This book is about dragons! DRAGONS!! How excite!!
Dragons have been hiding amongst us for centuries, using their shifting abilities to choose human foThis book is about dragons! DRAGONS!! How excite!!
Dragons have been hiding amongst us for centuries, using their shifting abilities to choose human forms and assimilate with us. They get jobs as high ranking CEOs in our world, or return to TALON after their assimilation training to take up the fight against the Order of St. George, who have sworn to eliminate all blood-thirsty dragons from our world.
The world-building is commendable, and I loved getting to know the different techniques the dragons and the warriors of St. George have employed to stay hidden from humans. Some of it is clunky: there's no real explanation of why there aren't any female warriors in the Order of St. George, except that the lot of them are still two centuries behind everyone else. The Order doesn't really have any technological advantage over humans either, which made me wonder why they don't just set up fronts as security agencies or military support to increase their access to technology. And the dragons don't get off easily either, but we'll get to that later.
Let's talk about the protagonists. We have Ember (who predictably has red hair), a dragon hatching (teenaged dragon!) who is learning to assimilate herself with humans before she can be assigned the job she will be doing for TALON for the rest of her life. She is undergoing training with her brother Dante, and they are unusual because dragons usually only give birth to one hatchling at a time. And then we have Garret (Garret Xavier Sebastian), a renowned soldier in the Order of St. George who basically cannot think for himself and has no life outside of killing dragons until he is sent to observe a group of teens, one of whom is suspected of being a dragon in disguise.
They begin rather stereotypically, with Garret being unable to make small-talk and not knowing how to behave at a party, and Ember being fiery and impetuous without really understanding (or caring) that the consequences of her actions are dire. While Garret went on to become interesting, Ember was just became whiny. Basically she didn't want to learn how to be a dragon and defend herself against attacks of the Order, which seems ridiculous considering how everyone around her is constantly harping on about the dangers the Order pose to dragons. I don't understand how she could be so unconcerned about her safety and her future. She also doesn't like the idea of being given a job for the rest of her life (which is fair enough) but she has no idea what job she's going to get so there seems to be no reason for her to rebel... yet. What if they'd picked the perfect job for her and she'd have loved it and would want to do it for the rest of her very long life?
Also, I smell a love triangle. There is the added complication of Riley, who is a rogue dragon. He just basically meanders into the plot and confuses everyone, but oddly I thought he was the most rounded-out and consistent character.
The romance in Talon totally creeped me out. It was sweet and made my heart flutter at times, but then I'd remember that Ember is a totally different species to Garret and the feeling would sour. Why? Because usually the paranormal romance sticks to sub-human creatures: vampires or werewolves or shifters etc who were once human, and can sometimes be human again. But Talon is a story about dragons who disguise themselves as humans! Even romances between humans and humanoid aliens aren't as creepy as this situation, which vividly and nauseatingly reminds me of the myth of Pasiphae falling in love with the white bull and coupling with it by hiding inside a wooden cow, giving birth to the Minotaur. Ember is a CREATURE hiding inside a human-looking body, and she's falling in love with a human. *shudder* All the creepy. All at once.
OH OH. There's something even more awkward. Ember is a dragon wearing a human disguise, right? So she's still a dragon. She's not half-human like werewolves, she was never a human like vampires. SO WHY THE HELL DOES SHE HAVE A HUMAN SIDE AND A DRAGON SIDE? Her human side is attracted to Garret because of his perfect perfection and YA hero smirk and leather jacket, and her dragon side is attracted to Riley's dragon (called Cobalt). Her dragon side doesn't like Garret but gets over-excited any time Riley is around, responding to his innate dragon-ness. Ember's inner dragon (yuck!) shudders and ripples and does all sorts of odd, vaguely sexual things when Riley is around. I found it disturbing.
As I mentioned earlier, dragons claim to be emotionless. Or at least unsentimental: we're told in the first chapter many times that dragons don't show emotion, don't say hello and goodbye, and generally stick to business without socialising much. We're told dragons are solitary, and do not fall in love, even when they mate. These are all biological claims about a whole species, that the dragons themselves are making (I'm leaving out all the misconceptions the Order of St. George have about the creatures that have sworn to eliminate). So when our main character starts emoting all over the place, I call it inconsistency. Oh sure, it wouldn't have been much of a fun book if there wasn't a forbidden romance, but it made no sense at all for a number of reasons.
