Before the Thorskards came to Trondheim, we didn't have a permanent dragon slayer. When a dragon attacked, you had to petition town hall (assuming itBefore the Thorskards came to Trondheim, we didn't have a permanent dragon slayer. When a dragon attacked, you had to petition town hall (assuming it wasn't on fire), and they would send to Toronto (assuming the phone lines weren't on fire), and Queen's Park would send out one of the government dragon slayers (assuming nothing in Toronto was on fire). By the time the dragon slayer arrived, anything not already lit on fire in the original attack would be, and whether the dragon was eventually slayed or not, we'd be struck with reconstruction. Again.
Needless to say, when it was announced that Lottie Thorskard was moving to town permanently, it was like freaking Mardi Gras (p. 1).
The Story of Owen is an absolutely brilliant YA fantasy. It was smart, original, and entertaining and leaves you looking for more from bard-in-training,
, and her dragon slayer, Owen Thorskard.
Siobhan is your average high school student. She gets good grades and is intent in her focus on music composition, determined to get into a good musical school. However, all of Siobhan's career aspirations change when her rural town of Trondheim gets it's very own dragon slayer.
Owen Thorskard's very famous family has moved to Trondhiem following his aunt's retirement. Officially, it's Owen's father that is the town's dragon slayer, but really it's a family affair. Of course, the arrival of the Thorskards in Trondheim has the small rural community in an uproar. Siobhan doesn't expect to be involved in any of it, but all that changes when she happens to meet Owen on his first day at her high school. Suddenly Siobhan finds herself right in the middle of dragon slaying with her very own job to do. Siobhan is called to be Owen's bard, the teller of his heroic feats. But there's much more to it that simply telling a good yarn, Siobhan has also been recruited because of Owen's aunt's determination to change the world of dragon slaying. They want to return to the ways of old, move away from the commercialized and privatized career that dragon slaying has become.
Of course Siobhan's role in changing the face of dragon slaying arrives sooner than expected when Trondhiem is plagued by an increased number of dragon attacks. Owen has to step up to the plate as a dragon slayer much sooner than expected, bringing Siobhan along on this adventure.
I was completely blown away by The Story of Owen. This was an amazing story. It was fun, unique and downright smart. The first thing that caught my attention was the world that Johnston has created. In this version of Canada dragons just are. Dragons are a part of daily life and have been forever. This has impacted industry, historical events, everything down the daily lives of those that co-exist alongside these dragons. This is why dragon slayers are needed. They protect those that cannot fight off the dragons. However, over the years the position of dragon slayer has become privatized. Dragon slayers no longer simply protect their hometown, they are required to enlist with the Oil Watch and are paid big bucks to protect what they're told to. This means many small towns, like Trondhiem, are left unprotected by dragon attacks because they cannot afford to provide the same financial incentives as larger cities and corporations. Me thinks it's quite significant that dragon slayers are employed by the Oil Watch. Could this perhaps be a comment on current events? Yes, I think so.
I loved how Johnston created a rich fantasy world. Current and historical events were blended together so well with the addition of dragons, it was impossible not to see the larger social commentary that was being made (i.e. privatization, commercialization). What makes this a particularly strong book is that something is being said about the world, but the book still remains a fun and fast-paced read.
In addition to the fact that The Story of Owen is more than a simple story, the style of the story and the characters that exist in it are also well crafted. The entire book is narrated by Siobhan in her role as Owen's bard. She is recounting events after the fact but this doesn't lessen the action that is happening. This style of narration also allows for Siobhan to unravel for the readers the world in which dragons exist. It was a different style of narration, Siobhan is "speaking" directly with readers, but it was engaging and refreshing.
The characters of Siobhan and Owen are also what makes the story. Given the title and the subject you'd assume that Owen is the hero, and to an extent he is. He's not the expected hero. Siobhan originally describes him as a bit scrawny and he's not particularly good at school. But I loved the fact that Owen wasn't the expected hero, it once again highlighted the fact that The Story of Owen was something a little different. While Owen is the dragon slayer, I think you can also argue that it is Siobhan who is the real hero of The Story of Owen. It's her story after all, she's the storyteller, without her there would be no story. And while Siobhan is no dragon slayer, she is a dedicated friend to Owen and makes some hard choices because of that. I love that being a bard becomes Siobhan's vocation. It's more than a lark to her, it becomes a career choice and that dedication means Siobhan is forced to make sacrifices for it.
The Story of Owen was such a unique reading experience. It was different from all the romance-infused YA that's out right now (not that I have a problem with those kinds of books) and I think that it will appeal to a wide audience. The fact that this is a thought-provoking read and it's Canadian connection wins a lot of points with me. I'm left wanting more and I can't wait to read it's sequel, Prairie Fire.
