit Renna, the young woman Arlen was promised to as a boy.
Peter V Brett's world building is spectacular. From the Krasian society with its Middle Eastern influence, to the small village of 'Deliverer's Hollow' each place is tangible. The characters three dimensional, the heroes are as flawed as they are brave.
I spent a lot of the book desperate to get another glimpse into Arlen's world and you do have to wait! Watching him through the eyes of Leesha for a long time before he gets his own chapters. But, it's worth the wait! His trip down memory lane, back to Milne and ultimately Tibbet's Brook had me riveted.
After the first book, I had a clear vision of where I wanted the main love story to go and if you are, like me a romantic, be warned, it does not go down the predictable route. Which lead me to spend some of the book cursing at one of the main character's taste in partners.
Renna was an interesting development, because I did not expect to see her again. A lot her chapters were hard going and due to the brutality she experienced, it occasionally had my stomach churning. But she has made an interesting addition to the growing army of people to support Arlen's journey.
With scenes of uncompromising violence, as well as sexual abuse against both men and women, if you're easily offended, the this book may not be for you. But it is part of the brutal world that the characters live in and does contribute towards the overall story.
As the book draws to its conclusion, there is one question on everyone's lips; who is the real deliverer? Is it Jardir with his magical spear, or Arlen who has tattooed magical wards onto his bare flesh and walks unaided and undefeated through the night? I know who my money is on, and can hardly wait for the two to come face to face in the final instalment of the trilogy.
The book is narrated by the same person as 'The Desert Spear', so I settled back into his reading style easily and comfortably. One strange thing though, I'm not sure why Renna and her family had a pseudo Irish accent?!
If you haven't read these books I would heartily encourage you to do so, they are superbly written. High fantasy novels at their finest.
The release date for the third book can't come soon enough!(less)
I'm sorry but I have to give up on this one. As I'm listening to as an audiobook, I can't decide if it's the narrator or the writing I'm not getting o...moreI'm sorry but I have to give up on this one. As I'm listening to as an audiobook, I can't decide if it's the narrator or the writing I'm not getting on with. But it feels very cumbersome. The language and description is over constructed and I find myself getting very frustrated with it. I can't quote directly as I do not have a physical copy to quote from - but I remember one phrase something along the lines of - my words falling of his broad shoulders like raindrops - as I say not an totally accurate quote, but you get the idea. A lot of the phrases are unwieldy. As a consequence I haven't really engaged with the characters or really got sucked into the story-line, so I have decided about half way through to give up on it. Not my cup of tea, but there are some good reviews out there, so it could just be me. (less)
*Warning small spoiler towards the end, but the paragraph is highligh...moreReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
(8 out of 10 on the blog)
*Warning small spoiler towards the end, but the paragraph is highlighted so you can skip it*
This book reads like a fairytale, a grown up Cinderella story. Carpenter's daughter Ellysetta is on the verge of being trapped into a marriage with hideous butcher's son, when something unbelievable happens. The infamous and powerful Rain Tairen Soul arrives and claims she is his shei'tani, his true mate.
Rain Tairen Soul is the Lord of the Fading Lands and a Fey warrior. His people have never recovered from a terrible war with the Dark Mages over a thousand years ago and it has been centuries since a new Fey child has been born. Worried about the survival of his race, he is desperately seeking for a solution. He never expected to find his true mate. In fact, Rain is a Tairen, and the Tairen do not have true mates. So her discovery is unbelievable, but at the same time undeniable.
Of course, everyone knows what happened the last time Rain had a mate, and she wasn't even his shei'tani. Her murder nearly bought about the destruction of the world. A darkness Rain nearly didn't come back from. He is man of legend and ferocity.
The romance in this book is absolutely tender and captivating. Ellie's vulnerability and naivety perfectly offsets Rain's darkness and power, whilst at the same time complementing one another. I adored the rags to riches element of the story. Poor, common Ellie stealing the heart of the King of the Fey.
As the first in the series the novel is setting up the story for later books. The burgeoning blackness, the rise of the Mages once again and a poignant discovery about Ellie's parentage.
This novel does have a strong fantasy setting that may put off some, but if you don't usually read this genre don't let it put you off. I would go as far to say that if you're an epic fantasy fan this book isn't for you. This is a stunning romance through and through, with an unusual fantasy background.
The one downside of listening to fantasy story as an audiobook is that it can make all of the unusual names and places harder to get your head around. For some reason I find them easier to grasp when I can visualise how they're spelt.
The narrator of the audiobook was very good, however, the production itself seemed to be very poorly edited. The switches between narrative phrases were too short, there were jumps in the story without pause which messed up the rhythm of the audiobook. Then you would have long gaps and you'd think it was a break and then dialogue between characters would continue. Which got quite irritating.
*Spoiler in the next paragraph*
As much as I loved this book, I have marked it book down a point, because it contains one of my pet hates. I don't have a problem with dream sequences in general, in a lot of stories they play an important part. But, what I cannot stand is the consummation of a relationship via a dream sequence. It you aren't there in person and flesh isn't touching flesh, then it isn't real!
The love story between Ellie and Rain is so magical, the tension, genuine love and affection grown so tenderly, that it was a scene I anticipated. Rain had sworn a Fey oath to Ellie's father that he wouldn't make love to Ellie before they were married, and this just felt like such a cop out! I'd have rather of waited until the next book for the real deal.
*End of spoiler*
The romance of this book totally swept me away. I really cannot wait to read (listen) to the next instalment in Ellie and Rain's love story. Frustratingly, it doesn't seem like it's been recorded yet, or at least not for distribution in the UK. Let's hope that changes soon!
Fans of romance will love this story and I'm really excited to have found this series, because if they're as good as this book I know I'm going to adore them. (less)