Kagawa has chosen to tell this story in alternating first-person points of view. Part 1 only features chapters narrated by Ember and Garret, but Part 2 introduces Riley's perspective as well, firmly cementing his placed as Boy 2 in the love-triangle of impending doom. I think this style worked very well, because it allowed us to become familiar with the stakes of the three groups: the dragons in TALON, the soldiers of St George, and the rogue dragons. Even though the characters themselves were problematic for me, I liked being inside their heads.
So. Talon could have amazed. I'm really disappointed with it because Kagawa did incredible things by subverting everything we knew about vampires and dystopia with The Blood of Eden series, but in Talon we've gone back to mediocre (and annoying) characters and shaky world-building that made me dislike the Iron Fey books. I'll be sticking with the series, because I think (hope) it can be salvaged and because I can't resist dragon stories, but I am left disappointed considering how excited I was about it.
Becca provides a unique service at her school: she breaks up couples for $100 via PayPal. She calls herself The Break-Up Artist, and is always there tBecca provides a unique service at her school: she breaks up couples for $100 via PayPal. She calls herself The Break-Up Artist, and is always there to help girls get their best-friends back after they’re ditched for boys or popularity.
There are two reasons that Becca has such a toxic view of relationships. The first is that her best-friend Huxley ditched her to go out with a quarterback and become the most popular girl in school, and the second is that her sister Diane was dumped on her wedding day. It’s completely understandable why Becca thinks romance is a waste of time and that she’s doing a good thing by breaking up these couples for their friends – love makes people pretend to be something they’re not.
But even knowing this didn’t make Becca very likeable for me. I just don’t understand why she didn’t realise how destructive her behaviour was sooner – she mentions she’s seen broken up couples be really sad in the cafeteria but is still remorseless.
Of course, Becca’s stance on relationships change when she starts falling for her best-friend’s boyfriend.
This story isn’t new. It’s been told many times before (the author even mentions movies like My Best Friend’s Wedding as an inspiration), but what’s interesting is the way Siegel tells this story. He chooses the point of view of a girl who is clueless about all types of relationships: between friends, between lovers, and even between siblings.
However, I still find it very hard to believe that “Mr Towne” would hire Becca to break up the most popular couple at her school – her ex-best-friend Huxley and the quarterback Simon. Even if there is someone called The Break-Up Artist at a school, an adult (and especially an adult in the position of power that Towne is revealed to be in) has many tools they can use without resorting to a teenager. The pressure he puts on Becca to break up the couple is unrealistic as well – the threats, bribes and cajolery didn’t seem like an adult interacting with a teen, but rather two very stupid, immature teens who can’t tell where high school drama ends and the real world begins.
The Break-Up Artist isn’t a groundbreaking narrative, but this 2014 début offers a light, fun read about relationships that many audiences will enjoy. There are hints to a sequel and I’ll be coming back to see how Becca grows and whether her friendship with Huxley can be saved.
Ok, so I know that a solar flare killed off almost everyone on earth. There were two hundred people in the (UI don’t actually know what happened here.
Ok, so I know that a solar flare killed off almost everyone on earth. There were two hundred people in the (US?) army. There are ten people left in the world, with type O blood. I don’t actually know what the adults do now, but the kids go to school (that’s right, they’re in SCHOOL!).
Not Hermia though. I think she was a dancer in a strip club? Maybe.
Anyway, Hermia, Nate and a bunch of other kids (aged 17-20) are kidnapped and then put into a freakishly lavish training centre and trained. To kill the people who are threatening the life of the President (of the US?), or to protect the President, or maybe both. Except that their training includes being killed, almost killed, and maimed frightfully. I’m not entirely sure how that works either.
The story is told in dual point of view by Hermia and Nate, who (thankfully) aren’t destined to be romantically involved. I liked Nate a lot, but Hermia was really annoying. She judges anything and everything around her, no one is ever good enough for her. She’s got issues. Any display of emotions makes her want to vomit, the charming thing she is. Nte was much more enjoyable to read about. He’s level-headed and cares for the people around him – a natural born leader.
The romances in this book are oddly clinical. I didn’t feel any passion or fire, Nate and Hermia just saw people and fell in insta-love. Oh, and there was a bizarre obsession with eyes: everyone was either falling into eyes or captured by eyes. Eyes changed colour, pupils dilated, darkened with desire etc. Eyes, eyes everywhere. Actually, I remember thinking at one point that Marina was just a pair of blue eyes to Nate, maybe with lips attached for kissing. (Har har, I’m funny).