Strange Country is the final book in Deborah Coates rural fantasy trilogy. In the final installment all the threads all pulled together leaving readerStrange Country is the final book in Deborah Coates rural fantasy trilogy. In the final installment all the threads all pulled together leaving readers with a satisfying conclusion, although I wouldn't be opposed to further books featuring Hallie and Boyd. Ultimately, this book is hauntingly written, showcasing a barren landscape in an exceptionally vivid way. Strange Country is not action-packed, but does it ever leave an impression.
The third book follows the events of Deep Down. Hallie has saved Boyd from the under; however, it came at the expense of his life. Boyd had to die and come back, and it's put a strain on their relationship. Boyd doesn't remember dying and he'd rather not. Adding further complication is Hallie's offer from Death. Death, having spared Hallie in Afghanistan, feels that Hallie owes a debt, and he'd like Hallie to take his place in the under. Hallie's afraid of having to make that decision since she's finally come to terms with the fact that she wants to stay, she wants to live and set down roots. At the same time, Hallie recognizes that if it comes down to staying and saving the world, she's going to help people because that's just what she does. This is the other element that's causing some strain in her and Boyd's relationship. However, it's not this conflict that propels Strange Country, but rather the death of several people who messed with magic when they should have left it alone.What I really liked about Strange Country was the author's decision to include Boyd Davies point of view in the narrative. In the previous two books, the story has been told exclusively from Hallie Michaels perspective. While I'm not sure this abrupt change-up always works in other series, it made sense for Strange Country as it served to bring two divergent plot lines neatly together.
What I liked about having Boyd's perspective in Strange Country was that readers are treated to how he sees Hallie and, for me, this helped me understand her as a character. With Coates writing style I feel almost detached from the characters and their emotions, and I think that works really well with her novels, but I liked that Boyd's point of view helped to bridge that gap. For example, Boyd reflects on his relationship with Hallie and what that means:
When he first met Hallie - which hadn't been that long ago, but seemed like a lifetime, like he'd always known her or been waiting to meet her - it had been clear that she didn't need anyone. It had also been clear that she could use help, whether she knew it or not, and he'd done his best to deliver. She'd appreciated it, but she didn't look for it. Over the last few months, they'd achieved an understanding about whom to talk to and whom to look for in a crowd, and whom to call when something happened. In a way, last night felt like they were back where they'd begun. He was pretty sure that if a challenge came along, say, this afternoon, Hallie would do her damnedest to keep him away from it. Not because she didn't trust him or believe that he could help. Not even - he didn't think - because she wanted to protect him, though she probably did; he knew he wanted to protect her.
She wouldn't keep it from him because she didn't trust him. She'd do it because she didn't trust herself. (p. 140)
I loved those moments where both Boyd and Hallie reflected on their relationship. Coates rambling style brought something new to their relationship, gave it a more realistic feeling. And through Boyd I felt that I came to have a better understanding of Hallie and her actions and motivations. Boyd obviously sees something in Hallie, he sees the way she always needs to act and think about the consequences later. Boyd and Hallie never really express all that much emotion about one another, but what is conveyed seems so big despite the lack of words. Emotions in this book are always restrained, but that doesn't mean that they are not there or don't figure into Hallie and Boyd's decisions. They relationship is a subtle one and I liked how it unfolded.
The way that the author includes magic in Strange Country is also worth noting. Again, this "magic" packs such a punch not because it's overt, but rather it's the subtle and matter-of-fact way it's included in this novel that made it all the more powerful. Not only do Hallie and Boyd have to content with magical stones but also with Death's offer for Hallie - for her to take his place in the under. When I write that out it sounds so strange, but when you read this book, these elements seem like such a natural and effortless inclusion in the book. Coates' descriptions of the fantastic elements of her story are never showy, they just are. The tone the author sets permeates the entire novel. Coates' characters and world flow together perfectly.
Strange Country signals the end of the author's trilogy, and I have to say I'm disappointed to be finished with Hallie and Boyd. I loved that this trilogy was so different from the usual stuff that I read. Generally, I gravitate to the happy and light books and this series was just not the case, but it worked for me. I do see a potential for the author to continue the series; however, with the end of Strange Country further books are certainly not needed. I will definitely be recommending this series to others, and I even think there is a strong argument that this will also appeal to readers outside the fantasy genre. Strange Country was much more than a fantasy novel; it was a well crafted story that includes the fantastic so subtly that I think you can safely recommend this to a much wider audience. Anyone who enjoys books set in a small town with a mystery element will find this book readable.
I've been putting off writing this review for awhile now, as I'm not really sure how to convey in intelligible writing how much I loved Shards of HopeI've been putting off writing this review for awhile now, as I'm not really sure how to convey in intelligible writing how much I loved Shards of Hope. This book was seriously awesome and I think it just might be my favourite book in Singh's Psy-Changeling series to date, and I can now say that with authority since after finishing this one, I went back and read each book in the series that I hadn't read.
