This is actually more of a 3.5 read but gets that bonus half star because of the use of the photographs.
It's a very inventive and unique tale and I a...moreThis is actually more of a 3.5 read but gets that bonus half star because of the use of the photographs.
It's a very inventive and unique tale and I am excited to read the sequel, but ultimately I didn't feel all that invested in any of the characters. Except strangely Jacob's father, who I sincerely hope finishes his bird book. (less)
I gave it a fair shot. I was listening to the audio and was about 4 hours in. That's just over a third....moreI hate doing this, but I'm marking this one DNF
I gave it a fair shot. I was listening to the audio and was about 4 hours in. That's just over a third.
Here's my reasons:
1) Ridiculously slow pacing. I'm a third in. Something should have happened by now, even if its just the idea of what's too come. 2) The Women - The women in this book are ridiculous. They have no substance, no value. They are completely defined by their performance in bed. He says he loved his wife but other than how good she was in bed, I have yet to hear what it is he loved about her. 3) Sex for the sake of sex. - I don't care if there is sex in novels. People have sex. It's normal. However, Sex for the sake of sex, when it isn't actually necessary, or is drawn out, is no better than violence for the sake of violence. It's a cheap tactic to get people to be shocked by your book. It's like watching a slasher film. Yeah sure it's fun sometimes, but no one will take it seriously. For something that is described as "literary" is reads an awful lot like erotica. 4) Jake - Jake annoys the hell out of me. I can't put my finger on it exactly but I just can't connect with him. Characters (to me) are the most important aspect of the book so I find this lack of connection disappointing.
Finally I will say this, double points to Glenn Duncan for the amount of different ways he's come up with to say testicles - balls, plums, gonads, I heard them all in my 4 hours on the Last Werewolf. *rolls eyes*
Maybe I'll try this again one day in print, but at the moment it seems highly unlikely. (less)
Emily finally knows what it's like to be in love. Unfortunately for her she's in love with Zach, her best friend, Gabby''s, boyfriend. And now Gabby is going away for Christmas break, leaving Emily and Zach all alone. The temptation is too great to resist.
They're not the only one's succumbing to temptation. Chase has done something really terrible. A really cruel trick, which he justified as payback. Neither Chase and Emily could have ever imagined the real repercussion of their actions but their actions have been noticed. Three mysterious and beautiful girls have set their eyes on Chase and Emily and it's only a matter of time before their punishment is delivered.
Fury is based on a really interesting premise. That there's a set of mythical beings going around determining that people should be punished for their actions. In a lot of ways I can see the attraction. We've all been hurt/betrayed by someone and we've all wished that they could know how it feels. It seems from a lot of reviews I've already read that I'm not the only one who see's this appeal. A lot of people like the Furies (the three mysterious girls). Though I understood this admiration (for lack of a better word) I am not one of those people. I, in no way, condone Emily and Chase's behaviour but they don't live in isolation, does their actions mean the innocent people in their lives should also suffer? What about their friends and family members? Why should they be punished?
But anyways I digress. Regardless of whether you side with the Furies or not this book is fast paced and intriguing. It draws you in. I started reading it at 10 pm and stayed up all night finishing it. I was dying to know what happened and what nasty tricks the Furies had up their sleeves. In addition the setting of this book was absolutely perfect! Middle of winter, often at night – it was very much like the Furies, dangerous, harsh and unforgiving. There were times the vivid descriptions of the snow and ice would make me shiver and pity the poor people stuck in the middle of it.
Your Fury experience will be a matter of perspective. You may love the Furies or you may pity Chase and Emily. The beauty of this book is that it can go either way. No matter which side you fall on you'll still enjoy the story. This is a great debut from Elizabeth Miles and I can't wait to find out what happens next!(less)
One of the really challenging things about putting together YA Pride is finding more than just co...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
One of the really challenging things about putting together YA Pride is finding more than just contemporary titles to feature. Thankfully there are amazing books like Witch Eyes! A paranormal tale with a great mystery and a pair of star crossed lovers.
Witch Eyes is primarily the story of one, young, witch named Braden. First of all can I say how much I love that this book didn’t stray into the whole “witches are girls, warlocks/wizards are boys” because seriously do we really need to gender witches? But anyways, back to Braden. Braden has lived a secluded with his uncle, but he has questions. Lots of questions that his uncle just can’t answer. So he returns to his family’s home in Belle Dam to find some answers.
I loved Braden. I loved his personality. He was strong, and stubborn and hilariously sarcastic. I think Braden and I would be great friends. I also loved that he’s continuously asking why. I can instantly relate to a character who is never happy with the status quo. And even though he gets scared like a normal person he still barrels in head first when things need to be done. He learns new things, asks tough questions and at times even puts himself in the line of fire. Overall, I found him an admirable and interesting character and I really enjoyed reading about them.
I was also blown away by the way Scott Tracey described the magical moments in this book. Primarily when Braden takes off his glasses and observes the world around him with his witch eyes. Gorgeous writing! Poetry really. It’s a really unique style and magic system. I wish it had been explained a little bit more, because I have a lot of questions about the mechanics. But it is the first book in a series so I’m hoping there’s more explanations to come.
