Rating for Night Huntress 6.5: OK, this was superb. Cat and Bones and... IAN? at the top of their game. I haven't seen them this strong, this fun, thiRating for Night Huntress 6.5: OK, this was superb. Cat and Bones and... IAN? at the top of their game. I haven't seen them this strong, this fun, this sexy and clever for a few books now, and it's a joy to witness.
I don't often think novellas are must-reads, but this one can't be missed. It's just too good....more
First Thoughts: It took me an age to warm to this book, but once I did? Wow. The world is terrifying and fascinating, the characters' pain is palpable aFirst Thoughts: It took me an age to warm to this book, but once I did? Wow. The world is terrifying and fascinating, the characters' pain is palpable and the romance? Phwoar. Book 2, please!
In Sanctum, Sarah Fine's début offering, nightmares walk the streets of a hellish city, normal girls can be fierce warriors, and tortured boys so much more. The world of Sanctum is terrifying and fascinating, the characters’ pain palpable, and the romance? Phwoar.
"Would you risk your afterlife to save your best friend’s soul?" I’m not sure I would if the friend was Nadia, but, Lela would. Especially since she owes Nadia her life.
Nadia helped Lela recover from the darkest point of her life; overcome a history of neglect, abuse and depression... Only to succumb to darkness herself. When the seemingly perfect, sunny Nadia takes her own life, Lela is shattered, unable to comfort herself with thoughts of Nadia being in a better place. She’s haunted by dreams of a shell-shocked Nadia wandering the streets of a place Lela knows all too well--the place all suicides go on their death. A place worse than the life they fled from. Lela will do anything to save Nadia from her fate, even risk death, itself. But Sanctum is not Nadia’s story. It is Lela’s. And while it is a story of love, and a kind of selfless friendship that crosses worlds, it’s a little something more.
Sarah Fine approaches her story with a unique background -- she’s a psychologist. Sanctum deals with suicide, and it’s done well, Fine capturing conflicting feelings of guilt, despair, anger and betrayal from its ‘left behind’ protagonist, but what sat uncomfortably true was its departed Nadia’s hopelessness and pain.
It’s a dark book, dealing with dark matters, but, for the most part, it doesn’t feel like a book about suicide. It reads as Urban Fantasy, with all the dark, gritty hallmarks of the genre. What Sanctum does well is the creepy, the visceral, the haunting. Tortured souls wonder the streets of Suicide City, grasping at ‘things’ to fill their empty spaces; monsters hide within the shadows, and without. Nightmares grow and grasp like living creatures, and in one particularly disquieting scene, a building which feeds people their own fears in order to consume them left me with chills.
Sanctum’s heroine, Lela is tough, brave and damaged. At times she felt forced, and with her voice to guide me, it took me some time to fall into the story’s flow. But, once she held me her grasp, it did not let go. When she’s not posturing and telling the reader she’s tough and people don’t mess with her because she done time on the inside, yo, I liked her immensely. It’s the fragile, aching inside of her, not the tough girl exterior, I grew to love. She’s capable of great selflessness, as indicated by her willing trip to hell to save her friend’s soul, but there are times when her selflessness puts others on the line, teetering dangerously close to its antonym. There’s an interesting theme of choice here, or perhaps, if not choice, the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. The lines between both in Sanctum are vague, as they can be in real life.
Of course, at the core of Sanctum is a romance, intense and sexy as could be wished for. Lela falls for Malachi, King of the Underworld. Okay, okay, he’s not at all King or ruler. He’s a guard, a protector, with some very dark secrets. The two share an instant attraction and fascination with one another, and it develops, while alarmingly fast at first, into something far deeper. To put it succinctly, when I finished the book, my thoughts on the romance could be distilled into one word: phwoar — It’s totally a word, right?
That romance aside, Malachi himself was, for me, the story’s greatest draw, and as his long history unfolds in Sanctum’s final pages, I found it hard to look away.
The Verdict So there you have it. Sanctum. Combine scorching chemistry and a creepy, living world, built of old and new. Add swords, knives, a kickass heroine and dashing, tortured hero. Then take another girl — a broken one; a friendship and loyalty powerful enough to reach across worlds, and you’ll have Sanctum. To quote another, far more eloquent, reviewer, Sanctum is “an amazing story of loss and redemption and courage and grief, but I know you’re all skimming this paragraph to hear about the boy, right?” Well, the wait was worth it, and I’m sure you, ‘dear reader’, will find it so, too....more
First Thoughts: I liked Penelope a lot. Sweet, funny and charming, Penelope has this delightfully oddball naivety, and she's a joy to read.
It’s not eveFirst Thoughts: I liked Penelope a lot. Sweet, funny and charming, Penelope has this delightfully oddball naivety, and she's a joy to read.
It’s not every day a book like Penelope finds itself in one’s hands – or mailbox. Accompanied not by a press release, but by a personalised note singing its praises and a double-sided page of gushing commendations from the staff of its Australian publisher, Penelope made grand promises, and charmed me from page one.
The Story: Those of us who didn’t have our day in high school, are often advised to wait. That high school isn’t everything. That, eventually, the popular kids will wind up selling cars or hamburgers, while for us, the awkward, the quiet and the outsiders, the best is yet to come. As Elizabeth Halsey sagely advises in Bad Teacher, “I’m thinking college is your window.”
So it is, with years spent cultivating personality, peculiar anecdotes about car seats and a Tetris addiction to rival Elvis’ love of cheeseburgers, Penelope arrives at Harvard ready for her day. And her first year is going to be a very long day.
The 101: Now. I loathe the word ‘quirky’ with an irrational intensity. Yet I can think of no term which better suits Penelope and its titular protagonist. With its sweet, intellectual humour and matter of fact whimsy, there is a touch of fairytale to its pages.
Penelope herself is a peculiar character, hapless and naïve, yet practical – somewhat. There’s something of Amelie to her and, despite claiming to loathe whimsy in all its forms at one point in the novel, she’s possessed of a certain matter-of-fact dreaminess which fits the word perfectly. What makes her so utterly charming is how relatable she is as a character. From her social awkwardness and proclivity for playing Tetris on her phone instead of talking to her vaguely neurotic way of seeing any given situation, I rather felt I knew Penelope as I know myself.
With the familiar tone of a humorous observer and a plot concerned not with what is happening, so much as to whom, Penelope has been likened to the work of Wes Anderson, and it is not difficult to see why. There’s a delightful incongruity between Harrington’s writing and the book’s semi-adult subject, and it is this which lends the book its fairytale leanings. After all, infant-eating witches are not light reading, but when told with childlike honesty it lends new perspective. Penelope is hardly this dark, but the deceptive simplicity and levity of its tone hides something sweeter and deeper.
