Archive | April, 2011

Review: Desires Of The Dead by Kimberly Derting

28 Apr

Series: Body Finder, book #2

Published: March 15th 2011 by HarperCollins

Details: Hardcover, 368 pages

Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Sequel to The Body Finder about Violet who can sense murdered bodies. I thought her steamy romance with Jay in the previous book was really good. This one however was a disappointment. It felt like a filler, with no plot to speak of, and with a heroine who showed no backbone whatsoever, to the point that she started to bug me. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

I remember reading The Body Finder and loving it, especially the budding romance between Violet and her childhood friend Jay, which was truly sweet. And so, when this sequel hit the shelves, I knew I wanted to continue their story.

Hence, here I am a few chapters in. Violet and Jay are now a couple, and as much in love as before. But troubles are closing in, and it comes from various directions.

Firstly, there are two new kids in school, Mike and his sister, and Jay has started to spend far too much time with Mike, to Violet’s dismay. Meanwhile, someone – a girl – is feeling angry with Violet for supposedly taking Jay from her and has started threatening Violet with various anonymous messages.

As if that wasn’t all, Violet has also found a new body. As you may recall from The Body Finder, Violet has the uncanny ability to sense murdered bodies, as they give out a special echo sound that only Violet can hear. Once discovering a body, the echo will keep bugging Violet until it has been given a proper burial-place where it can rest in peace.

Hence, after coming across this latest body, she places an anonymous call to the police so that it can be found. Problem is, her call is traced back to her, and before she knows it, the FBI has approached her for questioning. What will happen when they find out about her ability?

And this is as far as I’ve got.

Unfortunately, I have to admit I’m not feeling it yet with this sequel. Violet has started to bug me, because she keeps everything a secret, refuses to let anyone help her and in general is just too meek, quiet and gloomy for my liking. I’ve wanted to yell “get it together!” quite a few times already. Which can’t be a good sign. I’m especially frustrated with the way Violet treats Jay, who does everything in his power to keep her happy, yet all she does is pouts.

Moreover, the plot is not much of a plot yet, rather it’s screaming filler. Particularly the subplot about a psycho girl who dumps dead cats on Violet’s porch is a bit too over the top for me. It sounds more like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction than a little school girl who is jealous over another girl’s boyfriend, don’t you think?

In short, I’m trying to remember now what was so good with The Body Finder, because doubts are creeping in. Or maybe I’m being too harsh here, it may get better the more I read, let’s hope so..

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well, you probably have guessed it already from my little prelude above. I was not a fan at the beginning of the book and that’s unfortunately how it stayed.

My main issue is that a plot was lacking for about two-thirds of the book. Instead what we got was Violet, Jay and friends going on about their life. There were tons of descriptions of Violet’s best friend Chelsea’s infatuation with Mike which didn’t add to the story line at all. More than highlighting the fact that Chelsea just rivaled Vee in Hush Hush as the most obnoxious best friend ever in YA literature (I see a Top 5 List emerging). Geez what an irritating, self-centered brat!

Ok, with that out of the way, back to the topic at hand: the non-existent plot. Tons of passages are dedicated to Violet feeling this, and feeling that, that she should really say this and she should tell someone that, yet no words ever form in her mouth. Frustrating to say the least! Moreover, what really annoyed me this time around with Violet is that she seemed so fragile! It felt like a gust of wind could make her crumble, or a mean look could make her cry, you know what I mean? I wanted to shake her about 90% of the time, and shout ” Just get it together girl”!!

Then to top it off, we get to the “break-up” between Violet and Jay, happening over a phone call when Jay doesn’t immediately accept Violet’s accusation of someone he knows. Say what?? Now I understand that having no plot, we need to shake things about a bit, thus creating a bit of a turmoil between Violet and Jay seems like a good idea. Yet, that poor excuse for a break-up made me (if possible) even more frustrated with Violet than I already was. She really is impossibly difficult!