But the biggest let down of this book wasn’t the world-building or the romances, it was the oddly clunky plotting. I really don’t have a clue what was going on most of the time. Some of the kids died in the training and many of them sustained horrible injuries. It really made no sense if they were kidnapped to be the heart of some rebellion or protection detail. Also, they were just walking around and they stumbled on the headquarters of the bad guys. Moreover, the climactic battle was very confusing, with people running everywhere and getting themselves captured or killed, and then the captured people were rescued in increasingly unrealistic fashions. And the ending really, really confused me.
I was liking the book while I was reading it – there was certainly a lot going in – and I guess I’d assumed that everything would eventually become clear. Except it didn’t. So when I turned the last page, I was mostly disappointed. Enmity left me very confused, and ultimately I didn’t enjoy it much at all.
Captivate is an ambitious novel, and although I saw a lot of potential in the blurb, I have to confess I'm mostly disappointed by it.
Here is the premiCaptivate is an ambitious novel, and although I saw a lot of potential in the blurb, I have to confess I'm mostly disappointed by it.
Here is the premise of Captivate: Marko is the king of an under-water settlement of humans, and he's usurped his psychotic elder brother Damir's throne. His people can no longer reproduce, a side effect of living underground with no sunlight and other things that humans generally need to survive. His elder sister, and Damir's twin, suggests kidnapping a girl from the surface to be Marko's queen, bringing in fresh blood and allowing him to produce an heir, which will secure his claim to the throne.
All my problems with this novel stem from that basic premise. The Marin to have surprisingly archaic laws given that the first settlers of this underground city were some of the brightest and most progressive minds of their time. It doesn't make sense to me that they would reproduce the kinds of laws that made living underwater so attractive to in the first place. The postulation that Marko needs to produce an heir to keep his throne is ridiculous - although he has deposed his elder brother, it's been well established that basically no one wants the psycho who likes to experiment on his citizens to turn them into merpeople as the King. It also implies that if Drake could find a human and reproduce with her, his claim to the throne would become stronger. It seems like the lawmakers of the Marin really stuffed up on this one.
The second thing that baffles me about this book is the apparent need to kidnap a non-Marin girl and force her to become Queen so that she can produce an heir. Just having Miranda there, and maybe having a baby, doesn't solve the issue: all the other Marin couples will still not be able to reproduce. But even before this inconsistency, there's the very idea that kidnapping a human girl is the best way to go about solving the issue of Marko's heirs. It's mentioned that Marko goes to the surface every month to trade pearls for supplies that his people need (very ill-considered, given that his brother apparently poses a threat) and I can't see why he couldn't also go to the surface to seduce a girl Edward-Cullen-style into living with him as his Queen. I also can't see why they couldn't just steal genetic material from a fertility clinic or similar. Yes it's barbaric and morally wrong, but a community who sees nothing wrong with regularly tossing people to sharks and kidnapping a 16 year old girl can hardly cling to that reasoning. The only explanation given in the book is the requirement of marriage before producing a baby, which is ludicrous anyway considering the baby will be created in a test tube.
So the world-building could be significantly improved on. What about the rest of the book? The characters are predictable and bland, the romances are flat, and there is barely anything that kept my interest.
Miranda is this naive, blundering, self-pitying character that I couldn't like at all, but I did grudgingly admire her determination to escape her imprisonment. She examines her room for weaknesses and hidden exits, puts all her strength into breaking the one vent she sees in her room, and makes many attempts at escaping, which I applauded. However, her motivations for escape seem to hinge on her need to reveal some dark secret to her sister concerning the night of their parents' death. When she does make it back and tell her sister the secret (which wasn't even a secret, it was absolutely anti-climactic), Miranda immediately starts thinking "well that's done, now I want to return to the weird underwater people who kidnapped me and kept me against my will for six weeks and tried to force me to become their Queen so they could harvest my reproductive material". Yeah. She doesn't even think of trying to reconnect and bond with her sister, doesn't resolve to spend more time with her family to appreciate them, in the light of her absence and how close she was to never see them again. Nope. Miranda's raring to go back and spend time with the two boys she's met while she'd been kidnapped.
The romance in the novel is uncomfortably reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome and I had a hard time believing any of it. Robbie is my favourite character from the book, and when his feelings for Miranda blurred between friendship and something more I was a little excited, but predictably Miranda finds herself falling for Marko as well. Marko is quick to anger and violence, and really quite scary, but yes, let's all fall for him because he's incredibly handsome, and forget the part where he puts his best friend in a shark tank.