The Verdict: Penelope is not a love story, nor a coming of age story, but a simple insight into Penelope and her friends' life with often humorous honesty. With an affable and ‘quirky’ protagonist and Rebecca Harrington’s charming prose, Penelope's delightful naïveté will prove a welcome balm to all who have ever felt out of place....more
The Story: The year is 1926. It’s the height of prohibition, the Roaring Twenties are in full swing, and the streets of New York shine with the electriThe Story: The year is 1926. It’s the height of prohibition, the Roaring Twenties are in full swing, and the streets of New York shine with the electric light of promise.
It’s here, sent from her home in Ohio, in a dusty, largely ignored museum we find Evie O’Neill. And she couldn’t be happier. Evie’s a gal with a rather singular talent. One touch of an object and she can see its owner’s past, their secrets. Turns out Evie fits right into New York, and her Uncle Will's ‘Museum of Creepy Crawlies,’ for she’s not the only one with a secret. There are others like her, and there are others who are not.
A series of grisly, ritualistic murders are shaking New York and Evie’s Uncle is called to investigate, as this is no normal case, and no normal murderer – all signs point to the murderer being... a ghost.
The 101: Spectacular, grand and dazzling, The Diviners is a Big Book, and not the kind of ‘big’ which refers to size alone. It’s a bursting with big ideas, grand scope and vision. It carries a sense of a world so much bigger than what is shown in its pages. A world growing, still adapting to industry and what the shining new future has brought, and it’s an interesting ‘future’ indeed.
It’s a future in a world on the cusp of change, a world where, for perhaps the first time, anything truly is possible. It’s this meeting, this transitional place, between old and new that allows Bray to examine a fascinating clash of theological and philosophical ideas. The Diviners’ New York is a place where ancient mysticism and modern logic meet, collide, and form shiny new hybrids and dangerous mutations. Bray examines faith, and the loss of it, theism and its opponents, occultism and Christianity and everything in-between. Bray herself remains a remarkably unobtrusive narrator, the story and its opinions belonging very much to its characters. Oh, and what characters they are.
With a large – and larger than life – cast, each of The Diviners’ (many) characters feel real, authentic, and above all, human – characters I half expected to Google along with Flo Ziegfield and Valentino – the story’s real world celebrities – and bring up hidden histories Bray hasn’t chosen to share.
While it boasts no less than a dozen point-of-view characters, some important, and some very minor, The Diviners is the story of none more than Evie O’Neill. Evie is certainly the tale’s heroine, but she’s not a heroine in the sense readers may expect. Selfish yet kind, impetuous and reckless, she is not a simple composite of the best of humanity with a few token flaws thrown in. She’s human, and her tenacity all the more delightful for it.
Joining her for the journey is her enigmatic Uncle Will, outrageous, cheeky thief, Sam, and staid, sensible Jericho, each of whom have secrets as dark as Evie’s own. In parallel to Evie’s, runs Memphis Johnson’s story, a disadvantaged youth with unique talents not so unlike Evie’s own. His and Evie’s paths dance tantalisingly close to one another, each occasionally brushing the other for the briefest of moments, before whirling off and away, never quite converging in the way I suspected they must. Whilst it never quite transpired in The Diviners, it seems fate is determined to draw these two together, but readers will have to wait ’til tome number two.
The Verdict: As sprawling and majestic as the bygone days of the city it inhabits, The Diviners is a book about the monsters in all of us: the monsters in murderers, certainly, but the monsters, too, in mothers, and in children. Filled with characters each complex, sparkling and erratic, and driven by an eerie – if not straight-up frightening – mystery, The Diviners is a masterpiece of imagination. Dazzling and seductive, just as much about its setting as its characters and secrets, this swinging, hypnotic masterpiece of a book is an extraordinary accomplishment....more
Alice in Zombieland. The name alone screams Burtonesque-Resident Evil promise. Yet readers approaching Gena Showalter’s latest Young Adult offering wiAlice in Zombieland. The name alone screams Burtonesque-Resident Evil promise. Yet readers approaching Gena Showalter’s latest Young Adult offering with such hopes will find themselves disappointed. Instead, Alice in Zombieland will appeal to fans of the likes of Twilight and Vampire Diaries, those desperate for unrequited romance, dark teen angst and dangerous secrets. Leave your expectations at the door, and climb down the rabbit hole...
The Story: Alice’s father’s always been nuts. He sees monsters—walking corpses, hungry for the living. But that’s the thing: only he sees them—until her entire family, Mum, Dad, and beloved little sister, are killed in a car accident, leaving Alice the lone survivor.
Now Alice sees them, too. And they see her.
The 101: I know, I know, I used the dreaded ‘T’ word up there, but, in truth, Alice in Zombieland is the closest I’ve come to Meyer’s progeny’s cousin. Perhaps this is the point which needs addressing first: Contrary to the promises of its name, Alice in Zombieland is not a fantastical take on the zombie apocalypse. It’s a straight up YA paranormal, heavy with the tropes of its genre: Absent parents, protagonist with previously unknown power, new school, small town? Check. Controlling, untouchable bad boy with a dark secret? And then some. Alice in Zombieland is, in fact, a compulsively readable addition to its category, but in a genre turgid with paranormal tales of angst driven romance, it does little to set itself apart.
While Alice does have much to recommend it—amongst them a fascinating, eminently creepy take on zombie lore, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters (none less than Alice’s fantastic best friend, Kat, and her sweet, funny grandparents)—it’s let down by two its most crucial players: Alice, and her love interest, Cole Holland.
Alice, whilst a fairly engaging protagonist, feels somehow spurious, her voice sounding more like an adult attempting to channel a seventeen-year-old than an authentic teenage narrative. While people seldom speak precisely what they think, there seems a disconnect between Alice’s inner vulnerability and uncertainty, and the brave, ballsy girl she projects when she speaks. Alice’s dialogue is one of the highlights of the book, her tenacity making for fabulous verbal smackdowns. She is never at a loss for the right thing to say, her words as fierce a weapons as her fists—this girl can fight–but everything admirable about Alice crumbles around one boy: Cole Holland.