All right, so moving on. In the last couple of chapters a plot finally emerges. Unfortunately, it turns out to be so predictable it reads as a child story. Lots of foreshadowing. I felt like, three chapters away, I could have stopped reading and mapped out that whole conclusion myself. And get everything right!

Finally, the one and only thing that was good was the writing. Violet’s uncanny ability is described in such a way that even though it’s certainly weird and I have never encountered anything remotely like it before, it makes perfect sense as I’m reading it. As if the dead calling on Violet is the most natural thing in the world. No doubt due to excellent writing skills.

Nevertheless, I have no plans to continue Violet’s and Jay’s story. I’m not sure what is in store for them, no doubt another murder case to be unraveled and possibly one or two minor fights with Jay, maybe even Rafe making an appearance as another candidate viewing for Violet’s attention. All though that would be a shame, seeing as Jay is such a lovely guy.

Oh, I’m just guessing here. Like I said, this is the end of the series for me. After having read this sequel, I believe Derting should have left The Body Finder as it was (no doubt) originally planned: as a stand-alone novel.

Third book to be published sometime next year.

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Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

24 Apr

Series: Nightshade, book #1

Published: October 19th 2010 by Philomel

Details: Hardcover, 452 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

First book in a series. A different take on the werewolf myth and one of the best written love triangles I’ve seen in a while. Plus a great world-building and multi-dimensional characters. All in all, a wonderful book!! The sequel Wolfsbane out in July, and cannot wait!

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A few chapters in:

I recently created a poll where you readers could vote and tell me what book to read next. Well, guess what book received the most votes?

That’s right, Nightshade! But before I go on, thanks to all of you who voted, I really appreciate getting your book recommendations!

Ok, so back to the topic at hand. Nightshade. All I know now is that this is the story about an alpha werewolf girl who falls in love with a human boy, thus it obviously draws some comparisons to Blood and Chocolate. It has also received great reviews. Needless to say, I’m excited to get started!

I’m now a few chapters in, and just like with Firelight, it starts bang on, where we’re literally thrown into an action scene when Calla (our werewolf heroine) saves a stranger human boy from getting killed by a bear in the mountains.

Little by little, we then learn the following about Calla. There are two rivaling wolf packs living in the mountains, The Nightshades and The Banes. As we enter the story, things are about to change. Calla, who is the daughter of the alpha of the Nightshades is to make a union (werewolf marriage I assume) with Ren, the son of the alpha of the Banes. This is a big thing, as everyone is now hoping to put an end to their fights. In particularly The Keepers (the rulers of all packs) are eager to make this work. Hence, Calla is feeling the pressure.

Enters the new enrollment in the mountain school, who happens to be the very guy Calla saved in the mountains. And complications arise, because this guy Shay has taken an interest in Calla, after their encounter in the mountains.

And that’s how far I’ve got. Or rather, of what I understood so far. Because truth to be told, I am a little bit confused. The new guy Shay seems to have connections within the werewolf community which was a bit of a surprise. Moreover, I’m not sure yet what Calla is thinking of her soon to be, Ren. True, he’s a casanova, but quite a charmer too, so not all that bad.  And what’s up with The Keepers, who are they? Not only do they seem to rule the two werewolf packs, they also rule the school.

In short, my head is swarming with questions, yet that’s what’s keeping me interested too. So it’s a good start and I’m certainly feeling the pull!

 

 

 

 

After finishing the book:

Wow! I don’t know where to start! This was such a great book! I read the first couple of chapters feeling slightly confused, because it’s a complex world-building that Cremer has created. And it does take a while to grasp the intricacies of that world – who is the master of who, learning the names of the members of the packs, the history, the rules and traditions and so on.

Once I did get into it though, I got into it deep! I read almost the entire book in one sitting! So yep, this is addictive stuff.

As explained above, Nightshade opens with Calla saving human Shay on the mountain top (revealing her true wolf form in the process), to later meet him as the new enrollment in her school. Which, on the surface sounds like the premise of any ordinary ya paranormal romance I read lately. In fact, after a chapter or so, I was already conjuring up in my mind what I thought was going to be the story line.