Shards of Hope is Aden's story. Aden is the leader of the Arrows, the deadly, military arm of the Psy race. For years they were the personal assassins of Councilor Ming, and now that Silence has fallen, these men and women are now free to start new lives. Aden is at the forefront of this change. He wants something different for his family and he needs to model that for them, which is why he needs a partner. Aden's chosen partner is Zaira, a damaged woman that he's known since childhood and one of his most trusted fellow Arrows. Unlike Aden, Zaira is convinced that she is not good for Aden, seeing herself as too damaged and too reliant on Silence to actually have a real relationship with another person. And when they're not dealing with relationship woes, Aden and Zaira have to content with kidnappings (their own as well as others), a new conspiracy, and building a home for the Arrows.
Shards of Hope was a book jammed pack with stuff going on. While the romance was strong here, I think the focus on other threads was equally strong, something that Singh has excelled at balancing out in this series. If fans of the series were concerned that the fall of Silence would bring this series to an end, Singh sets those fears to rest with the new conflict that she has introduced, and I couldn't be more happy to continue to expect more Psy-Changeling books.
I also really appreciated the fact that Zaira was such a strong heroine. In so many of the books in this series the hero is the one who is all possessive and overbearing. Really, if it were real life, the heroes would be creepy, and giving stalker vibes. In the case of Shards of Hope it was Zaira that was the possessive one and I have to say, I found this a refreshing change in the series as well as when I consider the romance genre at large. In romance you don't generally see a possessive heroine, that's more likely to be the characterization of the hero's ex (i.e. a characterization of a "bad" woman). It's always okay for the hero to be possessive and I really appreciated the fact that Zaira owned her possessiveness for Aden. Her traumatic past certainly informed her need to "own" Aden and I liked how the author explored this in a female character. Very well done.
Aden was a less dramatic character. He was determined to have a relationship with Zaira but he wasn't pushy about it. In fact, Aden and Zaira's romance altogether was somewhat subdued. Shards of Hope was not as steamy as some of the other books in the series, but I really liked that the author focused more on the emerging emotions of Aden and Zaira rather than the earthier side of the romance, which makes sense considering who these characters were.
Shards of Hope really hit on everything that I like about this series. I am especially keen on the Psy race since I think the concept of Silence and how it's explored, so I was more than happy that two Psy were the focus of this latest book. I am intensely curious as to which characters Singh is going to focus on next.
Nalini Singh was recommended to me by a co-worker after we raved and discussed Anne Bishop's Written in Red. Of course, I decided to start with the moNalini Singh was recommended to me by a co-worker after we raved and discussed Anne Bishop's Written in Red. Of course, I decided to start with the most recent book in Singh's Psy-Changeling series. I wanted to jump right in and the latest book to the series seemed intriguing, despite my long standing ambivalence to urban fantasy; I'm not generally an urban fantasy fan, Bishop's series being one of the exceptions. To my surprise, I loved Shield of Winter and I immediately snagged the other books in the series on my lunch break.
Shield of Winter is set in Singh's rather complex world where humans, psys and changelings all co-exist. This installment is more deeply embedded in the psy world than the changelings as the psy's are dealing with the aftermath of the fall of Silence. Silence was a protocol or way of life that stripped the emotions away from all the psy's - making for a very cold existence. Since the fall of Silence a virus has been attacking the psy's and the psy's only hope is the empaths of their race. Shield of Winter focuses on how and if the virus can be combated.
Ivy is an empath. All her life she has felt that she was defective; she was never able to rid herself of emotions under Silence. As a result, her parents have done their best to hide her from the larger world. They had succeeded, but now Ivy's help is needed. Vasic, a deadly Arrow, has been sent to get Ivy's assistance and protect her from the psy community who's looking for a scapegoat in the chaos of daily life. While many feel that the empath's are the problem, it is soon clear that the empath's are the only one's that can circumvent the virus.
I was completely blown away by the world building in this one. I've always been aware of Singh's series; there's many that rave about it on Goodreads, but I didn't know how intricate her world would be. This society that she's created was so fascinating. Each of the races in the world have such different characteristics and customs, they were so interesting to learn about. The concept of living without emotion was intriguing and I loved that the author explored how these people have to now deal with what's it like to now be able to express them without fear of reprisal.