Condescending, controlling, and a borderline sociopath, Cole Holland screams ‘bad boy,’ and not in a good way. He’s a deeply disturbing YA paranormal archetype, second perhaps only to Patch Cipriano of Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush ‘Saga’. Yet, while even I admit to Patch’s appeal (and the guy is a confessed attempted murderer), Cole left me cold. The connection Alice and he share is disturbingly intense, and the power gradient in their relationship unhealthily balanced. While the Alpha archetype irks me little in adult romance with a female lead who can hold her own, it leaves me profoundly uncomfortable in young adult. Nevertheless, the chemistry between Cole and Alice is palpable, and will hold strong appeal for readers looking for heady, smoking-hot romance—it certainly kept me reading.
The Verdict: Alice in Zombieland is a book with many problems, yet it’s also compulsively readable, with a teen romance boasting unparalled heat and chemistry. Paranormal readers will devour the tome, just don’t look too deep. The reading experience is kind of like making mud pies: Fun at the time, but leaves you feeling dirty.
First Thoughts: Eh. How is it that a book can be this much of a mess, yet so compulsively readable? It's a lot like watching a car wreck - I couldn't look away.
The chemistry is smoking, but I have a big problem with the love interest, Cole Holland--the unholy offspring of a messed up Edward Cullen/Patch Cipriano coupling. Controlling, condescending, and a borderline sociopath. Uh-huh. So hot.
I hate making this comparison (comparing anything to this seems lazy), but Alice in Zombieland really is the closest thing I've ever read to Twilight.
Alice in Zombieland has a LOT of problems... but I couldn't put it down. Kind of like making mud pies. Fun at the time, but leaves you feeling dirty.
Another charming, and--oh yes--romantic novella from the very talented Courtney Milan, The Governess Affair is a delight.
Historical romance is oftenAnother charming, and--oh yes--romantic novella from the very talented Courtney Milan, The Governess Affair is a delight.
Historical romance is often predictable, and The Governess Affair is not truly an exception, but Milan infuses it with her own special something that elevates it from ordinary to magical. We don't meet a proper young lady and a titled gentleman here, but a unique and singularly talented man of his own making, and a brave, strong willed young governess. In my (very) limited experience, Milan has a very special knack for writing strong willed, admirable women you can't help but get behind, and it's no less the case here. The unlikely couple are very unlikely indeed, but so, so right. I defy you not to fall in love along with them.
I love nothing more than losing myself in a bygone, fantasy England on a rainy afternoon, one where true love happens--everytime--and always saves the day. An escapist regency fairytale with an eminently satisfying happily ever after, Milan delivers again. An excellent introduction to a terrific talent....more
A tortured bad boy, a beautiful, broken girl, and scorching hot chemistry, Katie McGarry pushes all the right buttons with Pushing the Limits, packingA tortured bad boy, a beautiful, broken girl, and scorching hot chemistry, Katie McGarry pushes all the right buttons with Pushing the Limits, packing an emotional punch that will leave you reeling...
The Story: Echo Emmerson used to have it all: the perfect boyfriend, the perfect friends and the perfect brother. But now her beloved brother is dead, she hasn't seen her mother in a year, and Echo's arms are covered in terrible scars. There's a gaping black hole in Echo's memory, and she knows she can't move forward with her life until she remembers the night she lost everything. Noah Hutchinson hasn't had it all in a long time. Screwed over by the foster system, Noah wants nothing more than to get out high school, and rescue his two young brothers from the same fate he suffered: a string of abusive foster parents and a broken system that's broken him.
Noah and Echo are just trying to survive, but when Mrs Collins, the erratic and quirky psychiatrist they share explodes into their lives, they may just get more than they bargained for...
The 101: Beautiful, broken and lost, Echo, in many ways, feels like her name: a reflection of a sound, a memory of the girl she once was. And it’s a wonderful thing watching her push past her limitations, grow past her hurt and anger, and discover herself again. Noah is equally as damaged, angry, and untrusting, but is not quite the bad boy you may expect. He loves his brothers with everything he is, and at his prickliest, it’s impossible not to feel for him. As both re-learn to trust, and their secrets come unravelled, it unravels something within them, and I found it hard to resist an unravelling within me, as a reader.
Pushing the Limits isn’t about Echo and Noah discovering each other and working together to accomplish some great exciting ‘thing’ or deed, and it is certainly not a girl-and-boy meet each other and fall instantly, devastatingly in love story, either. It’s the deeper, more insular tale of two lost souls becoming whole within themselves, and being found in each other, and finding healing in themselves. There is a heartbreaking poignancy to Echo and Noah’s shared journey, and while, I pray, most readers will not have suffered the extremes this couple have, most will connect with and mourn along with them. Those who have suffered the soaring highs and devastating lows of depression, the yawning emptiness of loss, or the pain of betrayal will appreciate the delicacy with which Pushing the Limits handles these issues, and the rawness it doesn’t attempt to hide or gloss over. McGarry does not paint a simple happily-ever-after, instead showing a gradual path to forgiveness and acceptance—showing a journey, not a destination.
True loves takes hard work and compromise, and it’s a beautiful thing to see in action here. Indeed, it’s one of Pushing the Limits' most moving, affecting messages. It may not sound romantic, but when closer examined, is there anything truly more romantic than this? To love someone with everything you are, and love them so much you are willing to work and sacrifice for their happiness? This is a love story about the truth of true love. In fact, Jennifer Echols blurbed the book and puts perfectly: “McGarry details the sexy highs, the devastating lows and the real work it takes to build true love.”
But for all this talk of love and growth and healing—magnificent things—Pushing the Limits offers more: A cast of characters in shades of grey, some I loved, such as Echo and Noah’s shared counsellor, Ms Collins, and others I really wanted to hate, like Echo’s former friends. They add a depth to the world, and give the reader some perspective, showing our leads are not infallible, and not always right.
The Verdict: Pushing the Limits is incredibly moving, packing a big emotional punch, but it’s not all weepy tear jerker moments: there’s friendship, a puzzling backstory, and a romantic chemistry so intense the book warrants one of those coffee cup warning labels: ‘CAUTION. Contents are HOT.’ A moving tale of loss, healing and love, McGarry delivers a masterful debut....more
Supernatural fan? No, not the TV show—the fuzzy and fanged kind. You’re in for a treat—Deadly Hemlock, or simply 'Hemlock' as Americans will4.5 stars
Supernatural fan? No, not the TV show—the fuzzy and fanged kind. You’re in for a treat—Deadly Hemlock, or simply 'Hemlock' as Americans will know it, may just be the best you read this year. Kathleen Peacock offers it all: The paranormal, a spine-chilling murder-mystery and the kind of romance that makes your heart skip a beat. Been there, done that? Yes, but Peacock does it well.