Well, little did I know that I was to be taken on a rollercoaster ride, along with the heroine, as layer after layer of the plot is revealed. And trust me, there are multiple layers. In fact so many things are going on at the same time, I’m seriously impressed with Cremer for pulling it off so effortlessly. This is what I call a great world-building!

But firstly, the characters, which as you know are the number one priority for me in any book. The characters in this novel was the real reason for why I loved it so much. Each character was so well-drawn, that I got the feeling that I was living right within the little wolf pack group myself.

There was Ansel, Calla’s brother who was discovering himself as the same time as being fiercely protective of his big sister. Bryn was the loyal, impulsive sweet friend. Sabine was supposedly the bitch but also someone who had sacrificed herself in order to protect the shy and quiet Cosette. Neville was the quite poet and musician and Max the outgoing and friendly guy who immediately takes in Shay into the group. Even Dax, the somewhat unfriendly second-in charge Wolfsbane member had his moments. In short, I loved reading about them all, as they felt so real!

Calla herself I also found to be a great heroine, strong and kick-ass yet vulnerable, trying to deal with a lot of pressure and problems in the best way possible. She wants to keep everyone happy, yet wants happiness on her own as well. I was with her on every step of the way. I simply loved her voice.

Thirdly and lastly, this novel contains one of the most real love triangles I have read in a while, (since I read Penitence), where both candidates are equally complex and strong. I usually at least have an inclination towards one of the guys in the end, but for the first time ever, I really have no clue!

I was resenting Ren at the start because he is a womanizer and even though hot and charming, I couldn’t forget the fact that he had been dating half the school, while knowing that Calla was his future partner. Like Calla says in the book: I don’t share. And I couldn’t agree more! Yet, after a while, I started to wonder if his womanizing was actually a reaction to Calla’s refusal of him. She never does give him a chance. Could it be that he has been in love with her all the time, but too insecure to show it?

Shay on the other hand I loved at the start. He is fearless and pushes the boundaries. He may have seemed a bit weak and confused at first, simply for being a human. But after a while, I found he started to behave more and more like an alpha. He challenges Ren, pushes Calla to see the truth, gets himself a place in the pack, and keeps showing his interest in Calla. While I loved that he wasn’t afraid to take actions, and to find the truth, he does get Calla into quite a lot of dangerous situations as he makes her break rule after rule. In the end though, he realizes this himself and apologizes which made me like him again.

In short, I understood Calla’s inner struggles to choose between them. Even though Ren proves to be a great guy, he represents what she ought to do, in a structured world she now wants to escape. Shay on the other hand is the new, exciting and forbidden aspect of her life. And he is in danger.

In the end I don’t think she’s consciously choosing any of the guys, it’s more coincidence and circumstances. It will be really interesting to follow this triangle in the next book, to see if a favorite will finally emerge.

Lastly, I only have one minor criticism which was the event which took place in the cave with Shay, which I thought felt a bit rushed. It’s supposed to take a while to learn, yet Shay managed the transition a little bit too easy. You know, one night in the woods, and now he’s a pro.

Yet, it’s a small criticism to an otherwise wonderful book. Thanks again to all of you who recommended me to read it. I’m now eagerly waiting for Wolfsbane, the second installment due to hit shelves in July this summer.

Review: The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine

22 Apr

Series: Morganville Vampires, book #2

Published: April 3rd 2007 by NAL Jam

Details: Paperback, 238 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Second book in the Morganville Vampires series. Shane’s dad turns up in order to kill vampires, and gets Shane into trouble, which means Claire needs to save Shane. I enjoyed the first book, but here it felt too young adult. Simplistic plot, shallow characters and plot holes. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

It’s been a while since I read the first book in the series Morganville Vampires, about 16-year old Claire who goes to Morganville to attend uni and finds out (first-hand) that the town is ruled by vampires. While I didn’t think it was fantastic I still thought it was a fun action-filled page-turner with the potential to become better as the series progressed. Which is why I thought I’d pick up the sequel.