I’m still a little unsold on the love story element. In Belle Dam there are two competing families. The Lansings and the Thorpes. Braden is the son of Jason Thorpe, and unfortunately for him he falls for a boy named Trey – the son of Catherine Lansing. It’s sort of a Romeo and Romeo story. I did find myself rooting for Trey and Braden but I’m not 100% pro-Trey in general. I found him a little short sighted and dramatic. But again this is the first book of a series so who know what might happen.
Recommendation: Witch Eyes is one of the first witch books I’ve really enjoyed. It’s a compelling story and the magic system is fascinating. An incredibly unique book.(less)
Unfortunately, for me, this book was a giant cliche.
The first half of this book is so much like Twilight, that it makes me think they did it on purpose. On her first day at school, Claire meets a mysterious boy, who doesn't say much but is strangely drawn to her. Later on he displays unnatural abilities while saving her from an oncoming car. And when he uses his abilities he glows. These are just a few examples, but they feel awfully familiar.
The second half was slightly more original. Instead of vampires and werewolves the focus was on the mythology of angels – specifically the Grigori and the Nephilim. I haven't read a lot of angel books so I don't know if this is a common mythology, but I definitely found it an interesting one. Unfortunately, amongst this mythology was even more cliches.
First off was the whole “damsel in distress” storyline. I'm really tired of females characters that need to be rescued all the time. Especially, since we're led to believe that Claire has these amazing angelic powers that make her a threat to the others (like the Grigori and the Fallen). I wish she had spent a little more time thinking for herself then simply running off to find Alec to save her. Which brings me to my second complaint. Insta-love. I'm sorry but there is no way these two are in love already. It is ludicrous. They barely know each other and they spent part of the time they did know each other lying about themselves. So they know each other even less than they think they do! It just wasn't realistic.
This book really disappointed me. It felt like a recycled story. I really liked the mythology and felt like they could have really done something interesting with it. Instead it fell victim to the same old YA tropes that need to be left behind. (less)
What's better for Halloween than a good old fashioned ghost story?
Because that's what we have on our hands with Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood. It's a creepy and suspenseful read, that draws you in and keeps you guessing. The story centres around Cass Lowood (not Anna as the title might suggest). He's not your average teenage boy - he's a ghost hunter. A career he inherited from his father. I loved the way Kendare wrote Cass. He voice was the perfect mixture of teenage boy and someone who is wise beyond their years. He's intelligent, but also sassy and brave, making him an incredibly interesting character to read about.
At the beginning of the novel, Cass is heading out on his next assignment. One that will take him all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a lifetime resident of Eastern Ontario (no where near Thunder Bay) I can count on one hand the number of people I know who have ventured all the way up to Thunder Bay. So needless to say the unusual setting immediately caught my attention. Though it didn't end up being that different from other settings, it was just remote enough to add an extra creepiness factor.
Speaking of the creepiness factor - Anna Dressed in Blood was a lot more intense and a lot more gory than I had expected. In my experience with YA supernatural the violence is often understated or done "off screen" but Kendare Blake doesn't shy away from the more difficult scenes. Her writing is very detailed and you can really picture the horrific events as they were unfolding.
The one thing that didn't sit quite right with me was the romance. It just felt really off and I had a hard time buying that it was actually happening. I think if you removed the romance the story still stands on it's own and depending on my mood, I may even say that it would be better without it. But I guess if I can accept Bram and Nora (a human-zombie couple from Dearly Departed) than I can accept Cass and Anna (a human-ghost couple). But I still think it's strange and a little creepy.
Notes of the Audio Anna Dressed in Blood is told completely from Cass's perspective. Which means for the most part August Ross is reading as though he was Cass, and for that he does a fine job. He captures the attitude and intelligent nature perfectly and I was able to feel like I was really getting to know Cass. However, August Ross' female voices were cartoonish and kept pulling me right out of the story. They didn't feel realistic and they were completely over the top. Because of that I would recommend this book in print over audio.
Recommendation: An excellent ghost story with a fabulous set of characters. Perfect to curl up with on a windy autumn evening. (less)
Dearly Departed was one of those books that completely blew me away and exceeded all my expectations. At first I read the plot synopsis and honest to god my first reaction was “oh...It's about zombies.” The cover was nice and I liked the New Victorian idea but zombies? I've never been that into zombies. But then a couple bloggers I know and whom I trust completely when they recommend me a book, started raving about this book. I figured I'd give it a shot, started to read and much to my surprise I found myself more and more in love with the plot, the setting, the characters. Everything.
First of all, the zombies in this book aren't your average stumble around, brain eating, moaning beasts. They're real people who have had a really horrible thing happen to them. They still talk and feel and believe etc. The lead male – Bram, is potentially one of the sweetest guys ever. Before long you find yourself not caring that he's dead or a zombie. He's just Bram. I love that this book doesn't just use zombies, it makes them real characters you can connect with.