The Story In an America shaken by the discovery that werewolves do, in fact, exist, there is a political war taking place. Those infected with Lupine Syndrome have no civil rights. At the first sign of infection, they are required to register, and are promptly shipped off to government-run concentration camps. Fear and suspicion run just beneath the surface, and when a police-backed neo-Nazi-turned-werewolf-hunter organisation, 'the Trackers', arrive in the town of Hemlock, things turn truly ugly.
It’s the arrival of the Trackers that prove a catalyst for change. Mac has tried to move on since her best friend was murdered by a werewolf, but as the violent werewolf-hunters arrive in town to investigate a new death, Mac’s world falls apart all over again. Innately distrustful of Trackers, and haunted by the ghost of her dead friend—though whether Amy is truly a spirit, or a mental projection is left delightfully ambiguous—Mac decides to takes matters into her own hands and find the killer. What she finds instead is a complicated web of lies, political power-games and secrets.
My Thoughts Determined to uncover the truth of her best friends’ brutal death, and force the Trackers to leave town, our heroine, Mac, is a truly fascinating lead. Peacock achieves a faultless balance between physical limitation and keen intelligence. Mac certainly gets herself in too deep, but she’s not your typical damsel in distress. Able to hotwire a car and jimmy a lock since she was a pre-teen, she’s resilient and resourceful, stubborn and fiercely protective of those she loves. And she does love: It would be amiss of me to continue without touching on the bittersweet, slow-burn romance that develops between Mac and one of her closest friends: There’s earnestness and realism to the relationship and it’s a delight watching something grow from a very real and genuine friendship.
And it’s not just the friendships and romance that are such a delight. There’s a rich world of characters in Hemlock. From friends and family to acquaintances and colleagues, the extensive cast is never confusing, but adds layers of depth to Mac’s world. But where Deadly Hemlock truly shines is its depth of world building and attention to the bigger picture. Using the small town of Hemlock as a paradigm, Peacock presents a country being overtaken by fear, paranoia and hatred. She examines bigotry, human nature and radicalism in a way one would expect to find in a dystopian fantasy, not a sleepy-town paranormal. A government bending to the will of extremist voices, the media spreading fear faster the Lupine virus itself, and knee-jerk political reactions all feel eerily familiar, and add to Deadly Hemlock’s pervasive sense of unrest and unease. There's a bleakness and hopelessness to Mac’s story at times, but it's unsurprising in a story dealing with grief and death, and the loss of young, promising life. What are surprising are the pop-culture references, from music to film, and, as Peacock herself shares, literature, spattering its pages and adding moments of delightful humour.
The wonderful characters, the frightening politics, all lead to the heart of Deadly Hemlock: the puzzle of Amy’s murder. It’s rare to find such a tense, tightly plotted mystery, yet Peacock kept me guessing with ‘whos’ and ‘whys’ never quite falling into place till the breathless, heartbreaking end.
The Verdict Kathleen Peacock’s debut is a remarkable creature indeed. With an extraordinary depth of world building, she brings something exciting and new to her genre. Filled with dangerous secrets and vicious lies, every inch of the town of Hemlock feels real and comes alive, creating a depth that elevates Deadly Hemlock beyond simple supernatural love-story to something richer, vaster and rendering it utterly engrossing. Paranormal fans, rejoice! Chilling, riveting, and beautifully imagined, Deadly Hemlock is an unmissable debut. ...more
Philippa Gregory's first venture into the Young Adult market was sure to garner attention. And surely enough, here we have Changeling, her first fullyPhilippa Gregory's first venture into the Young Adult market was sure to garner attention. And surely enough, here we have Changeling, her first fully speculative novel, and her first aimed at Young Adults. Is it everything one would hope for and expect? Well, that depends on your expectations...
The Story Seventeen year old Luca has been cast out of his monastary, accused of heresy. Alone in a cell, he awaits what he believes is his death. Instead, he is offered a second chance: use his brilliant analytical mind to debunk conspiracies, separate folklore and myth from the work of true evil. Become an Inquisitor for the Catholic Church. He takes it.
Meanwhile, beautiful, headstrong and wise seventeen year old Isolde mourns her father. Raised to inherit his lands and castle, she is horrified to learn his will betrays her: she is left with nothing. She may choose to marry a repulsive, abusive prince with little dowry, or take a vow of celibacy as a nun.
Months later, young Inquisitor Luca Vero travels to a nunnery plagued by whispers of stigmata, visions, possession, and its young mistress, a beautiful young girl named Isolde, is a key suspect. Unable to control events in the abbey, the two are thrown together into a web of mystery, intrigue and mistrust... which may just be the start of something no-one ever expected...
My Thoughts Changeling is a difficult book to profile. Neither fast nor slow paced, it instead plods along, hopping from steady and measured to nail biting tension from one page to the next. Its various mysteries are cryptic and engaging, but most importantly, well developed. The most wicked of characters are still nasty and pernicious, but believable, with enough back story to lend their actions authenticity.
Despite its well-developed mysteries, Changeling is a short book, weighing in at only two-hundred and fifty pages, and it’s characterisation that seems to suffer the most from its length. With constant mid-scene head hopping between five point of view characters, there simply isn’t enough time develop each beyond the surface, or at the very least, for the reader to connect with them. Interestingly enough, it is not the titular 'changeling', Luca, or heroine, Isolde, that are the best explored, or indeed, likable, of the story at all. Supporting characters such as Frieze—kitchenhand-turned-personal-servant to Luca—and Isolde's constant companion, the beautiful, mysterious and deadly Ishraq, that are the story's most compelling.
Gregory deserves praise for her richly developed world, its settings growing deeper, more engaging and immersive at the story progresses. From lush woods, to sleepy village idylls hiding a pervasive undercurrent of fear and nunneries with walls whispering ominous secrets, Gregory writes of medieval Europe, its superstitions and fears as if she were there. But it’s this beautiful world that suffers the most from the novel’s faults. While Gregory is certainly a fine storyteller, weaving a compelling tale, rich with an extraordinary wealth of detail and research, Changeling’s prose is at times pedestrian, turgid with description, diluting the impact of a world already beautifully imagined.
Changeling's anachronistic language grated at times, for it is neither fully modern speech, nor a true approximation of Middle English. But this is minor bugbear, and the various characters’ interactions are the book's most engaging moments. Inversely, a novel rife with entirely modern or old English would receive its fair share of criticism, but a simile involving reference to a hand gun on the book’s first page felt out of place, even though such things do in fact fit (narrowly) within the story’s timeline.