So, I didn't much like Captivate: it could have been a lot better. In particular, the world needs a lot more thought behind it, the characters could have been more developed, and the plot more refined. But a lot of other people have liked it, and if you pick it up, I hope you do too :)
It was delightful to get back to Yelena and Valek after so long, and Shadow Study proves that the magic of some worlds and their characters only strenIt was delightful to get back to Yelena and Valek after so long, and Shadow Study proves that the magic of some worlds and their characters only strengthens with time. This book is a wonderful beginning to a kick-ass new series that introduces us to a new threat, some new characters, and reacquaints us with all our favourites.
Shadow Study begins almost immediately after Spy Glass. Valek and Yelena are looking forward to spending some time together before he returns to the Commander after a long absence when everything goes to hell. Although they are separated for almost the entire novel, the connection between Yelena and Valek is so strong that it permeates the story. They've been together for years now and their commitment and love shines through. They've always been a strong couple and I really enjoyed their journey in this book.
As amazing as they are as a couple, Yelena and Valek are also great independently. Yelena's reputation as a Soulfinder has helped her a lot, and she takes her job as the liaison between Ixia and Sitia very seriously. She has strong relationships with those around her, including favourites like Lief, Mara, Opal, Devlen, and the Magicians Bain and Irys, who all rally to help her when she needs it. Valek has also strengthened his relationships, not only with the Commander, but with Ari, Janco, and Maren as well. Valek's storyline is particularly interesting in Shadow Study because Snyder uses a series of flashbacks to show us how he ended up killing the King of Ixia and becoming the Commander's right-hand man. This means that readers get to know how Valek became an assassin (including training sequences!), and about his earlier jobs.
Shadow Study uses three points of view to tell its story - Yelena's in first person, and Valek and Janco's in third. Readers get a very rounded view of the story and experience Yelena's fear and helplessness as the mysteriously loses her magic, Valek's increasing disillusionment with the Commander and his position in Ixia, and Janco's unique blend of intelligence, humour, and temper. I think the points of view worked well and enjoyed how each chapter ended on a cliffhanger, although it was a bit stressful!
Speaking of cliffhangers, this books ends on one that will distress most readers!
It saddens me to say that I think Shadow Study is let down by its plotting. Although it's an interesting read, and one I didn't want to put down because I was enjoying being with old favourites again, when I finished the book I couldn't deny that not very much had happened, and that what had happened was quite predictable. The magic of this book is definitely in getting back to this world and its characters, and not in the plotting of the story itself. Some of the decisions Yelena and Valek took made no sense at all, and it took too long for them to realise that their individual missions were connected.
I didn't have a problem with the languid pace of the book as Snyder increased tension by ending each chapter with a cliffhanger, I but tired of the repetitive conversations Yelena had with everyone she met. Valek's flashbacks, while extremely interesting, tended to break the flow of the story because he would suddenly slip into them and then abruptly come back to himself.
I really enjoyed Shadow Study. I loved reading a new story about Yelena, Valek, and their friends, and am excited to see where this series goes. The magic that was in the original series isn't reproduced here, but honestly, I think Snyder would find it hard to recreate the atmosphere of Poison Study. Fans of the Ixia/Sitia books, particularly the original Study series, will devour Shadow Study, but this book will be enjoyed by new readers as well. References to past events are handled well and the story stands alone admirably, although new readers are warned that this book contains spoilers for the earlier Study and Glass books.
It could have gone wrong at a dozen different points, but Shultz deserve all the praise for keeping The Dark World classy anThis book guys. This book.
It could have gone wrong at a dozen different points, but Shultz deserve all the praise for keeping The Dark World classy and largely devoid of the tropes I dislike in YA.
This story world is awesome. There are ghosts and demons and warlocks and had demons and warlocks, and people with wings. Wings!
It was never confusing and the author took the time to make sure everything was internally consistent. I think we should have spent a little more time exploring the Dark World, but I guess that’s what the sequels are for.
Let’s talk about our protagonist. Paige Kelly saved a little boy from getting squished in an accident, and was technically dead for a minute until she was brought back by doctors. The experience has left her with the ability to see and talk to ghosts. This has serious consequences: she’s put on antipsychotics and her parents are really worried about her, and she doesn’t have any friends at school (where they call her Bellevue Kelly, being the charming teenagers they are). Well she’s got one friend: Dottie, a ghost who committed suicide in the 1950s.
Paige is the kind of girl I like to read about. She’s not whiny and makes the best of every situation. She managed to go through this whole book without putting herself, or those around her, in danger because she didn’t take two seconds to think. Although her parent’s overbearing nature got on her nerves, she recognised that it came from a place of love and worry, which most story-book teens seem to overlook.