Beyond the well written zombies (never thought I'd say that!) Lia Habel has written this book with an incredible amount of detail. She's thought of everything! I've always wondered when reading Neo-Victorian novels why exactly people in the future would revert back to the Victorian age. Lia Habel has an answer for that. What about the environment and global warming? Yup that gets accounted for too. And the zombies themselves, why aren't they falling apart and rotting (they are dead after all)? Lia Habel has thought of all that too. Things make sense in this book. It didn't require me to make any leaps of faith or leave me wondering about some serious loose ends.
Last but not least I have to talk about the romance. There was no love triangle! I do like the occasional love triangle, but lately it seems like every book has one. I loved that this one only involved Bram and Nora. They also had to work at their relationship. They come from different worlds. Trust needed to built, and then friendship. They needed that foundation if they were ever going to become a believable couple and thankfully that's just what happened. You got to see the evolution of their relationship and I loved that about them. Finally, the love story didn't overwhelm the plot. Yes, it was wonderful and sweet but the main storyline still shone through and kept you on the edge of you seat, waiting to see what happened next.
All in all this was a great book. If you're not a fan of zombies don't let that deter you from reading it. I wasn't really a zombie person either and I loved this book. It's so well written and a lot of fun to read. You're going to fall in love with Bram, zombie or not, he's just that great of a guy. I can't wait to see where Lia Habel takes this series next and what adventures are still in store for the star crossed lovers. (less)
I love zombie novels. I love them almost as much as I love fairy and dragon novels. But I would have never disco...moreOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
I love zombie novels. I love them almost as much as I love fairy and dragon novels. But I would have never discovered how much I loved this genre if it wasn't for Lia Habel's Dearly Departed. Intrigued at the idea of a zombie love story in a steampunk setting, I reviewed the title last winter. I was instantly in love. And after that I began seeking out other zombie novels, and much to my delight I loved them too. So when I saw the follow up novel Dearly Beloved on NetGalley I knew I had to give it a read. And I'm happy to say it was just as enjoyable as the first!
Lia Habel once again juggles an incredible and gigantic cast of characters. Each central character is given a few chapters in their own point-of-view and Habel makes every individual come alive on the page. They each have such distinct personalities and even though you only get a little time with each one, you really get to know them. I particularly liked the newly introduced, Laura. She is an example of great character development. At the beginning of Dearly Beloved she is a scared little girl, who does what she's told and let's other people boss her around. But as the story goes on she becomes more independent and develops some of the characteristics of a great leader. I hope we get to see more of her in the next book.
One of the reasons this series is so unique is the love story. Nora and Bram are one of the most amazing YA couples out there. They care deeply for one another and there's no question they're in love. But they also respect each other and their independence. They don't have to be around each other every moment and they don't neglect the rest of the people in their life now that they're together. That being said I love reading about the two of them together because they're just so adorable! I was really happy that the romance didn't take over this story – since there was more important things going on – but I would have liked these two to have a little more time together.
My one complaint when it comes to Dearly Beloved is that I found the plot a little harder to follow. There was a lot more going on in this novel and you're receiving information from a lot of different angles and perspectives. At times it was difficult to keep straight how everyone/everything was connected. This wasn't a huge problem over all but it made for a few confusing moments while reading.
Dearly Departed was everything I could have wanted from a sequel. It captured all the imagination and action of the first book, brought back my favourite characters and introduced some new story lines that kept everything fresh. I can't wait to see where Lia Habel takes this series next!(less)
I have a confession. I like vampire novels. Not the more recent vampire novels that always devolve into love stories but the gritty, dangerous ones from writers like Anne Rice and Kristen Painter. So when I heard that Julie Kagawa was tackling the vampire novel I was excited (but a little nervous). She's easily one of my favourite authors and after getting a look at that eye catching cover I had high hopes for the story. And you know what? She delivered.
Julie Kagawa makes no apologies for the vampires. They are dangerous, they're blood thirsty, they can not be vegetarians and sooner or later they will kill somebody. That's the way it should be.It helps that she's set this story in a post-apocalyptic setting where vampires are the supreme overlords of many of the major cities. The idea that we would essentially become blood slaves in order to survive is a pretty chilling one.I've heard a lot of people describe the setting as dystopian and I don't think that's quite accurate but it is definitely a jaded version of our own world and one that I was fascinated with.
Just because the vampires are dangerous however, doesn't mean that you feel disconnected from them. The Immortal Rules is set from Allison Sekemoto's point of view - a.k.a from the vampires point of view not from the POV of a sappy human that is in love with said vampire. You get an in depth look of what life was like for a human in this world and later what it was like for a vampire. Allison may become a dangerous and blood thirsty killer but she still has a personality and a heart and you get to experience all of her struggles right along with her.
The fabulous Julie Kagawa has done it again - she has created an amazing world with interesting characters for me to become obsessed with. I have no doubt that I will be following this series just as eagerly as I do the Iron Fey.