The Verdict: While certainly not a perfect book, Changeling has much to offer. From intriguing mystery, to a gorgeous medieval Europe that charmed and thrilled, Gregory’s young adult debut is unlike any other in the category I’ve read. While not the most satisfying story in and of itself, this middle-ages Scooby Gang tale is a perfect series setup, and one which will leave those readers charmed by its pages hungry for more.
Part The Bachelor, part Next Top Model, but mainly Disney princess fairytale, The Selection delivers what it’s gorgeous cover offers: beautiful girls,Part The Bachelor, part Next Top Model, but mainly Disney princess fairytale, The Selection delivers what it’s gorgeous cover offers: beautiful girls, beautiful dresses, and let’s not forget one very charming Prince Charming.
The Verdict: Poor, but very pretty, seventeen year old America Singer is chosen by 'lottery' to be one of thirty-five 'lucky' contestants to compete for Crown Prince Maxon's heart. Problem number one: America heart already belongs to her forbidden love—the gorgeous, penniless Aspen Leger. Problem number two: America is not the least bit interested in a stuffy, boring prince. But it was Aspen himself who forced her to enter the lottery, for the chance of a better life, and Aspen who broke her heart and his promises. She soon discovers stuffy and boring are what the prince is not. Swept up in a world of gorgeous dresses, fierce competition and a side of her world America never knew existed, she begins to realise this may just be a life worth fighting for...
My Thoughts Say what you will about The Selection, it’s nothing if not compulsively readable. While Cass doesn’t boast the most elegant of prose, her bubbly, light tone, and America’s easy manners are instant draw cards. Silly names aside, America is likeable and sweet, if not a little naive at times. In a world where strict social classes dictate what and who you can be the rest of your life—right down to your career path—America, born into a lower middle-class family of struggling artists, has known hunger and want and need, yet she's an essentially optimistic person, and rather than aggravating, it’s contagious. It’s hard not to root for this girl. But it’s this rigid caste system that may be one of The Selection’s biggest stumbling points with readers. Sound dystopian, right? Here’s the thing: It’s not. As other reviewers have commented, it would best be described as 'light dystopian', if at all.
Set in a post World War IV North America, the United States of the past has crumbled. But the current government is not unfair, or oppressive. In fact, the royal family are fair and friendly, if not a little aloof. Readers expecting an exciting dystopian thriller will be disappointed; abandoning expectations is key. The world of The Selection is still compelling and richly imagined, but far closer to a pre-democratic monarchy England than The Hunger Games. Think peasants, commoners, gentry, and ruling class, transported into a (marginally) fairer modern world. Action packed The Selection is not, but there is intrigue hidden just beneath its pretty, polished surface. While it is only hinted at, it is clear this will be explored in future installments.
OK, that’s the serious out of the way. Let’s move on to the meat of the story: the romance. The Selection presents us with two suitors... and thirty-five competitors. Leaving her home with a broken heart, America meets Prince Maxon, the man for whose affections she’s meant to compete; the man she’s already determined to dislike. Imagine that, when she discovers he’s a halfway decent bloke. Surprisingly kind, fair, and thoughtful, a friendship develops between America and Prince Maxon, and slowly, a tentative romance blossoms. The Selection not only presents a love triangle, and encourages team debate, it revels in it. But it’s doubtful many readers will fall for America’s first love, the selfless, intense and gorgeous Aspen, and it’s not merely because his competition is a Prince. As America’s finds room in her heart for Maxon, it’s difficult not to fall prey to his charms. Never smarmy, or ‘charming’, Maxon is unequivocally, well, good.
The Verdict: Precisely like the serial television of which it is born, The Selection is easily digestible; the kind of book that’s easy to pick up and devour in a single, breathless sitting. Don't let the reality TV show comparisons put you off, though: The Selection, while light, has heart—not to mention a lack of bitchiness—these insipid shows lack. But it’s also book which will delight or disappoint depending on expectations. Is it truly dystopian? Not really. Is it as intense as the cover suggests? No. What it is, is simple: light, fun, compelling and compulsively readable. ...more
Two words: Chainsaw Katana. Add mechanical samurai, flying warships, and ask yourself: what else could a book possibly need? Yet Jay Kristoff’s debutTwo words: Chainsaw Katana. Add mechanical samurai, flying warships, and ask yourself: what else could a book possibly need? Yet Jay Kristoff’s debut isn’t content with its clockwork wonders and mythical beasts alone. Stormdancer straddles genres, steampunk and Shinto fantasy combining with a passionate message for one of the most thematically rich releases of the year.
The Story: Brave, angry and wild, we meet Yukiko in the suffocating, toxic streets of Kigen City. Polluted by the poisonous exhaust of the Shima Empire’s mechanical advancement, the country is dying. Famine, poverty and Black Lung grip the nation’s working poor. Yukiko is somewhat privileged, the daughter of the Shogun’s Master Hunter, the Black Fox, Masaru, though with most animal and plant life near extinct beneath the blanket of choking smog, why the Shogun needs a master hunter is questionable. Until the impossible happens.
An Arashitora—part eagle, part tiger, thought extinct—is spotted, and Shogun Yoritomo will have it as his prize at any cost. Journeying with her father to hunt the legendary thunder tiger, Yukiko knows their lives are forfeit if they return to Yoritomo without the beast.
They find the thunder tiger, alright. But when things go terribly wrong, Yukiko is left stranded is the empire’s last surviving wilderness with the furious, crippled beast. A beast who thinks and reasons like her. A beast with a soul and a mind that may just change hers forever, and change the destiny of the entire country.
The 101: With constantly shifting point of view and a vast cast of characters, Stormdancer is a tale of many things, and many people, but of none more than Yukiko and Buruu. Yukiko is angry and orphaned for all but her father, who wastes his days and coin in gambling dens, lost in an opium haze. But in a world dying and oppressed by corrupt government and religious zealots, Yukiko has a weapon: empathy—in more ways than one. She’s a splendid character, able to see and care for the suffering around her.
Her weakness is perhaps a lack of resolve, or, if not the will to take action, the way. Enter Buruu. Pure animalistic instinct, resolve, action and fury, Buruu completes Yukiko. His fire combines with Yukiko’s compassion, and the two both grow, Buruu learning reason and restraint, Yukiko learning freedom, and to fight for it.
"Our troubles are but mayflies, rising and falling between the turn of dawn and dusk. And then they are gone to the houses of memory, you and I will remain, Yukiko."