I have a teensy crush on the romantic lead in The Dark World. Logan is all sorts of hot and amazing. Great looks and demon slaying aside, my favourite thing about him is that he cares for Paige. He doesn’t emotionally manipulate her. He listens to her. He trains her so she can defend herself against demons instead of making her rely on him all the time. He respects her parents. He protects her. So yeah, I was a little (OK, a lot) swoony over him throughout the book.
I also liked the friendship between Paige and Dotty, and Paige’s relationship with her parents. I love that all these people were positive influences of Paige’s life.
The plotting of the book surprised me for a number of reasons. I thought it was going to have this horrible love-triangle in it, and then it didn’t (props to the author for that red herring). I had guesses for how this book would play out, and was pleasantly surprised at almost every turn. My only disappointment is that I guessed Logan’s secret a while before Paige (actually I thought it was so obvious that when it was brought up again I was really confused, because I thought we’d already established THE THING I CAN’T TALK ABOUT).
I really liked this book, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. I have Shultz’s other series, Spellbound, and am looking forward to reading it. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill paranormal story, and I’m very glad I picked it up :)
Take Me On felt very samey - it felt like Crash Into You with mixed martial arts instead of drag racing.
IHere there be spoilers. You have been warned.
Take Me On felt very samey - it felt like Crash Into You with mixed martial arts instead of drag racing.
In fact, it didn't really even feel like Crash Into You because I believed where Crash Into You was coming from and I found this whole book utterly unbelievable.
My main issue with the characters. They both failed to inspire me in any way. Haley's father has lost his job and they are now living with her abusive uncle and her cousin Jax. Inexplicably, Haley's decided that it's her fault, and takes the weight of her family's fate on her shoulders. Her brother, cousin, and grandfather all hate her because she left the family owned gym to go train at a rival gym with her boyfriend, who turned out to be the biggest mistake of Haley's young life so far. I think the author tried to make these training gyms teen versions of street gangs, but I don't think it worked. I don't actually believe that all the men in Haley's family would stop talking to her if she trained at a different gym. Being angry and feeling betrayed, yes, but to stop talking to her? To care for her so little that they didn't see bruises on her face when she was beaten up, not once, but twice? I didn't believe that, not when it was apparently so easy for West to see the bruises that she tried to cover up with make-up.
I don't think Haley had any personality - she was just this cliché of a girl who liked a traditionally male sport and had family issues that made no sense.
However, West wasn't any better. I could have tolerated Haley, but I loathed West. West is Rachel's brother (Rachel from Crash Into Me), and when she has that accident, he decides it's all his fault. I will never forgive this character for making his sister's accident all about him. He couldn't see that Rachel might need the support of her entire family: Rachel had one fight with him and West took childishly took that to mean that they were to live the rest of their lives without being in the same room. The idiot.
West claims to have a lot of respect for women: he even tries to convince readers that Kaden and Jax do not respect Haley as he does. But his actions run counter to his words. Firstly, he stole from Rachel, which is despicable. Secondly, he tells Haley they're in a relationship. He doesn't ask, he doesn't make sure she's OK with it. They've crossed the line from friendship and West says "You need time, and that's fine, but we're no longer pretend dating. Not sure what it is, but we're more than that. Thought it'd be simpler if I made that clear." I don't know why Haley didn't beat him up to within an inch of his life. He didn't even give her a choice, and then did the same thing again towards the end of the book. He also teases Haley a lot to see her blush, but when we're in his head, he makes it clear that he stops not because he's making her uncomfortable, but because he remembers that she can beat him up and he "has a healthy respect for that". The implication being that if she couldn't beat him up, he'd keep going.
I also disliked the roles of the parental figures in this book, or rather, the lack of any positive parental figures in either Haley or West's life. I'm getting sick of reading about absent parents, evil parents, or some lethal combination of both. So I didn't like that Haley had parents who apparently couldn't care less about her; that West's father could throw him out of their home and not go looking for him (but stalk him using the GPS on his car, the creep); and that West's mother (who I hated in the last book) didn't even realise he wasn't living at home. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with all the parents in McGarry's world!
Other things I didn't like (briefly) include the unwarranted emphasis on the fact that Haley wasn't a virgin but West was (although the role reversal was great, the way Haley, and West, felt about her earlier relationships was not cool); how West hated Isaiah for no discernible reason (except for his own misunderstanding of what was going on between Rachel and him), and West's refusal to see the parallels in how far Isaiah was willing to go for Rachel and how West himself felt about Haley, wanting to stand up to her brother, cousin, father, and grandfather; and generally, how both Haley and West were unable to see those around them as PEOPLE, with hopes and dreams and secret and AGENCY, and thus blamed themselves irrationally for things that were utterly beyond their control.