Final recommendation: For all of you who love a good old fashioned gritty vampire novel. And of course for fans of Julie Kagawa. She doesn't disappoint. (less)
I can honestly say I’ve never read a book about someone who can astrally project. It was an interesting premise and one that sucked me in right away. I think it is safe to say, that regardless of all the problems Anna encounters during Auracle I am still completely jealous of her gift. I’d love to be able to astrally project anywhere in the universe at any time. Can you imagine how amazing that would be? If you can’t Gina Rosati provides some amazing examples in Auracle – like flying through the stars, seeing your favourite band play on the other side of the world, and impromptu vacations in exotic locations. And best of all sunrise tours! That is my new life dream. I wish there had been a little more exploration of astral projection, but I understand there was a story to get to.
Anna is one interesting main character. Sometimes she’s brave and intelligent and takes action but other times she’s afraid and a bit whiny. I suppose, in some ways, this is just human nature but I would have liked to see her take control a bit more, rather than rely on Rei so much. That being said, she does have a lot of great independent and creative ideas, which make her the true hero of this story.
Speaking of Rei – I know I’m supposed to really like him, and he is a great guy but sometimes he is so protective of Anna that I begin to feel suffocated. I’m not sure how she can stand it. He’s a good guy and he’s just trying to look out for her (excellent qualities in a best friend) but checking to see if she’s brushed her teeth or eaten enough fruit? That may be borderline obsessive.
One thing that really surprised me was Auracle wasn’t as serious as I thought it would be. There’s a lot of serious stuff going on but it is actually quite a light read. And that works for Auracle. Instead of constantly trying to keep up with the tension and the drama, you can just lean back and enjoy the story.
Final recommendation: A nice light read with some unique ideas. Perfect for paranormal fans and those looking for a book to throw in their beach bag.(less)
A lot of zombie novels pull at the heart strings. They strip the characters down to their absolute base – bringing...moreOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
A lot of zombie novels pull at the heart strings. They strip the characters down to their absolute base – bringing them head to head with do or die situations. It's hard not to get emotional in such situations. However, I think it's safe to say no zombie novels have pulled at my heart strings quite like This Is Not a Test.
This novel largely takes place within the high school of a few surviving teenagers. They survived the early stages of the outbreak and now have to figure out what their next steps should be. This would be pretty average except for Sloane. A victim of abuse and severly depressed she doesn't react to situations the same way as everyone else. It would be an understatement to say Sloane broke my heart. She may not have had the same thirst for life as everyone else but never the less she's a survivor. She's a fighter. And in many ways I think she's the bravest one of all. She kept going even though she had every reason not too. That being said at times I was also convinced she was a coward. Instead of devaluing her as a character however, this made her even more authentic.
This Is Not a Test was an interesting choice for Courtney Summers. I think it was a gamble to write a zombie novel with a depressed/suicidal main character but it paid off. I found myself left breathless and shocked by certain moments and heart broken by others. By the time I reached the last page my chest ached. This was a beautiful novel.
Final recommendation: A heart wrenching yet inspiring novel. This one will appeal to both zombie fans and contemporary lovers. Sounds crazy but it's true.(less)
I am nothing if not determined. And in this particular instance I am determined to find the mermaid book that...moreThis and other reviews at Hooked on Books
I am nothing if not determined. And in this particular instance I am determined to find the mermaid book that works for me. It has to be out there. I loved the Little Mermaid - both the original and the Disney version. I even sang "Part of Your World" for my audition for Annie way back in Middle School.
Lies Beneath, started out as strong contender. I love Anne Greenwood Brown's take on mermaid. First that they live in Lake Superior (that's partially in Canada! Canadian-ish mermaids!) and that they're monsters. Like pull you down and drown you, then laugh about it later monsters. It still gives me the shivers, to think of such horrible, yet beautiful, creatures living in the dark waters of the Great Lakes. And these mermaids really do live up to their creepy description. Anne did a fantastic job, especially when it came to Calder's sisters, of driving the particular characteristic home.
I also really enjoyed the premise of their conflict with the Hancocks. It seemed just like something out of an old fairy tale (man sacrificing his first born and what not). And I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how/when they were going to catch this poor unsuspecting man. Does that make me a little twisted? I may be a little twisted. But still it made for a really compelling plot.
The only point where this book started to lose me, was when it came to Lily. Initially I really liked her, quirky, smart, marched to the beat of her own drum. She was a girl after my own heart. But then she began to lose her common sense a little a lot when it came to Calder, and I began a little disillusioned with her. She was so willingly to put herself in harm's way, and at times her head was a little too far up in the clouds. Ugh and the dressing up like Tennyson's Lady of Shalott? Too much. But on the other hand, this made me really anxious to read the next book, Deep Betrayal, as it is told from her point-of-view, and I'm hoping she represents herself as more intelligent and self reliant, than Calder makes her out to be.
Overall, this was a fairly interesting book, it hooked me at the beginning and kept me interested until the end. I was a little turned off by the female character (I can't help it - I want strong, amazing female characters) and the love story but I wouldn't completely dismiss it for those reasons. Unfortunately, however, this means I'm still searching for my ideal mermaid novel.