I’m now a few chapters in. And it picks up just where Glass Houses left off, which is literally, in the middle of an action scene.

Beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the first book yet!

So, Michael is dead. Killed by that biker gang who stormed into the Glass House in the final chapter of Morganville Vampires. The leader of the gang is Shane’s dad, who has come back to the town in order to revenge the vampires for killing his daughter and wife. He mistakenly took Michael for a vampire, and hence had him killed too.

Needless to say, the other three house mates Shane, Claire and Eve are distraught and frantically trying to find a solution to their problems. And let me tell you, they have acquired a lot of problems. Half the town has turned into their enemies – vampires, police cops and now this biker gang.

They do have support from Amelie, the leader of all vampires, but if they screw up (for instance are linked to any vampire killings by Shane’s dad), that support would quickly be withdrawn. Hence, it’s a volatile security net, to say the least.

Despite this mess, Claire persists that she needs to go back to school, I mean , say what?? That would be the last thing on my mind (school nerd or not).

Moreover, I don’t know whether the writing of the book changed or my view of it (most likely the latter), but I’m noticing now that the language is very young adult. We’ve got phrases like “totally cool” in every second paragraph, and detailed descriptions on how to cook pasta for the first time (oh my god, it boils over!).

Which is fine, because after all, it is targeted towards young adult. As an older reader though, I’m starting to have a few doubts.

 



After finishing the book:

My first thought after having finished this book is this:

Meh!

It was not good, certainly not great, just.. meh. There was plenty of action but with plot holes huge enough to drive a truck through, and shallow cardboard cut-out characters. All written in a language way too young adult for me.

The strange thing is, I actually enjoyed reading the first installment Glass Houses. Strange indeed. I’m reevaluating that review now as I’m wondering if it really was as good as I thought at the time?

But I think I know why.

While reading that first installment, my curiosity was peaked because of the novelty of the whole world Caine introduced us to. Moreover, there was an actual plot, with Claire arriving as the new girl in town discovering everything on her own, meeting friends, creating enemies, finding love. I do remember that I was expecting more, yet forgave the first installment for its lack of depth in characters and world-building only because it was the first in a series, and I believed that it was to develop into something more complex in the following books.

Which obviously did not happen.

Instead, what we got was a filler with tons of action that had no other purpose than make the reader turn pages. In fact, the action scenes were so haphazardly thrown together, that it felt like the author just invented them as she went along, having Claire the heroine race around to try to save the day. It grew boring very quickly simply because there was never any thought behind Claire’s actions nor any dialogues (apart from the occasional “that’s gross!” Or  “totally cool!“). Just a lot of aimlessly running around.

As for the plot, I found it too simplistic. I need more layers or subplots to keep me interested. The story line was essentially Shane’s dad who showed up to kill some vampires and got Shane into trouble, which meant Claire and company needed to save him. That was basically it.

On finishing the book, nothing more had been revealed about the Morganville world than we didn’t already know. Amilie was still a bit of a mystery, Oliver remained the evil vamp who wants to take over in charge, Monica remained a super-bitch and Brandon was a jerk. Tell us something we don’t know!

Instead, what this book had me noticing was all the giant plot holes that seemed to have been overlooked. Of course, those existed already in Glass Houses. For instance, I remember questioning why Claire didn’t go home the second she found out  about the vamps in Morganville. But I went along with it for the sake of enjoying the story.

In The Dead Girls’ Dance however, I started wondering about a few other plot holes, such as why on earth people hadn’t tried harder to leave? And why no one else outside of Morganville knew about this deady secret? I know it’s (somewhat fuzzily) explained that anyone who leaves Morganville have their memories viped clean.