The real magic of Stormdancer lies in the bond shared by Buruu and Yukiko. Far beyond simple friendship, stronger than blood, and deeper than the most passionate romance, the connection that grows and blossoms between Thunder Tiger and ‘Monkey Child’ is the stuff of legend. As hatred shifts to grudging tolerance, then cautious acceptance, to something indelible and profound, both change and grow into something more. The pair cease to be two, becoming one in a magnificent, awe-inspiring way, the joining of their minds proving a breathtaking, pivotal moment in the book.
Dancing around behind the pair is a vast, rich world, filled with powerful players and pawns, corruption and beauty, and rebellion. Shima is a world poisoned, choking on the refuse of its own mechanical revolution, and with Stormdancer, Kristoff makes a bold statement on the cost of industry and advancement, examining the true price of power, leading to gruesome, grizzly, and deeply disturbing discoveries.
"Your kind are blind. You see only the now. Never the will be."
But magic, mechanics, and madness aside, Stormdancer is also a tale of family, in all its forms. What is family, really? A crumbling connection of lies and blood between father and daughter? Sacrifice for a beloved child? Manipulations between brother and sister? The deepest, most profound message of Stormdancer is perhaps the one of family we make for ourselves—of bonds deeper than blood, those of love and devotion and sacrifice despite differences.
But it is worth noting that—perhaps like all worthy, great, things in life—Stormdancer is not always easy to read. Kristoff loves words—and with a demonstrated mastery, so he rightly should—but lengthy, detailed descriptions and wordy imagery do make for a slow start. Do not be discouraged. Persevere, and you shall be richly rewarded.
"Each of you must decide where you stand. All we ask is that you refuse to kneel. You are the people. You have the power. Open your eyes. Open your minds. Then close the fingers on your hand."
The Verdict: A sweeping, thrilling epic, Stormdancer is magnificent. Kristoff’s Japanese-steampunk-fantasy masterpiece is both a splendid celebration of family and friendship and a scathing allegory for corruption, and the grey-area ethics of technological advancement and its environment impact. Call it grown-up, call it YA, Stormdancer is category crossover with a profound tale of friendship, love, and truth that will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages....more
Read for Laini Taylor's story, and Richelle Mead's. I was not dissapointed. Plenty of high notes, a few OK, a couple of stories were forgettable but *Read for Laini Taylor's story, and Richelle Mead's. I was not dissapointed. Plenty of high notes, a few OK, a couple of stories were forgettable but *shrugs*
Is there something in the water in England? Or is it simply the obvious—that English is their language? Well, another Brit’s at it and, ladie4.5 stars
Is there something in the water in England? Or is it simply the obvious—that English is their language? Well, another Brit’s at it and, ladies and gentlemen, Teri Terry is a terrific writer. Tense, oppressive and—frankly—brilliant, Slated is a shining jewel of an addition to its genre.
The Story: Kyla Davis is no-one. She has been Slated. Her memories, her past, her life erased; her synapses rewired, and her mind wiped blank.
Sent to live with a new mum and dad—not that she would know the ‘old’ ones from a bar of soap—Kyla tries to fit in, to make sure the monitor on her wrist shows her emotions stay level, to be balanced, and a functional, integrated member of society. But Kyla is not like other Slated teens... Kyla asks questions she should not, thinks things Slateds should not be able to… but worst of all, Kyla seems to have ghosts of memories, terrifying nightmares that couldn’t actually be real, could they?
Slating is meant to be a second chance—a clean slate for criminal teens. But when you don't even know yourself, who can you trust? As terrifying truths about her world, and about slating become clear, Kyla begins to question everything she’s known in her short second life...
My Thoughts: Fluidly moving from Kyla’s easy, flowing narrative to fast-paced, frantic stream-of consciousness, Terry delivers a protagonist with a truly unique voice. Kyla is fascinating, clever, she questions everything, and she’s a keen observer. While in many ways she’s adult and intelligent, in others, she is almost childlike, seeing the world for the first time, allowing the reader to learn it along with her. Slateds must re-learn to walk, to talk. They are completely unaware of the dangers in their world, that knives are sharp, fire burns. Having been slated, Kyla is a blank slate. She has no memories of her past, of who she is—or should have no memories—but she does have a distinct personality.
A palpable sense of foreboding permeates Slated’s pages, a feeling of menace very much like Orwell’s totalitarian England—and Big Brother is watching. As Kyla navigates her new world, she takes the reader with her, uncertainty painting everything grey and shadowy, and it is never clear who to trust. A teacher? A friend? Perhaps a parent? A wrong word to the right person, or a sign of dissent, and people disappear. Missing adults, friends, children. Slating is meant for criminals, for terrorists… but can a government with this kind of power be trusted? Herein lays the brilliance of Terry’s construct: the cold, terrifying reality is that Slating is a draconian government’s ultimate weapon. Opposition can’t very well speak up when their voices and memories are stolen. Even an imprisoned terrorist has a voice. Slating is something far more sinister.
Slated is not an action-oriented thriller in the ilk of The Hunger Games. It’s not a tale of explosions, or edge-of-seat live-or-die exploits. This is a more underhanded, sly, pervasive threat and menace. Dystopian fiction is at its most effective and frightening when presenting a reality that is conceivable, and believable. This type of novel hinges not only on its audience's ability to believe such a thing could come to pass, but—just as Orwell did in 1984—plays on the innate fear that it is already happening, already here, that this is a future we could very well face if we do not take a good, hard look at ourselves. Terry presents a world terrifyingly close to our own, one that is halfway here, and it seems she is challenging her readers to not only think as they read Slated, to discover it, and Kyla’s, secrets, but to question what they know, contemplate the value of their basic civil liberties, and what ‘self’ truly means.
Political statements and brilliance aside, some of Slated’s most compelling facets are its human ones. From tender to terrifying, sweet to infuriatingly unfair, Kyla’s interactions with the world and people around her are what give it heart. Kyla’s relationship with her ‘Mum’ is touching, and fascinating to watch grow, and those with her Doctor and teachers are worrisome and murky. But it is Kyla’s developing attachment to fellow slated boy, Ben, which has the biggest impact on her, and indeed sets many of Slated’s events in place. Slated is certainly not a romance—though its moments of tenderness are heart-warming—and if anything, Kyla’s most important relationship is the hugely complicated one she has with herself.