Final recommendation: Recommended for those who are enjoying the mermaid trend and for those who like their supernatural creatures a little on the dark side. (less)
I hadn't heard much about Something Strange and Deadly before I stumbled across it. I knew it was para...moreThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
I hadn't heard much about Something Strange and Deadly before I stumbled across it. I knew it was paranormal in nature and had a bit of historical twist to it. I definitely wasn't expecting such a fabulous steampunk-esque zombie romp, that I could easily read over and over again.
By far my favourite thing about this novel was the characters. Particularly Eleanor. She was often finding herself in hot water due to her stubborn nature. I may not be facing the walking dead but I can definitely relate to that! But even through her stubbornness she was fiercely loyal and willing to put herself in danger time and time again in order to help others. She was a respectable and admirable character and the story was richer because of her.
I would be lying, however, if I said Eleanor was the only character that interested me. Because I knew from the first moment Daniel walked onto the scene that I adored him. He's intelligent, handsome, good with his hands. He's got a bit of an attitude but he brave and compassionate - even if he won't admit it. If you're looking for a new leading man to fall in love with, he's your man!
All these characters were smack dab in a beautiful and vivid setting. It's old school Victorian style gave the novel a more haunted feel and it mixed just the right amount of steampunk elements to make Something Strange and Deadly unique and interesting. Like all good settings, Susan Dennard's 1876 Philadelphia, enhanced the story without distracting from it.
I will admit that the storyline is fairly predictable. It follows a pretty standard formula and the outcome won't be a surprise but there are still a few good surprises and overall it is an incredibly fun and entertaining read.
Final recommendation: Highly recommended for steampunk fans and those who loved Lia Habel's Dearly Departed.(less)
This book takes place in imperial Russia!!! I love imperial Russia!!
Sorry that was a bit of an outburst but seriously I really do love books set in this time period. It is arguably one of the five best places you could set a novel. I just find it so magical and mysterious. There's also so much history coming out of Russia at that time (which I may or may not be obsessed with as well). This meant that right away, from the very first chapter I was completely enamoured with this story. It was also great to read this book in winter when my current surrounding of snow and cold matched the setting of the story.
Now since this setting already has a mysterious quality to it, the paranormal element just seemed to fit so perfectly. It didn't feel overly cheesy or silly. I actually think it added just the right touch of darkness and intrigue that kept me hanging on throughout the entire novel. This book combines a variety of supernatural creatures, including fairies, vampires and what are essentially zombies. All of which we've seen a lot of recently in the YA genre. But due to the historical nature of this tale and the mixing in of Russian folklore, it all felt very unique and fun to read about. In addition it was nice to see them all converge in one place and react to one another.
Robin Bridges' debut is an exciting and creative read. It combines one of my favourite settings, with a lot of standard paranormal characters and it does it in a way that feels fresh and original. To me this book is definitely a must read.(less)
Who would have thought a novel about Grim Reapers could be so delightful?
Gina Damico has created the fabulous town of Croak, a mostly isolated community where one third of America's Grim Reapers, live, sleep and work. I loved how creative this setting was. Everything about it was unqiue and catchy and the way everything, from the store to the local bar was named after death - yes some of the names were pretty cheesy but that was part of the fun! They even have there very own drink, which is said to taste like drinking desert. Sign me up for some of that!
Setting aside, what really made me fall head over heels for this book was Lex. She has some absolutely hilarious moments. Shes angry, she's stubborn and she isn't afraid to speak her mind (even if what she has to say is kind of rude). And she was perfectly paired with Driggs, her partner in death. Their personalities seem to clash yet perfectly compliment each other at the same time. I thought the dialogue of their many arguments was spot on.
One of the major sore spots for Lex, in her new found calling, is that often times when someone is murdered they (the Reapers) are able to see exactly who committed the crime but they are forbidden from interfering. Lex feels pretty strongly that they can (and should) do something about all these horrible people in the world. I thought this led to an interesting and thought provoking plot. Amongst the humour, this book was also able to raise some important questions about who should choose punishments, who gets to “play God”, and what exactly justice is. Very clever the way Gina slipped that in.
For those looking for something a little more light hearted, you're going to find plenty to enjoy within these pages. But for those who like their stories a little more complex I think there's plenty here for you as well. I think this book has a unique ability to adapt - depending on you want to get out of it. I can't wait for the sequel so I can read more about the people of Croak and see how Gina Diamaco expands on many of the obstacles Lex is faced with.(less)
Michelle Hodkin is the queen of the unreliable narrator!
Generally speaking, I have mixed feeling about unreliable narrators. Sometimes I really enjoy the added dimension they give to the story, other times they drive me absolutely insane! But this one was absolutely perfect. Mara Dyer kept me guessing, throughout it all she kept me on my toes. No matter what I was reading, despite all the evidence telling me it was actually happening I could never believe anything Mara was saying and I loved the suspense of it all.