Should anyone recuperate their memory, the vamps supposedly had that person killed. How the vamps keep track of these “memory mishaps” is another thing. I mean, do they have vamp cops that go questioning every single former Morganville citizen to make sure that their mind manipulation works, or what?

Moreover, this series is placed in modern time, that is, in our current world of technology. Oliver, the evil vamp himself praises human technology as it makes it easier for vamps to keep track of humans. Yet, shouldn’t that very technology be a disadvantage as well? I mean, for one, there is the internet. Couldn’t any Morganville resident intent to reveal the vampire secret do so in a single chat or email? Or do the vamps control that as well? If they do, how?

It’s certainly not explained, and in order to believe in this world, I need to know how the vamps manage to maintain Morganville a secret. As it is now, it’s not clear at all, which makes it very unbelievable.

In short, in order to enjoy these books, I think you might have to suspense disbelief. You need to forget the how’s and why’s and just go with flow as Claire continues to land herself into trouble.

That, or there is the option to just quit reading this series altogether, which is what I’m about to do now. Two books were enough.

For those of you still interested, the third book is called Midnight Alley.


Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

13 Apr

Series: Vampire Academy, book #4

Published: August 25th 2009 by Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 503 pages

My Rating: 5/5

My Summary:

Fourth book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose has dropped out of school and is traveling through Russia in order to hunt down the man she loves. I loved experiencing the world outside the VA gates with Rose! Amazing book!! Cannot wait to read Spirit Bound, next in the series.

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A few chapters in:

I just started reading this fourth installment of the Vampire Academy Series, and boy am I excited! As you know, if you’ve been following this blog, I wasn’t always a fan of the Vampire Academy. In fact, it was a gradual process, which by the way can be seen in the grades.

Vampire Academy started off on an enjoyable but not great 3.5 grade. Frostbite hit a higher mark (4/5) as it was a great entertaining read. Shadow Kiss with its devastating ending reached an almost perfect 4.5.

Question is now, will Blood Promise be the first Vampire Academy book (in my opinion) to score a perfect 5/5 mark? Only one way to find out!

And here is where I advise anyone who has not yet read Shadow Kiss to stop reading, because some serious spoilers are coming up!

Okay, so in Shadow Kiss things changed quite dramatically. For one, Rose has dropped out of the academy, only months prior to her graduation. Moreover, she has abandoned her plans to work as the guardian of Lissa. In fact she’s left Lissa to take care of herself. The reason for all of this?

She is on a mission. To kill the man she loves. Dimitri. Yep folks, I still have a hard time believing this, but in the last battle with the Strigoi in Shadow Kiss Dimitri was captured by the Strigoi and turned. Rose, who is heart-broken by this turn of events has decided to take matters in her own hand (as she always does), and go after Dimitri – or the new undead Dimitri – in order to kill him. Because she knows he would rather be dead than walk the earth as a soulless Strigoi.

Hence, at the start of this book we find Rose in Russia. She’s following a hunch that Dimitri might have returned to his birth town in Sibiria. Problem is, she has no idea where that is.

After lingering in St Petersburg for a while, staying close to other Moroi in the hopes of finding information, she runs into another girl. A human girl who, it turns out, is an alchemist; someone who helps the vampire world stay hidden from humans. This job includes disposing of dead Strigoi bodies before they’re discovered, and not surprisingly, she has been kept quite busy ever since Rose turned up in the city.

Upon questioning Sydney, as the girl is called, Rose learns that she knows where Dimitri’s Damphir town is. Problem is, she can’t tell Rose the location. Instead she’s ordered (by some mysterious superiors) to take Rose there herself.

Hence, the two of them end up on the Transibirian train heading towards that town, and this is where I am at now.

Needless to say, I am so excited. I always wanted to know more of world outside the walls of the Vampire Academy, and that’s exactly what’s happening now. Moreover, the descriptions of Russia are wonderful, and having traveled on that Transibirian myself, I can tell you this – Mead knows what she’s talking about! It’s as if I’m revisiting that train trip once again, that’s how real it feels.