This newly discovered emotional state was what I found so interesting about the romance between Ivy and Vasic. Ivy was an empath, so she's always been more aware of her emotional state even if she thought it made her unnatural. At the same time, she's never been in a romantic relationship in the traditional sense; it's never something that's been allowed. Cold and sterile contracts sure, but a true relationship? It just wasn't on the table for Ivy (or anyone else). Likewise, Vasic is also a psy and has also never had the experience of being in a relationship. But unlike Ivy, Vasic has undergone severe training (or torture) as an Arrow. This training has seemingly stripped him of any ability to express emotions; however, with Ivy, he learns that it's possible to be more than just a soldier or killer. It was lovely to watch these two explore their new-found emotions. They certainly had their complications and uncertainties, but this added to the overall tension of the book and made for an excellent romance.
The only thing that I struggled with in Shield of Winter was the numerous other characters that were mentioned. Overall, I think Singh did a remarkable job at making this book accessible for someone new to the series, but I definitely felt that I was missing something. Readers spent time with several other couples from previous books, and I personally felt a little lost and impatient to read their stories. I also felt a little out of touch with what life for the psy's would have been like before the fall of Silence. I've very curious about this, so it's a good thing I've tracked down the previous books in the series! This one likely would have been a five star read had I read the other books in the series (as I will be doing as soon as possible).
Shield of Winter was an outstanding read and I'm so glad that I took a chance on this series. The world is fascinating and I can't wait to learn more, although I have a sneaky feeling that I'm going to be more interested in the psy world than I will be the changelings. I don't have a lot of books to compare it to, so I would love recommendations for other similar books.
“It’s all about the soil. Out here in the scratch, we still have devilry in our dirt. Makes stitched things stay stitched.” (p. 5)
House Immortal is th“It’s all about the soil. Out here in the scratch, we still have devilry in our dirt. Makes stitched things stay stitched.” (p. 5)
House Immortal is the start of a new, futuristic series by Devon Monk. It played with the concept of Frankenstein; in this world there are twelve (and now thirteen) immortal men and women who have been stitched together. In order to save the innocent from slaughter, these twelve sold themselves into service, they are no longer considered human, but property of the highest bidder. However, the conclusion of House Immortal leaves the impression that change is imminent for these immortals, as well as society at large.
Matilda Case has been living under the radar since the death of her parents when she was a child. Ever since her brother disappeared, Matilda has been caring for her grandmother and maintaining her farm and the strange stitched creatures her father created. Matilda has always needed to maintain her privacy, she’s not like anyone else, in fact, she’s not living in the body she was born in, hers has been stitched, making her a valuable commodity when her existence is learned.
When an injured man, who is also stitched, winds up bleeding on her front porch, Matilda finds herself becoming a pawn in a much larger game. Instead of countries, the world is now ruled by houses, and all of them would very much like to control Matilda, the first modern immortal to be created.
Matilda’s mysterious visitor, Abraham Seventh, is contracted (or owned) by House Gray, the house the deals in human resources. He received a message from Matilda’s dead mother asking him to find her husband and daughter. In order to protect Matilda, Abraham brings Matilda into the heart of the conflict, which forces Matilda to claim a house and surrender her right to humanity and all the freedoms associated with it. But that certainly doesn’t mean that Matilda is going to meekly obey those who think that she is inferior, which has severe repercussions for all of the twelve.
House Immortal really wasn’t what I was expecting, but it did remind me of Monk’s Age of Steam series. While Age of Steam is a Western steampunk and House Immortal more conventionally urban fantasy, the tone in both is very much the same. Since I liked Age of Steam, I did enjoy House Immortal. That said, I did find myself underwhelmed by this novel. For a book that is filled with such big ideas, it seemly strangely lacking in passion. Even Matilda, for all her anger and thoughts of revenge, seemed a little flat to me. For a reader like me that reads primarily for the characters, I did find myself less interested in Matilda as an individual character.
What I did find myself more interested in was the futuristic world that was introduced in House Immortal. There is a lot that I feel that I do not know about this world yet, but I went in expecting that since this in the start to a series. The idea that the world is ruled by houses, or companies, is interesting and speaks to the concept of commercialization that is apparent today. House Immortal takes this commodification further by placing the control of good and services in the hands of a few, stripping away the rights of those that create these goods and provide these services. As we start to learn more about the heads of these houses this concept becomes even more unsettling considering that these people have the same petty motivations as everyone else. I thought this was a pretty interesting set up and I was eager to learn more; however, I have many questions about the viability of this world.
My other questions about this world relate to the immortals, otherwise known as the galvanized. I simply find it hard to believe that these twelve willingly gave up their humanity to save the humans that dared to rise up against the houses. I struggle to understand their motivation, especially after meeting more of them and learning that they weren't all as outwardly empathetic as Abraham is. Further, I feel confused as to how the galvanized are both revered as heroes and reviled as monsters. When Matilda first comes to Chicago she is shocked by the billboards that show off the immortals heroic feats where they are saving the lives of humans, and so was I. Why has the general public allowed for their heroes to be enslaved? How do these heroes even have the freedom to commit heroic acts? It's okay for them to save the day, but it seems that they are nothing more than objects or commodities to the public gaze. Again, this is rather disturbing and it does make you question whether or not people do critically consider what they are consuming in the media, a question I often find myself asking and one that I love seeing explored in my reading.