I liked the plot of Take Me On but did find it very predictable. The sub-plots were a lot more interesting than the story about West and Haley, who had all the chemistry of floor-mops, especially those involving the mysterious Abby, and that of the bartender.
Books like this rely heavily on the reader sympathising with and liking the main characters. I disliked both of them, and loathed West in particular. So I didn't like Take Me On. I don't think I'll be picking up future books in this series unless they're about Noah and Echo (like the next one, Breaking the Rules), or Abby.
I have loved every moment of my time with Allison, and although I am sad to let her go, I think The Forever Song concludes the Blood of Eden series veI have loved every moment of my time with Allison, and although I am sad to let her go, I think The Forever Song concludes the Blood of Eden series very well. I think Kagawa, who set out to tell a completely different kind of story by combining the best of vampire fiction and dystopian settings, has achieved it masterfully.
This is one of the few series where I liked the second book as much as the first, and so I approached The Forever Song with some trepidation: it was either going to blow my mind or I was doing to be disappointed.
It. Blew. My. Mind.
My favourite thing about this book, actually the series, is that it hasn’t shied away from the horrible aspects of being a vampire. This isn’t a story about romanticised vampires who can control themselves around humans easily. This is a story about humans who know they’re monsters, that they have to feed and sometimes kill the very things they once were, and they struggle with it every single day. With her only link to humanity, Zeke, gone, Allison gives in to the monster inside her, and first part of the book is very dark and haunting.
(view spoiler)[Readers know that Zeke is alive, however, and so when they inevitably meet up the author explores another side of their vampirism. Whereas it had always been Zeke trying to convince Allie that she wasn’t a monster, now their roles are reversed and it’s interesting to see. Some readers will think Zeke is too whiny once he’s been rescued, but I think Kanin raises an excellent point when he reminds Allison that at least she got to choose to become a vampire. Zeke was forcibly turned into a creature he despised, and Human Zeke wanted to die rather than be Turned. (hide spoiler)]
Kanin has basically been my favourite character throughout the series, and he again steals the show in The Forever Song. He’s funny without meaning to be (which is awesome) and he balances the snark and angst of the rest of the party very well.
Our favourite characters are on a quest in this book: to find Sarren and stop him from releasing a mutated form of the Red Lung virus and destroying the cure that the people of New Eden have developed. There’s quite a bit of walking, some driving, and A LOT of Jackal and Allison bitching and moaning at one another. The dynamic in the group becomes comical because of this: it’s like Kanin is taking his two kids and their friend on a trip, except the siblings keep fighting and he has to step in as the stern father.
Disappointingly, I can’t say anything in the book really surprised me this time around: I seemed to always guess what was coming before the characters did. It didn’t really detract from my reading experience, but I do so love to be surprised by what’s happening in stories and it just didn’t happen throughout The Forever Song.
I love the Blood of Eden series. It’s reinvented and revitalised two genres: vampire and dystopian fiction, and I have come to love the characters and their journey. I think The Forever Song provides a fitting end the story and will leave readers hopeful that the characters will have a brighter future ahead of them. I recommend this series to everyone who thinks it sounds interesting, and encourage those who didn’t enjoy The Iron Fey books to give it a try, because they are very different.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review. You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I strongly believe the first scene of a novel, the first paragraph, hey, even the first words, absolutely set the tone for the rest of the book. So yoI strongly believe the first scene of a novel, the first paragraph, hey, even the first words, absolutely set the tone for the rest of the book. So you can imagine what I was thinking when the first words of King Hall were "Sex Education" and the first scene was an awkward, terribly clichéd sex ed class where the teacher proudly proclaimed that Mystics (who are supernaturally gifted) are better endowed than their human (Common, or Com) counterparts, and brandished two differently sized bananas around to make her point.
Yup, I basically thought this book was going to be about the main character doing the dirty with everyone in sight. Especially since in the first chapter, she couldn't go two minutes without reminding us how awesome that aspect of her private life was. Imagine my surprise, then, to not find a single explicit sexual encounter, and further-more, no make-out scenes between the 4 protagonists.
The book is set in a world like ours, but where supernaturals are out in the open. There four different types of Mystic: Vampire, Shifter, Elemental and Mage, and each has a King (or Queen) who rules them for 20 years before choosing a successor. King Hall follows the four newest Prodigies as undergo leadership training. It's like college - there's drinking and dancing and sex - but everything is more complicated where magic is involved. Lily, our main protagonist and the future Shifter ruler, doesn't want to be the future Queen, not only because she's a hybrid and will be condemned to death if anyone finds out.