In short, it’s starting great and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

 


 

After finishing the book:

Holy freaking crap! That was an intense ride! Yep, you’ve guessed it, I just finished Blood Promise, the fourth installment of the VA series. A series that just keep getting better and better.

This installment was the best so far as Rose travels to Russia in search for Dimitri. And wow, how I love it! I loved learning about the outside world of the Vampire Academy, the alchemists, the unpromised, the Damphir towns and mobster Moroi, the feel of Russia and all the new characters.

Yet, we never lose touch with the group of people we’ve come to know (Lissa, Adrian and co) at the Vampire Academy, as Rose keeps visiting Lissa’s mind from time to time. As much as I liked those characters (Christian and Adrian especially), I have to admit though that to me, those visits where the weaker part of the story. I was far happier accompanying Rose on her adventures in Russia than following Lissa on her journey through the social intrigues of the Vampire Academy and Court World.

This may be because I’ve really come to love Rose. She is without a doubt one of the coolest heroines out there. Bad-ass, yet vulnerable, huge heart, tough, protective and of course witty. Essentially, she’s a heroine I could follow to the end of the world. Which is surprising considering what I thought of her in the beginning. Talk about character growth!

Now, as for the actual plot:

As I mentioned above, Sydney the alchemist, accompanies Rose to Baia, Dimitri’s birth town where Rose ends up staying with Dimitri’s family for a while. Some reviewers commented that this part was a bit of a filler as nothing much happened during this period. Me? I loved every second. I drank in every detail of Dimitris house, his wonderful family, scary witch granny included and everything that came with it.

Eventually though, it was time to move on, and I think we all knew this was bound to happen. Rose finds Dimitri. Now this was interesting. Or no, wrong word. Excruciating! Back was the lump in my throat, my pounding heart and chest pain. Dimitri is a Strigoi, and so he has lost his soul, or has he? I found myself being as confused as Rose. Evil or good? Good or evil? Along with Rose I’d change opinion every few paragraphs. Excruciating indeed.

The ending provided another couple of twists, that I didn’t see coming at all (well, apart from the Dimitri dilemma that I kind of guessed would happen). Question is now, what about Adrian? Will he ever get a chance? Should he? Geez, I’m torn, because he really grew in my eyes in this book.

All in all, I am SO loving this series now, and I cannot get enough of this world. Thank god there are two more books to delve into, Spirit Bound being the next!

Review: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

12 Apr

Series: No, stand-alone

Published: September 7th 1999 by Laurel Leaf

Details: Paperback, 264 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Stand-alone book about a werewolf girl who falls in love with a human boy. Or so I thought. It ends up being about so much more. First half of the book left me unimpressed, as the romance was dull and I couldn’t relate to the main character. But as I read more, it changed, and in the end I loved it! So all in all, a good book.

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A few chapters in:

This is another one of those pre-twilight books that I’ve heard is good.

With pre-twilight I mean paranormal young adult romance published before the Twilight Phenomenon. The first one that captured my attention was Old Magic by Marianne Curley, which despite its many rave reviews (from which age group I’m now wondering?) turned out to be.. well.. not so good.

I’m hoping that Blood and Chocolate will prove to be better, as in aimed not solely at 14 year-old teens (which seemed to be the case with Old Magic). Hence, it’s with a slightly wary feeling that I approach this book.

I’m now a few chapters in. The lead character Vivian is a werewolf. She’s part of a pack of werewolves who, following a terrible fire at their last residence, have been moving around ever since. The restlessness of not having a new place to live combined with the absence of a good leader is making the pack falling apart. In short, we’re meeting a pack in shambles.

Meanwhile Vivian, like any other teenage girl, goes to school. She is, and has always been an outcast in school, a fact that has never really bothered her..until now. In order to pass her free time, she creates arty pictures of her werewolf life, which is published in the school magazine.