Ultimately, I think the fact that I have so many questions about this world will bring me back to the series. I need to know whether Matilda will be a game changer for the galvanized. Will she win these inhuman creatures back their freedom? I'm also very curious about the origins of the immortals. There are hints throughout House Immortal but nothing concrete is offered. It was a bit of a strange experience for me, being more invested in the world rather than the characters, which is the complete opposite of my usual reading experience.
The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat. (p. 6)
Vision in Silver is Bishop’s third installment in The OtherThe Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat. (p. 6)
Vision in Silver is Bishop’s third installment in The Others series and it continues to impress. I’ve been hooked on this series since book one, Written in Red and Vision in Silver continues to delve into the complex world of the Lakeside Complex and shows how the new way of life that they have adopted has repercussions for both those within the complex and those observing it.
In the third book the focus is mainly on the development of larger story arc of the humans trying to create bad press for the terra indigene, which only serves to anger the very powerful beings. Due to the plot-heavy nature of this installment, I didn’t find the character development to be as strong as it was in the previous books. In particular, Meg and Simon seem to have stagnated a bit as characters. The development of the larger conflict is essential and the fact that the terra indigene have to make some decisions was compelling, but I can't help but miss my favourite characters just a bit.
Vision in Silver picks up directly after Murder of Crows. There has been a lot of change in the relations between the humans and the terra indigene and it’s clear that the humans in direct contact with the Courtyard are intent on smearing the image of the terra indigene. The attacks that are directed at the terra indigene throw the Courtyard into turmoil. Simon and the other leaders of the Courtyard really only trusted Meg; however, as the only human in the Courtyard, Meg has slowly brought in other humans - her own "pack". The interaction between the terra indigene and the select humans are having significant repercussions. The humans that consort with the terra indigene are being denied jobs and kicked out of their homes, and their loyalty is forcing Simon to make a decision. Should he and the Courtyard stand by their human employees? And if they do support the humans how does this impact the terra indigene's identity? It’s a question that really troubles Simon:
“If the terra indigene who work in the Courtyards become to human, do we become the enemy?” (p.262)
The internal conflict in the terra indigene is what I found most compelling in Vision in Silver. There are strong reasons for why the terra indigene should not stand by their humans and the terra indigene are certainly capable of wiping humans off the map. But what’s interesting is that Simon wants to find a different path that allows the humans and the terra indigene to co-exist. Readers are show the possibility of this lifestyle, but whether its sustainable will only unfold as the series progresses.
For me, the biggest disappointment was the lack of development in the relationship between Meg and Simon. I’ve always enjoyed their awkward and endearing interactions, but they were minimal in Vision in Silver and I was hoping for more from them. That said, I think the development of the human/terra indigene conflict was extremely important since it ultimately sets the stage for any kind of relationship between Simon and Meg. So while I want certain things to happen, I certainly don't want it to be at the expense of good storytelling, which is not the case in Vision in Silver.
While Vision in Silver is no doubt an important installment in The Others series, I cannot say that it was my favourite. I appreciate it for the fact that it propels the larger conflict in the series, but it was a plot heavy read and I was missing my characters. The suspense was ramped up by the end and I can’t wait for the next book, I only wish this didn't mean a year-long wait ahead.
A bootlegger with a heart of gold.... Didn't really care for this one. Cool concept, and there were elements that I liked, just not a fan o2.5 starts
A bootlegger with a heart of gold.... Didn't really care for this one. Cool concept, and there were elements that I liked, just not a fan of the criminal trope in romance. That said, I'll still be giving the next book a shot. ...more
Mortal Danger is a new YA series from Ann Aguirre. I loved Aguirre’s Perdition and Grimspace so I was eager to see what this author could do in the YAMortal Danger is a new YA series from Ann Aguirre. I loved Aguirre’s Perdition and Grimspace so I was eager to see what this author could do in the YA world. Despite the cool concept, Mortal Danger fell flat for me. It's not you, Mortal Danger, it's me. I would have grabbed this book with two hands as a teenager, but unfortunately, I wasn't feeling the love.
When the novel opens Edie has decided to kill herself. She’s been bullied for years and she just wants a way out. Edie's a smart girl and she's thought the process through and she feels that there's no other option for her. However, when she’s about to go through with her plan, a “hot Samaritan” steps in and offers her a deal:
"In a sense, you’re already gone, Edie. If your fate wasn’t currently in limbo, I wouldn’t be permitted to talk to you. There’s a pivotal moment just before death, when bargains can be made. I’m authorized to offer you three favors now in return for three favors later” (p.12).