Like book one, The Evolution of Mara Dyer absolutely consumed my life while I was reading it. Every chance I got I had to sneak in more pages. On the subway, during my lunch, while standing over the oven making dinner, while brushing my teeth. Once you start reading you are overcome with an absolute need to know what happens next. The tension in the book is always dialed up the the max and it is guaranteed to get your heart pounding.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was an intense read, but I think The Evolution of Mara Dyer took the story to a new level by being super creepy. There some new characters and some new twists that kept me biting my nails, worrying about what would happen to Mara, her family and Noah. I can’t really elaborate without giving anything away. But yeah. Creepy stuff.
There were however, some problems with this book that I didn’t have with book 1. For instance there was just so much going on. I got confused on a number of occasions. The narrative wasn’t as straight forward and it was easy to get lost in all the flashbacks etc. I also didn’t enjoy the romance quite as much. I still like Noah, but I didn’t love him in the same way. He was colder, more distance and his role in this story frustrated me more than anything. But I definitely plan on continuing the series, so I hope he’ll go back to the Noah I love in book 3.
Recommendation: A thrilling roller coaster of a sequel. You’re guaranteed to fly through the pages, desperate to know what happens next.(less)
*Warning this review contains spoilers for Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake*
It's been months since Anna sacrificed herself to save Cas, Thomas and Carmel, but Cas just can't seem to let her go. He's seeing her everywhere, hearing her voice and he knows that he needs to save her. No matter what it takes.
I really enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood. It was a good old fashioned ghost story and perfect to read on a stormy night. The one criticism I had was that the relationship just felt weird to me. It seemed tacked on to the end of the story and just unnatural in every sense of the word. Plus no one in Cas' universe seemed to think it was weird either. Yeah right. So you can imagine my disappointment when the majority of this book is focused on Cas' feelings about Anna. Girl of Nightmares went in a completely different direction than Anna Dressed in Blood. The "someone took a giant needle and injected this book with 50 cc's of angst" direction.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not totally heartless. I understand that Cas misses Anna. I understand that he feels like he owes her for saving his life. But when EVERYONE (including witches and voodoo masters who clearly know what they're talking about) is telling you not to do something, maybe you should stop for a moment and re-evaluate your life choices. And then to tell your WIDOWED mother, that she doesn't understand why you would want to bring someone back from the other side....Not cool Cas. Not cool.
But I hung in there and Girl of Nightmares did improve somewhere around the halfway mark. It felt like the story was finally beginning, as Cas finally stopped talking about Anna and started to actually take action. He faces some new challenges and Kendare Blake managed to capture the suspense and thrills of Anna Dressed in Blood in a way that was completely new and a little unexpected. And she introduced a new character! Jestine. Whom I loved. She was sassy and competent and by far the best female character to come out of this series. I would gladly read a spin off just about her, I found her so interesting and wanted to know more about what she did after Girl of Nightmares ended.
Recommendation: Overall, Girl of Nightmares was a fairly interesting read but it didn't capture me the same way Anna Dressed in Blood did. In all honesty, I think this story would have worked much better as a standalone. (less)
I liked this one significantly better than Volume 5. It felt more like the original style of the comics - looking at human emotion, reaction, interact...moreI liked this one significantly better than Volume 5. It felt more like the original style of the comics - looking at human emotion, reaction, interaction etc. in the face of a crisis.
However I'm still becoming a bit disillusioned with the series overall. Many events seem to happen for shock value and at time the dialogue makes me groan.
I'll keep reading but I'm going to keep my expectations low.(less)
I absolutely loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was one of my favourite reads in 2011. And I fe...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I absolutely loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was one of my favourite reads in 2011. And I felt like I waited for Days of Blood and Starlight forever! Laini Taylor is an amazing writer and therefore it was no surprise when I opened up this book and found it just as captivating as the first.
Now just because Days of Blood and Starlight had me hooked as much as Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn’t mean they were similar is many other ways. I noticed right away that it was going to be much much darker than the previous book. The truth has been revealed (or remembered) by Karou and there’s no denying it or hiding from it. I appreicated that Laini Taylor didn’t give the characters in this novel any excuses. They were forced to face the consequences of their actions – whether fair or not – and sometimes those consequences were ugly and violent.
That being said, her writing is still absolutely gorgeous. It’s like poetry. And her world building is some of the best I’ve ever read. At one point while I was reading I looked up from the book and told my boyfriend “she doesn’t write books, she creates worlds.” I felt like I was right there, immersed in Karou’s world. Whereas Daughter of Smoke and Bone spent a lot of time in our own human world, Days of Blood and Starlight really gave the reader more insight into what life is like for the chimera and the seraphin. And because of the shifting perspective throughout the book I also found there was a fair representation of both sides and the people involved in it. This style made the world building feel so complete and detailed but never overly so. Despite the length of the book, I never found myself growing bored, or wishing she would skip ahead to bits with more action. I savored every word.