The Verdict: Slated combines the feeling of Orwellian oppression and corruption with something new: the teenage experience. That sense of powerlessness; a sense, not of invincibility, but of hope, not yet tempered or tainted by defeat. There are moments in its pages that are crushingly bleak, and others brimming with hope; but the most ubiquitous feeling of all is that of overwhelming injustice and corruption. Chilling, confronting, and un-put-downably good, Slated will leave you thinking long after its final pages are turned... and howling for more....more
A quick, riveting prequel to Brigid Kemmerer's action-packed Elemental series, FEARLESS will do nothing to sate fans hunger for more. It is, however,A quick, riveting prequel to Brigid Kemmerer's action-packed Elemental series, FEARLESS will do nothing to sate fans hunger for more. It is, however, an unmissable addition, offering teasing hints of one of the series most enduring riddles: Hunter Garrity.
Throughout Storm and Spark, Hunter has proven himself a mystery: his actions and motivations are often hard to pin down, and he's a man of many secrets and questions, but no definite answers. If Fearless is a small peek at what readers can expect from his forthcoming story, SPIRIT, there's definitely reason to get excited.
Set approximately a year before the events of Storm, we meet sixteen-year old Hunter. Young, unsettled, and with a certain innocence he's since been robbed of. Hunter's dad and uncle are still alive. His family is whole. And he's still angry.
A sense of inevitability hangs over Fearless, lending it a heartbreaking sense of foreboding. Fans will know what awaits Hunter in his future, but this is not the story of how Hunter's life was torn apart; rather a glimpse at how he was molded into the character we know. Once again, Brigid paints an unflinching picture of the realities of bullying, hatred and abuse, and while we don't see the same depth a full-length novel allows, she accomplishes a great deal in only 44 pages. Brigid possesses an extraordinary gift for characterization, and it shines like a beacon through Hunter and Clare, and Hunter's family.
This quick, electrifying read is best-suited to those who have already read Storm, and will provide much anticipated answers, while creating still more questions. Fast-paced, intense, and surprisingly moving, Fearless is a must-read that will leaves fans desperate for more....more
If the words ‘Science Fiction’ make you want to run for the hills, it’s time to reconsider*. Unravelling is certainly sci-fi, but it’s not wh4.5 stars
If the words ‘Science Fiction’ make you want to run for the hills, it’s time to reconsider*. Unravelling is certainly sci-fi, but it’s not what you’re expecting: this is no lycra-covered space opera, but thrilling mystery, heart-stopping action and a heroine with enough snark and savvy to give Veronica Mars a run for her money. If you’re running anywhere, let it be to the bookstore. You need this book.
The Story: With a largely absent—but painfully wonderful—FBI agent father, a bipolar mother, and a kid brother who doesn’t get fed if his sister’s not around, Janelle Tenner’s had to grow up fast. Too bad no amount of ‘grown up’ helps when you find yourself dead by the side of the road, hit by a speeding truck. But when Janelle wakes up, she’s sure of two things: that she absolutely, positively was dead, and that Ben Michaels—the stoner bad-boy she’s known most her life, but never even spoken to—brought her back.
Janelle’s not-quite-death raises a series of impossible questions that cannot go unanswered, the least of which being that the driver who killed her doesn’t exist. So who is Ben Michaels? Who killed her? And how is all this tied up in her father’s FBI investigation—one involving the appearance of horrifically burned, melting bodies, and a countdown that will stop in twenty five days? But the most important questions is: a countdown to what?
The 101: Janelle’s slightly more than ‘near’-death experience changes everything for her: Given a second chance at life, she refuses to waste it, and it renders Janelle a very interesting character indeed. Faced with the crushing, the impossible and the heartbreaking , she approaches everything as an opportunity. Janelle’s smart, tenacious, sarcastic and badass, but most of all, she is completely irrepressible, and it makes for a truly fantastic heroine.
From her loyal, hilarious best friend, Alex, to her geeky, sci-fi obsessed dad and his FBI super-hero sidekick, Struz, its rich cast of characters are one of Unravelling’s highlights, and also allow for a very unique story to be told. One girl saving the world would seem inconceivable, if it were not for the people Janelle's surrounded with. How many seventeen year olds do you know with access to top secret FBI case files, guns, and crime scenes? Unravelling’s tightly plotted, impossible mysteries and edge-of-your-seat action are tense and breathtaking, rich with both thrilling and heartbreaking outcomes.
And then there’s the romance. The chemistry Janelle shares with Ben Michaels, the boy who may just have brought her back from the dead, is electric. From glancing touches to deep, bone-melting kisses, the heat is undeniable. But, as you might expect from a boy with the powers of resurrection, this is not smooth sailing, and Ben may be the key to unlocking some alarming secrets—and saving the world. There is little more that can be said without betraying some extraordinary mysteries, but Ben and his friends, Janelle’s accident, the FBI, the gruesomely deformed bodies inexplicably appearing across the city, and the countdown that numbers Unravelling’s chapters are all inextricably linked, drawn together in a twisted, precarious danse macabre.
The Verdict: Slick, sexy, and action-packed, Unravelling is the literary lovechild of a Fringe and Veronica Mars pairing. Its unstoppable smart-mouthed heroine is the perfect match to end-of-the-world high-stakes, and its extraordinary sci-fi-leaning mysteries make for an electrifying debut. There’s only one problem with Unravelling, and that’s the twelve month wait for the sequel.
* No, seriously: IT’S TIME TO RE-CONSIDER. You’re talking to a card-carrying Browncoat, Whovian, wannabee Jedi-Knight who went to Star Trek conventions as a kid. Watch yo’ self....more
Sweet, flirty, and unashamedly fun, Of Poseidon is bringing back mermaids. Angst? Nope. These teenage supernaturals eat fish, not blood, and no-one heSweet, flirty, and unashamedly fun, Of Poseidon is bringing back mermaids. Angst? Nope. These teenage supernaturals eat fish, not blood, and no-one here is sprouting hair and claws. Fins, though? Well that’s a different story...
The Story: When Galen, a Syrena (read: merman) prince watches a human girl single-handedly fight off a shark, and win, he knows she’s not what she seems. Perhaps not human at all. After all, the Syrena themselves can pass as human—growing legs, breathing air, and walking on land. But this is news to Emma, who thinks she’s as human as you and I. As is why, the albeit gorgeous, Galen, suddenly turns up at her school and won’t leave her alone. As the two fight a growing attraction, they must work together to uncover the mystery of Emma’s heritage, because while Galen cannot have Emma for his own, her rather singular gifts may just be the key to saving his kingdom.
My Thoughts: Though it may seem strange calling a book which opens with the bloody death of a girl 'light', it’s precisely what Of Poseidon is. Jumping from death-by-shark-mauling to fun and playful, Of Poseidon never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously, and it frees Banks up to tell precisely the right story: a fun, effervescent romp offering laughs and romance in generous, decadent serves.