Edie, having no better options, decides to take Kian up on his offer. She wants revenge on the classmates that have made her years at school a nightmare and Kian tempts her with the means to make that particular fantasy a reality. Unfortunately, the revenge plot became the point where I lost interest with Mortal Danger.
Edie’s decision to get revenge was understandable, especially when I finally learned what her classmates did to her. To my mind, revenge seems like a logical reaction. What I didn’t like was the fact that Edie gets a makeover to enact her revenge. This just made me feel so sad and for the majority of the novel this decision to get a makeover seemed so shallow. The makeover trope didn’t have much depth to begin with and the only reason I kept with this book was because Ann Aguirre wrote it. While Aguirre did take something conventional and take it to a new place, it was a little too late for me. The world that Aguirre plunks Edie into was fascinating and kept me turning the pages, it was the focus on appearance that I found tiresome.
As I said, what I did like about Mortal Danger was the urban fantasy element to the book and the inclusion of mythology. Hidden from most people’s consciousness was a whole other level of the world where humans are played with like pawns. This was compelling and I was engrossed with that element of the novel. Aguirre excels at bringing creatures of myth into the her narrative, and I really enjoyed the elements of horror. There's one particular moment when the situation is starting to deteriorate for Edie. She's starting to see people and things that couldn't possibly be real, but they suddenly are. And one such moment is when Edie is home, alone. She's staring into the mirror, and...
Exhaling, I turned, started at a glimpse of myself in the mirror, then smiled in relief. My reflection did not smile back. (p. 166).
Now that is terrifying. I loved the chills and thrills in this book, my issue was that I just didn't love the characters. I wanted to get behind Edie and her revenge, but I didn't feel emotionally invested in her mission.
However, despite my apathy towards the main characters, I also recognize that this book is one that I would have devoured as a sixteen year old. In a lot of ways, the relationship between Edie and Kian reminded me of Bella and Edward from Twilight, and I gotta be honest, I loved that book when I was in high school. So my verdict for this one is that this will sell to the young adult crowd, no question about it. In my mind, Aguirre knows the audience she's writing for and wrote accordingly. I would feel no hesitation in recommending this one to teen readers.
Ultimately, Mortal Danger was not my favourite book and I likely won’t be back to read the remaining books in the series, but, that’s okay. I’m glad that I got a chance to read one of Aguirre’s young adult titles and I can understand why this one will appeal to teen readers. This will do well with the teens that like paranormal fantasy books and I will feel no hesitation in recommending it.
I've been meaning to read Starling since it came out, and I've heard wonderful things about Lesley Livingston, so at long last I got my copy2.5 Stars
I've been meaning to read Starling since it came out, and I've heard wonderful things about Lesley Livingston, so at long last I got my copy of Starling and started reading.
Mason Starling is a rising star for her private school's fencing team and she's hoping to make the national team. Practicing all that she can and crushing on her fencing partner, Cal, are pretty much her biggest concerns at the moment. She's had a seemingly charmed life, considering her dad is a millionaire; of course, these rich families always have skeletons in their closets, although Mason doesn't expect them to jump out and attack her. Or for a naked guy to fall out of a tree in the middle of the storm and fight off zombie creatures. Oh private school; where anything can happen.
It seems that Mason is a descendent and part of an ancient prophecy that spells out the end of the world. It's part of the Norse mythology for Ragnarok that states:
One tree. A rainbow bird wings among the branches. Three seeds of the apple tree, grow tall as Odin's spear is, gripped in the hand of the Valkyrie. They shall awaken, Odin Sons, when the Devourer returns. The hammer will fall down onto the earth to be reborn. (p. 98)
Apparently Mason and her brothers are part of this prophecy, although Mason is left in the dark about her ancestors while both her older brothers have the inside scoop. Instead Mason's cloistered at Gosforth Academy, where all the other students are descendents of servants for the gods of mythology. Some seem to be aware of this fact, but others, like Mason, don't have a clue. But, when this prophecy starts to unravel, Mason and others start to see some strange and monstrous characters in New York City.
Overall, I thought Starling was okay. It was entertaining and there was some funny moments, but I felt that the story wasn't original. This mythology mix has been done before and so has the prep school motif. For me, I didn't think there was really anything that stood out for me that made Starling markedly different from other stories that I've read. So while there wasn't anything really wrong with the story, I did feel that it fell flat for me because of the unoriginal theme.
I did like the characters and the writing style of the book. In my opinion there are not enough teen books that show multiple points of views. I thought this technique was extremely appropriate for Starling considering that many characters had different levels of understanding of the prophecy and the existence of magic and gods. The focus was definitely on Mason and her romantic lead, The Fennrys Wolf (a.k.a. naked guy), but I thought the inclusion of multiple points of view kept Starling interesting enough for me that I could continuing reading something that I wasn't completely invested in.