In addition to the world building we also received more information on a wealth of new characters. New enemies and new reasons to despise them. New people to fall in love with. We get to learn more about the White Wolf and Akiva’s “siblings.” The best thing about all these amazing characters was you see how the events unfolding affects each of them. It proves that no experience is the same for everyone involved and at times I felt conflicted over who I should be rooting for. There’s even more character building for those that did make an appearance in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Like Zuzana! She was fabulous and I hope we get more of her still in the next book. I also fell hard for a new character called Ziri. But you’ll have to read the book to find out why
As I mentioned before this book is dark. And it touches on some very serious issues. I’m not going to sugar coat it – some scenes were hard to read. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of this, but I think it’s brave and admirable that Laini Taylor doesn’t shy away from writing about the difficult things. Why should she? While Daughter of Smoke and Bone is about love, Days of Blood is Starlight is most definitely about war. War is a horrible and gruesome thing and Laini’s writing is honest about that reality. It would be weird if some of these violent things didn’t happen because history/experience tells us they would (Also check out this post from Stacked about The Chemical Garden trilogy for a similar discussion).
Recommendation: Daughter of Smoke and Bone was only a hint of the fabulous writing Laini Taylor is capable of. Days of Blood and Starlight takes the story to a whole new level. An absolute must read for fans of the series.(less)
My experience with young adult angel books has been...limited. I am very new to this subsection of the paranormal genre. And the ones I have read are...moreMy experience with young adult angel books has been...limited. I am very new to this subsection of the paranormal genre. And the ones I have read are usually a little cheesy and predictable. So imagine my surprise when I found myself pouring through Jessica Shirvington's Embrace. I loved the characters (especially Phoenix *swoon*), I love the action and most of all I love the incredible amount of detail. Jessica clearly did her research with this one.
One of my biggest pet peeves with angel books so far has been the glossy over of the very rich and intricate mythology that comes with them. Some titles are dropped with the brief descriptions and there you go. Embrace really gets into the nitty gritty of the mythology and I couldn't get enough of it.(less)
When I signed up for the blog tour for this book I wasn't 100% what I was getting myself in to. I knew that it w...moreOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
When I signed up for the blog tour for this book I wasn't 100% what I was getting myself in to. I knew that it was a paranormal novel (the main character is a werewolf after all) and I knew there was a murder mystery. I did not know that this novel was the combination of two of my favourite genres – the paranormal novel and the cozy mystery. I would have never thought to put these two together but Jamieson Ridenhour makes it work.
The mystery in this novella was well crafted. One of the main ways I judge the quality of a mystery novel is by how predictable it is. While reading Barking Mad I was continuously trying to guess who the murder was. It seemed like I had a new guess every other pages. It wasn't until right near the end that I had a clear idea of what had happened. That's what I call a good mystery!
In addition to the mystery Ridenhour has created an amazing cast of character. They're all so detailed and unique. They all have such strong personalities that you can't help but get to know them incredibly well. I especially loved Reggie and Pelham. Their chemistry is perfect! More than once the dialogue between them made me laugh out loud.
Jamieson Ridenhour has written a story that is intelligent and witty. He's written prose in a distinct style, that reminds me of Alan Bradley and thrown in some werewolves for good measure. It was a short book but everything you could want is there – humour, mystery, interesting twists, great dialogue. I wouldn't have added or changed a thing.(less)
The more I read this series the more I love Alma Katsu’s writing. She is a mystery/paranormal/historical fiction...moreOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
The more I read this series the more I love Alma Katsu’s writing. She is a mystery/paranormal/historical fiction mastermind. She’s got three genres going on here and doesn’t drop the ball once.
The Reckoning reunited us with Lanny and Luke a few months after The Taker ends. They’ve settled into a life together and Lanny is learning to let go of her past, to really let herself be free. This plan hits a snag however when the building keeping Adair prisoner is demolished and he is finalley freed, ready to seek vengeance on Lanny.
Despite being horribly evil Adair is easily my favourite character of this series. He’s just so…bad. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page when he’s in the scene. So you can imagine I was happy to see him return in The Reckoning. Not only does he return – you get to know his character in some very new and personal ways. It was really interesting to get a look inside the mind of the Devil himself.
The Reckoning also goes back and fills in the gaps. It tells the reader, in amazing detail, what Lanore goes through all those years that Adair was buried in the wall. She travelled all over the world and Alma Katsu devotes equal attention to all the different locations she visited. From Moracco, to Italy, to Barcelona – it is so easy to get swept up in the epic nature of this story.
Final recommendation: if you haven’t picked up this series yet, go out and find a copy of book one, The Taker, immediately. If you’ve already read (and loved) The Taker you will not be disappointed by The Reckoning. It is a sequel that is every bit as good as the first.(less)
Croak by Gina Damico was one of my surprise favourites earlier this year. It was fun, clever, exciting. A perfec...moreOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
Croak by Gina Damico was one of my surprise favourites earlier this year. It was fun, clever, exciting. A perfect recipe for success. Because of my love for Croak I was a bit nervous going into Scorch.Would it live up to the brilliance of the first book? But I should have known better than to worry. Gina's writing has a way of putting you at ease. Letting you lean back and enjoy the ride as she piles on the crazy.
Just like in Croak, the dialogue in this novel was spot on. The conversations felt entirely real and could have easily been happening right in front of me. And because the dialogue was so perfect, the characters really came to life. They had real emotions, relationships and real faults. Even the bad guys were relatable and you just don't see that very often.