King Hall suffers mostly from being too vague: I don't understand why the Mystics all school together but romantic entanglement isn't allowed, and thus don't really quite get what the big deal is with Lily's secret, especially since everyone who finds out doesn't care. I don't understand the King system and what, exactly, is expected of a ruler of a class of Mystic. I don't understand the mating magic, and like Lily, struggled with how little choice there seemed to be in the matter. There are a lot of world building elements that the author sneaks past readers by being hand-wavy, or by making it so complex you begin to think that it must make sense, and you're missing something.
I feel the novel is let down because it doesn't feel plausible: why would the announcement of the successors of the current Kings occur in a school gymnasium? Why do the four of them still have to pretend to attend school (they all graduate with college diplomas, but after they were announced as successors, I don't remember them attending class, except when they learnt self-defence). I'd have also thought, that as heir apparents, they would have had a lot more security than they seemed to have around them, and that, in Lily's case especially, there would be rules in place to prevent intimate relationships between the guard and the person they're meant to protect.
But the book perked up when the four future leaders of the Mystics, two women and two men, are forced to train together. Their friendship is amazing, and I think it's one of the strongest messages in the novel: the importance of friendship and loyalty in the face of everything else. But because Mystics traditionally don't get along, their bonds are treated with mistrust by their future subjects, and things get a little awkward. I thought, with the four of them spending so much time together, that there would be awkward romantic tension and what-not, but the author handles it well with the mysterious mating magic rendering cheating impossible, and the only two unattached members of the group hiding too many secrets to be romantic.
That's not to say there isn't romance in the novel, because there is! But it takes a back seat to the friendships between our characters, and their journey to learn how to govern their peoples well, combine their magics to achieve goals, and generally learn the ways of the world they are going to eventually watch over. There are bawdy jokes aplenty though, and although some made me laugh, many were cringe-worthy. I also think that the author tried to make the blood exchanges between the characters sexy, but I mostly found them awkward. For example, Lily's unusually small stature amongst the Mystics was an interesting quirk, until it led to her having to assume increasingly intimate positions with her partners to exchange blood - then it felt a bit contrived. And there's an exchange scene right at the end that honestly confused me more than anything else, because ... well you'll have to read it to see what I mean.
I also liked the introduction to the politics of the world the author has created. The tensions between the Coms and the Mystics. It feels a bit archaic (especially when a political marriage was briefly on the cards) and I'd really like to find out more. I would have also liked a bit more insight into the Com state of mind. I don't understand why the races don't get along, although the Coms being threatened by the Mystics and their powers is certainly plausible.
Overall, I found King Hall to be enjoyable. It could have been better, but there is a lot to like about Dawn's début, and I will keep an eye out for future books in the series. King Hall leaves the story open to a sequel, and I'd love one so I could learn more about the world, but mostly it's been exciting to read an NA novel that's not centred on sex.
I don't know if I enjoyed The Sparrow as much as The First - I think it deals with weightier issues, and in such a short book, it feels disjointed andI don't know if I enjoyed The Sparrow as much as The First - I think it deals with weightier issues, and in such a short book, it feels disjointed and stilted. Whereas The First is about the very first person who comes back from the dead, The Sparrow deals with the darker side of the phenomenon.
When Heather and Matt find a little girl who's been Returned, Matt is more interested in studying her - hoping to be the first person to crack their mysteries, than taking care of her. Heather just wants to reunite the girl with her parents, and the couple clash repeatedly. There are large gaps in time throughout the novella - a technique the author has obviously had to apply in order to tell the whole story in such a short space. However, this means that we don't get to see the relationship between Tatiana and Heather grow, we just have to accept the author's word that it happened.
Matt is such a jerk, and he infuriated me a lot! Which I think is great, because it can be difficult for authors to ensure their characters in their short stories make an impact. I think it's safe to say that Jason Mott is a talented author! I'm really looking forward to reading the full length novel set in this world.
This novella, alongside The First, forms a gentle introduction into the world of The Returned, and is just enough to whet one's appetite for the highly anticipated release. I know I can't wait!
This novella is so sweet! It follows Edmund Blithe, who blithely turns up to work, alive and well, exactly a year after his death. Chaos ensues, and sThis novella is so sweet! It follows Edmund Blithe, who blithely turns up to work, alive and well, exactly a year after his death. Chaos ensues, and soon he's being questioned by government officials and hounded by the media. But he has no answers - he can't even remember being dead. According to his memory, he proposed to his girlfriend, Emily, a few days ago, and all he wants to do is see her again.