As for the secondary characters that readers get to know, I have to say I really hope we get to see a turn around with Rory Starling, Mason's middle brother. I'm getting an Edmund from Chronicles of Narnia vibe here, and I'm hoping that Rory's not all bad, although this may be wishful thinking. As for the rest of the secondary characters, I really liked Roth Starling (the eldest brother), Cal (Mason's crush), and Heather (the token gossip queen). At this point these characters are not completely fleshed out and are somewhat stereotypical, but I would love to see these characters grow a little in book 2, so fingers crossed. Because of the wide array of characters, I think Starling will have appeal to both guys and girls; however, the feminine cover may turn away some readership.
Ultimately, I liked the book, but I'm not inclined to rave about it, and I think only finishing the trilogy will tell me whether or not I'll be recommending this trilogy to friends and teen readers.
Five years ago the world changed; the gods woke. And took over Washington, D.C.??? Hearing that description, I was unsurprisingly intrigued. I'm a hugFive years ago the world changed; the gods woke. And took over Washington, D.C.??? Hearing that description, I was unsurprisingly intrigued. I'm a huge fan of Rick Riordan, so I was expecting this to be similar but geared towards a older teen audience.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra Locke is dealing with the changes to D.C. the best that she can. Her mom's left her and her dad behind, she's just broken up with her boyfriend because she doesn't want to be more than friends, oh and she just discovered her absentee father is actually an agent of an important secret society (he's not the librarian she always thought he was) and is convicted of treason. Ahh to be a teen again. So much drama...
While struggling to keep up with her parents secrets, Kyra is determined to clear her dad's name before he's sentenced to death. Along the way she meets the young (and very cute) Society operative, Oz Spencer, who she's not sure she can trust. But, honestly, when you find out your parents are part of a secret society, who can you trust?
Overall, I liked this urban fantasy; however, there were a couple of things that I had reservations about. First of all, Kyra herself. I'm not saying every female character has to be strong and Katniss-like; however, I do feel like I need to understand why they act a certain way that could be described as flighty. Kyra's obviously been through a lot with her mom leaving and her dad not being around; but, I just didn't really understand how this translated into commitment issues at seventeen. It's not like you're expected to be totally committed to a romantic relationship at that age. Even when we did get a rationale for why Kyra was behaving in that way, I felt let down and I was hoping for a bigger reason as to why she pushes people away. I felt that there was a lot of lead up to this particular trait in Kyra, and I expected a more significant reason for it.
The other aspect of the book that I felt fuzzy with was the world building. Gods in present day, I was totally on board with that. However, I still feel unclear about the god's presence in D.C. Why gods from all cultures? Why D.C.? I feel like my questions have not been answered. Due to the rather open ending, I'm assuming that this is the start of a series, and I really hope that these issues are addressed in subsequent books.
What I loved best about this one was the side characters. Kyra's friends are great, and I loved the fact that we got to see things from their side of the fence periodically. Both Bree and Tam were extremely loyal to Kyra, and they were just plain entertaining. I also liked Oz's sidekick, Justin. Justin was a great character. He's a scholarly nerd, who gets to save the day! He was another loyal friend, and it was interesting to get his take on Kyra, since he was not impressed with her, something that's unusual considering Kyra is the hero of the novel. I loved these characters and I would come back to this world for them.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't what I was expecting. If you're looking for the humour of Riordan, The Woken Gods is probably not for you. The gods in Bond's novel are scary and she tackles some pretty dark stuff, considering the ending of the novel. As I said, I would probably come back to the world, if only to get some answers!
A copy of this review with read-alikes available here.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
The Cursed is the first in a new series by Alyssa Day. Here, readers are introduced to an alternate Manhattan, Bordertown – the dimensional fold betweThe Cursed is the first in a new series by Alyssa Day. Here, readers are introduced to an alternate Manhattan, Bordertown – the dimensional fold between the human and supernatural realms. Rio Jones is a bike messenger with no apparent past, but after witnessing a kidnapping she’s thrust into the political dealings of Bordertown. Rio knows there’s only one person that she can trust to help her find the kidnapped girl – the Dark Wizard, Luke Oliver, who just so happens to be the guy who rejected her when she asked him out. The pair team up and discover a much larger concern, one the deals directly with Rio’s unknown past, and may just come at the cost of her life.