Emma, Galen, and Of Poseidon's cast of friends and family are fun, quirky, and compulsively readable. Emma’s chatty, funny and slightly neurotic first-person is a delight, and there’s a certain amusing naivety to Galen’s third person. His unfamiliarity with the human world and occasional bewilderment at Emma offer countless comic opportunities, and despite Emma’s description of Galen’s classic ‘Type A’ personality, he is not without a sense of humour about himself, allowing for playful, teasing banter between the couple. The split point of views work to excellent effect, not only lending greater depth in the book’s two leads, but to the world, and its delightful array of supporting characters who, rather than simply being ‘supporting’ characters are fleshed out, and as charming and entertaining as its leads.
The mystery of Emma’s Syrena heritage—do not call them mermaids, folks, especially not the guys—plays out over the book, and is the plot’s driving force, but Of Poseidon is all about the romance. And it’s fun. The chemistry between Emma and Galen is electric, sexy and intense, and when they’re not sharing a sweet, heart stopping moment—we’re talking girl meets boy, boy takes girl on date... to the Titanic—they’re bickering, or needling each other with charming, hilarious intensity.
The Verdict: In a world of vampires, werewolves, and things that go bump in the night, Of Poseidon brings something new, fun and funny to the table. Sharing a sensibility far more in common with Disney’s Ariel and Eric than Rose and Dimitri, it proves different doesn’t mean less. There’s a playful quality to Banks’ storytelling, giving Of Poseidon a refreshingly light, fun tone, while never lacking in substance. Banks doesn't miss the opportunity to make pointed barbs at overfishing and and environmental negligence, but she never comes across as preachy. Flirty, teasing, and enormously entertaining, Of Poseidon brings exactly what it promises: good, beachy fun, romance, and delicious deep-sea mysteries. But be prepared: this book will leave you screaming for more.
There’s no denying Brigid Kemmerer took the blogosphere by, well, ’storm’ earlier this year with her debut novel, so it comes as little surprise her sThere’s no denying Brigid Kemmerer took the blogosphere by, well, ’storm’ earlier this year with her debut novel, so it comes as little surprise her sophomore release, Spark, is just as incendiary. So, now I’m satisfied it’s not possible to include any additional puns in this paragraph, let’s talk about what makes Spark so damn good.
The Story: It's never been more dangerous to be an Elemental. 'Gifted' with the ability to control fire, Gabriel Merrick is explosive as his element, and after recent attacks on his family by 'Guides'—the body that governs elementals, and executes full-blooded ones like Gabriel and his three brothers—it feels like his ability to hold it together is more tenuous than ever. The fact that he’s failing his classes and has been caught out for cheating is just one more step towards breaking, not to mention the recent spate of torched homes, and that the fire department seems to think he's a suspect.
Then along comes Layne. A quiet, shy, brainiac, Gabriel’s sat next to her in calculus for ages, but it’s only now that he notices her. Well, Layne’s sure noticed him, and as she helps him with his study, the two can’t deny the chemistry they share. While Layne has dark, painful secrets of her own, Gabriel’s may just get them both killed...
My Thoughts: Picking up where Stormleft off, Brigid wastes no time jumping straight into the action. The familiar rhythm of her prose returns, as does her razor sharp dialogue and humour. But rather than Storm’s narrators, Chris Merrick and Becca Chandler, Spark introduces readers to two new protagonists: a shy, brainy woman named Layne, and someone they already know: Gabriel Merrick.
It’s more dangerous than ever to be an Elemental, but Gabriel Merrick has a knack for playing with fire. It’s Gabriel who proves Spark's’s biggest surprise. An easy fan-favourite in Storm, despite his initially callous treatment of its protagonist, Gabriel is very different to the abrasive, cocky jock readers may think they already know. There is a lot more to Gabriel Merrick than meets the eye, and indeed more than he himself may recognise. The jock façade is hiding a raging inferno of pain, self-doubt and loneliness. In many ways, it’s these qualities that connect him with Layne, as well as building a difficult roadblock to what develops between them.
Layne, like Gabriel, hides a past of secrets and hurt, but while she is quiet and shy, she is certainly not meek. Layne has an inner-core of steel and a quiet strength, but she is not perfect—far from it. While she is selfless with those she loves, she is prone to defensiveness, slow to trust and cagey, but it only serves to render her more relateable and sympathetic.
In Storm, Brigid demonstrated an extraordinary talent for building a world and populating it with characters who felt real. From her pitch-perfect Merrick brothers, to the damaged but sweet Becca, there is an authenticity to her characters, and their stories, and it is no less present in Spark. Again, Brigid takes a cold hard look at bullying in its many forms, and at the helpless fury and hopelessness it creates in its victims. She examines pain, grief and isolation, but never in a melodramatic or overwrought fashion. Allowing actions to speak for themselves, Kemmerer presents a world with life how it is: beautiful and ugly, just and unfair, filled with terrible wrongs and rights. Gabriel and Layne are not perfect, nor are those they love, but they are human and eminently likable characters. Even at their darkest moments, they elicit undeniable empathy at the tip of Kemmerer’s pen. And that’s not even mentioning what else they elicit in their thrilling, sizzling-hot scenes together. The chemistry the couple share is electrifying, and readers looking for even more heat from a book filled with fires will be far from dissapointed.
As in Storm, at the heart of Spark are the Merrick brothers. But recent events have left raw nerves and short tempers, and we see a more combustible side to the family, as well as deepening bonds between the growing cast of secondary characters. Readers of Storm would have seen identical twins Nick and Gabriel as two halves of a whole, and there’s a palpable aching as a rift drives them apart in Spark.
While it would be easy for Kemmerer to have written a book purely focused on and driven by the paranormal, she never takes this path, and it’s one of her Elemental series’ greatest strengths: Brigid does not write about the supernatural, she writes about, people. Paranormal abilities do not serve to make her players more magnetic or romantic; rather, they are challenges. She does not romanticise great power, but examines its cost, its responsibilities. Indeed, the Elemental series reads less like teen-vampire dramas, and more like gritty contemporaries.
The Verdict: Readers who fell in love with Storm with be thrilled by this explosive sequel. Spark delivers on all fronts: action, a sizzling-hot romance, and yes, hot boys are all there, but there is more. Spark, like Storm, has heart. It has a human sensibility to its supernatural elements, and it is these, perfectly balanced with riveting story and flawless pacing that combine to make another compulsively readable offering from its talented author. Brigid Kemmerer delivers again: big time....more