Even better than the dialogue was the relationship between Lex and Driggs. They have the perfect partnership. Lex doesn't give up who she is to be with Driggs and vice versa. They treat each other as equals and they work together. It's a beautiful thing! It was nice to see a YA relationship where they trust one another and there's no angsty nonsense. I'm not saying things are perfect all of the time, but it is one hundred percent believable that these two are in love.
There is a lot more action in this book. Partially because it isn`t completely situated in the town of Croak. And although I loved Croak, this was a nice change of pace. The other reason is that there's a lot more danger in this book. The fear is immediate and some really horrible things happen to beloved characters. Gina Damico obviously wasn't afriad to make some hard decisions while writing this book and that really helped set a dramatic, urgent tone in Scorch. And though some parts broke my heart, or made me throw the book across the room, it was a better novel because of it.
Once again Gina Damico has produced a fabulous novel. Funny, creepy, suspensful. An absolute joy to read. If you haven't read this series yet, you're missing out.
Final recommendation: A must for those who like a side of humour with their paranormal. Also recommeded for those who enjoyed the show Dead Like Me.(less)
Until Next Time, the first in a new series, is definitely a unique take on the traditional young adult angel novel.
There are two main reasons I found this book was set apart from others like it – its setting and the presence of religion within the story. I want to speak to each of these elements and why they worked (or didn't) in this novel. First off the setting, the majority of this book takes place in a historical Ireland. This was a big plus right off the bat. I love stories set in Ireland. It's beautiful, filled with history and just a little bit magical. Amy Lignor put so much thought and detail into the setting, at times it felt like I was being swept away by a historical fiction novel, instead of a paranormal. It was beautifully done.
Then there was the heavy religious connotation to much of the story. In many ways I appreciated it. I'm not a very religious person but I have to admit it irks me that many of the recent angel novels, go out of their way to avoid talking about religion. If you're going to write about angels, you should at least acknowledge where they came from. From the beginning of Until Next Time, we're introduced to heaven and a whole legion of angels and saints, including Gabriel, Michael, Mark and Thomas. I thought this was an interesting choice and it sets this book apart from many others I have read this year.
Unique or not, there were a still a few elements of this story that really didn't appeal to me. Though I appreciated the religious element, I didn't find it very well done and at times was more than a little confused. Matt and Emily are partners. Angels sent down to heaven to assist/carry out job left unfinished. However the logistics of this were never very clear and whenever they were sucked back up to heaven for a “lesson” or to save some souls I ended up rereading passages and becoming very confused over who knew what and who was responsible for specific jobs. I was also lost in regards to the whole “soulmates” situation. Apparently Matt and Emily are soulmates but when she's on Earth she's playing the part of the human so she's allowed to experience things like love and falls for another guy. This becomes a major source of conflict between Matt and Emily in the angel scenes that are interspersed throughout the novel. But if they couldn't fall in love until they were human, why was there soulmate situation so strongly emphasised before they went down? Exactly what emotions are the angels capable of feeling? There was just too many questions for me.
Overall this was a really interesting book and the main, earthly story line was really captivating, the setting was beautiful, there are some stellar characters. I personally really loved Faith. There were times she actually made me laugh out loud. The angel-half of the story wasn't really for me but I can recommend it to those who enjoy other YA angel novels. You'll find some similar elements you're sure to love, but they're within a story that's fresh and exciting.(less)
At the beginning of this novel Simon has it all. A good job, loving wife, adorable kid, nice apartment...moreThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
At the beginning of this novel Simon has it all. A good job, loving wife, adorable kid, nice apartment. But then he suddenly loses his job and everything changes. He becomes a stay at home dad, money gets tight. There's a lot of adjustments to be made. The later werewolf craziness aside, I really liked this part. I really liked the way it stretched Simon as a character and the way he was forced to comfort certain negative aspects about himself. Good character development, especially when it comes at a price, is always a positive in my personal ledger.
Then we get into the crazy werewolf stuff. What sets The Pack apart from some other werewolf novels, is that Simon is not transforming/changing in isolation. There are a whole group of guys just like him, and more importantly there is a pack leader. Also the transformation is much more subtle, it's not simply a case of being bitten. It becomes a bit more nuanced then just an animalistic act, and because of that the whole process takes a lot longer. This means the reader gets to spend a lot more time examining the different stages of the transformation, instead of simply being pushed through a whirlwind of action. Some people may not care for this more drawn out approach, but I really appreciated it.
However, I can't review this book without mentioning the women. To put it simply, they were really poorly written. There are only a few women that play any sort of role in this story, and for the most part I found them one dimensional and overly irrational. More often than not, their actions just didn't make sense. I am easily frustrated when their are no female characters the reader can respect.
Overall, I have some mixed feeling about this novel. I enjoyed reading, but I was distracted and bothered by the female characters. If I have ratings I would probably put this around a 3/5.
Final recommendation: A good thriller, and a new and interesting take on the werewolf novel. There are some problems with the characterization but if you're willing to overlook them, you'll find this an entertaining read.(less)