Luke Oliver agrees to help Rio against his better judgement. He likes her (really loves her, *sigh*), but he knows he should stay away since he was cursed long ago and he knows that getting entangled with Rio could activate his curse. When Luke learns that Rio’s life is in danger he will stop at nothing to protect her and in the process realizes that he wants to keep her around and will do anything to make that happen. The question is whether the fae or the demons will allow Rio to live past her twenty-fifth birthday.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this one. I really liked the premise for this urban fantasy, but in the end I found it difficult to finish the book. What I didn’t like was the pacing, as I found it was up and down constantly; it was ultimately a very uneven reading experience for me. For example, the kidnapping that instigates the plot was resolved quickly but then it was one thing after the other for Rio and Luke to confront and it came off rushed rather than action-packed. Even the relationship between the two of them was uneven and felt off kilter to me.
More like a 2.5. I think I'm in the minority here, but there's something about this series that I just find rather bland.
I feel like I am missing somMore like a 2.5. I think I'm in the minority here, but there's something about this series that I just find rather bland.
I feel like I am missing something with Jenn Bennett's prohibition era series. Everyone seems to love it, but for me, I could take it or leave it. The series has an interesting concept, but as with the previous book, I'm left feeling ambivalent.
Grim Shadows features the younger brother of the hero from book one. Lowe Magnusson is an archaeologist who's determined to make a name for himself outside of his brother, Winter's, bootlegging operation. It's not because he's opposed to the criminal way of life, Lowe's a con artist himself; what he wants is independence. How selling forgeries of ancient antiquities accomplishes that goal, I'm not sure, but to each his own.
Lowe meets curator, Hadley Bacall, after he acquires an ancient artifact that her father wants. Lowe's willing to make a deal, but of course he's also planning on swindling the Bacall's at the same time. What he doesn't count of is the true power of the artifact or his own reaction to the seemingly cool curator. How can he give Hadley a forgery when he's falling in love with her?
There were elements of Grim Shadows that I liked. The romance had a lot of promise. I liked the fact that Hadley was such a hesitant young woman. Part of it was because of her "curse", but part of it was just her personality. At first, Hadley seems like such as sad and lonely creature, but when she meets Lowe she finally starts to open up and get more comfortable in her own skin. I liked this aspect of the story. Not every heroine needs to be super confident and it was appreciated that Hadley was not always sure of herself. For me, Hadley was, by far, the more interesting character. I was always wondering why she was the way she was; I was always interested in her thought processes. As for Lowe, I just wasn't as interested.
(view spoiler)[Lowe was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. This was fun and he contrasted Hadley well, but then I got to a point where I felt that a complication was thrown in simply to make him more interesting. At one point, we learn that Lowe had a brief affair with his best friend's wife, who has since died, and to top it off, their kid just might be his. This seemed to come out of no where! He interacted with said kid several of times but there was never one mention of this and for something so significant, it seemed like the revelation should have come sooner, at least for readers, and I think it would have made Lowe a stronger character. From my point of view, this "secret child" trope seemed tossed in and made me think of Lowe as a artificial character and less developed than Hadley. (hide spoiler)]
While the plot was interesting, generally I'm reading a book for the characters and their interactions, and there was just something keeping me back from really enjoying Grim Shadows. The romance was almost there, but in the end, I just felt "meh" about the relationship between Lowe and Hadley. I think part of it is also the fact that Lowe, and his brother from Bitter Spirits, are both essentially criminals. For whatever reason, this bugs me. It irked me in book one, and I irked me in Grim Shadows. Sometimes these criminal character works in books, and in Grim Shadows and Bitter Spirits, it just didn't, at least for me. The world is interesting, it's the characters that make me disinterested.
Review on my blog. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Bite Me was an interesting little romance novella that looks to be part of a series. A zombie plague has broken out in London, plunging the city intoBite Me was an interesting little romance novella that looks to be part of a series. A zombie plague has broken out in London, plunging the city into chaos. Maisie is on her own in the city trying to make it day by day when she encounters Seth during a zombie attack. Complicating matters is the fact that Seth is a werewolf. Ever since the zombie plague has started, werewolves have come into the public eye to help patrol the streets of London. Seth happens to be the leader of London wolves and is patrolling when he comes to Maisie’s aid.
Maisie and Seth are immediately drawn to one another; however, with the whole plague thing going on, romance can be a little hard to come by. But the pair make due and Seth ends up being rather sweet to Maisie. I did find the romance to be a little rushed, I always find it a little odd when people have such strong feelings about each other in such a short period of time – but since it’s a novella I’m not going to complain. Plus, I really liked Seth and how he was determined to win Maisie.
One thing that was hard to get used to was the language that Seth and Maisie use. They’re both from London, so they use modern slang and since I’m not from London, it was something I had to get used to.
Overall, I enjoyed this one, and I’ll be on the lookout for the next one in the series. I would like to see how Seth and Maisie’s relationship progresses and it would be great to meet some of the other supernatural creatures that are presumably in this urban fantasy world.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley....more