Emily has spent the last year trying to forget the man who died the day after he proposed to her. She's stopped wearing the ring, and is finally moving on, when he miraculously comes back from the dead. I felt like I got to know Emily really well in the brief time I was able to spend with her - she's a strong character who literally flies off the page. I feel that Edmund isn't as strong, but I think that the author captured his bewilderment and craving for normalcy well.
This prequel novella forms a great introduction into the mysterious phenomenon at the heart of Jason Mott's The Returned, and the couple have the cutest, cutest story. I hope we get to see how they're coping in The Returned.
Katie McGarry continues to write amazing, heartwarming stories in Crash Into You, and this time she's finally given us bad-boy Isaiah's story. I lovedKatie McGarry continues to write amazing, heartwarming stories in Crash Into You, and this time she's finally given us bad-boy Isaiah's story. I loved this book - it even made me a little teary - and I can't wait for the next one, Take Me On.
Speed. It's what I crave. I can race the emotions away.
Isaiah's got problems: he can't help Noah and Echo pay the rent, he's heartbroken over Beth abandoning him, and his mother has just walked back into his life after eleven years. In the midst of all the chaos he meets Rachel, whose life seems perfect from the outside, but is just as broken and difficult as Isaiah's on the inside. Rachel was born to replace a sister who died of Leukaemia. She tries her utmost best to emulate this stranger who's the only reason she exists, but she couldn't be more different on the inside. Coupled with panic attacks that remind her parents of what they lost and the fragility of their daughters, Rachel's life is utterly miserable, as are the lives of her four brothers - two old enough to remember her dead sister, and two who were conceived because her mother kept trying until she had another girl.
Isaiah and Rachel are absolutely smitten for each other from their first meeting, which smacks too much of insta-love for my liking, but they won me over by how devoted they are to one another. They are bound by their love of cars and speed, and their very sweet relationship blossoms under the unlikeliest of circumstances: they are both wanted by a street thug and have six weeks to come with the money he's demanding from them. They have their individual hang ups as well: Rachel's over-bearing and over-protective family and Isaiah's past, but their mutual love for another is never in doubt. Which is refreshing, because too many books focus on faux relationship drama brought on by ex-girlfriends and female friends, keeping secrets and generally no communication between the couple, which doesn't happen here.
Not only does this novel provide long glimpses into Noah and Echo's lives, and even Beth's, it also features quite the cast of secondary characters. Each of Rachel's brothers distinct and well painted, and Isaiah's friends, including Abby and Logan, are very interesting as well. Of them all, I love Abby the best - her quirky, sometimes abrasive friendship is just what the book needs to balance out the dire situation Rachel and Isaiah are in. The best part - Take Me On is about West, one of Rachel's brothers.
The plotting is superb in Crash Into You - I didn't want to put it down! I just had to know what happened next, and every time I thought, OK at the end of this chapter I'll go to sleep, I kept reading! I went to sleep at 1:30AM, after I'd turned the last page. I just couldn't get enough of the adrenaline filled racing scenes and the amazing romance. I think the book is well crafted, and of all three books in the series, the best in terms of plot, pacing and writing.
Of all the complex and weighty issues that Crash Into You tackles, including bad parenting, illegal activities, increased responsibilities when growing up, and the importance of the people you consider your family, blood relations notwithstanding, the one that made an impact on the most is the thoughtful examination of what happens to children in foster care after they turn eighteen. If no one teaches them to budget, to run a household, to save, and if they have no where to return to if they find college too hard or not right for them, how do they survive as adults? Katie McGarry always writes about the benefits of a good, caring therapist, and more importantly in this novel, a social worker who truly cares and wants the best for their charges. I think this book has a great underlying message, and creates awareness of issues that a lot of people are lucky enough to never have to think about.
The only thing that lets this novel down is its cartoonish villain, Eric. He's a street thug, a very smart one, who runs the illegal drag racing that Rachel and Isaiah compete in. He's dangerous and mean, with a host of other similarly tough and violent boys at his call. But he's still young, and I don't think it's credible at all that the police apparently know all about his activities and can't bring any charges against him. The book makes him out to be some young, cocky version of a Mafioso, with a lot of power behind him, but it was hard for me to believe.
Crash Into You is my favourite book of the Pushing the Limits series so far. I've always enjoyed Isaiah's scenes and am grateful that we finally got to read his story. Fans of the series will be kicking themselves if they miss this instalment, and I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of the next book!