One day she discovers that a poem written by some guy named Aiden is accompanying one of her published pictures, a poem that vividly describes the experience of being a werewolf. The fact that Aiden is human, and should know nothing about werewolves, peaks Vivian’s curiosity.

So much in fact, that she decides to contact him, which in turn leads to accepting his proposition to go on a date.

And this is as far as I’ve got. Vivian’s mom has just banned their planned date, because according to the pack, humans and werewolves just don’t mix. I think we can safely assume that Vivian is going to meet Aiden anyway…

 

 

After finishing the book:

Ok, I’ve finished the book and my first thought is this:

Thank god I am a stubborn reader.

Because, if I hadn’t been, I would have quit mid way through. No doubt about that. That first half dragged so much that I almost chastised myself for continuing.

Then somewhere after those first 150 or so pages, I gradually started to care, and before I knew it I was truly engaged in the story, so much that I would have given it a 4, hadn’t it been for the slow unimpressive start.

As for the plot, Blood and Chocolate opens with a setting we are quite familiar with now in the YA paranormal romance genre. A mythical creature (werewolf Vivian) falls in love with a human boy (Aiden) and the pack of mythical creatures (werewolves) do not approve.

Because of such a similar opening to other books I’ve read lately, I think I was expecting a different kind of story than it was. For one, I was expecting the love story between Vivian and Aiden to have been more captivating. I was expecting to watch them fall in love and then see them struggling against the problems that were sure to follow their star-crossed relationship.

So imagine my surprise when I watched Vivian head out on her first date with Aiden, I turned the page and next thing I read was a recap about how they’d now been together for a while. Say what?? No details, barely no conversations, nor explanations of what happened, or why they connected or anything. They saw each other at school, went out on a date (which wasn’t even described) and now that was it, they were a couple!

A lot of make out sessions followed, and I remained clueless of who Aiden was, nor was I very fond of Vivian as I couldn’t grasp her personality, more than that she was quite sure of herself when it came to guys. Meanwhile, we got to follow the pack as they struggled through some problems. Which didn’t help, because I failed to find anything engaging in any of the characters of the pack. In fact, they all seemed quite aggressive, volatile and egoistic, including Vivian’s mom who must be about the worst mom ever portrayed in YA literature. Well, that might not be true (I just recalled Janie’s mom in Wake), but you get my point.

And so that’s how it went on for a large chunk of the book. Needless to say, I struggled.

Then suddenly, it took an unexpected turn, and my interest was awakened ever so slightly, because what was going to happen now? I suddenly found myself having no idea.

Gradually, things started to spiral out of control and in the meantime I found myself caring for Vivian. She no longer seemed so sure of herself, and her thoughts started to make sense to me.  Some of the others in the pack started to stand out as well, in particularly one other person. If you’ve read the book, you know who I’m talking about.

At the end, I could not let go of the book. I really couldn’t. I think I read the last couple of chapters in one heart beat. So yep folks, this is something as unusual as a book that starts on a 2/5 and ends in a 4. How often does that happen?

Problem is now, could I really recommend a book with such a rocky start? Having read the full story now, I’ve almost forgotten how uninterested I was at first. In fact, I think that if I read it again, now that it all makes sense, I would probably enjoy this story so much more.

Finally, I’d say that if you like unpredictable books with a slightly darker tone (yet still hopeful) then yes, I do recommend you to read Blood and Chocolate. Just be prepared for a slow start, that’s all.

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

5 Apr

Series: Firelight, book #1

Published: September 7th 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 323 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

First book in series which has been described as a Twilight with dragons. Starts out great with an exciting draki world, and a promising romance with a human boy. But as I read more, my interest fizzled out, since the romance didn’t capture me, and the heroine’s constant and monotonous inner worries got tiring. Won’t continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

Twilight with dragons. That’s how this novel has been described. At first, I wasn’t too interested, simply because dragons didn’t really appeal to me.

But then the reviews started pouring in, and after reading quite a few 5-star reviews about the incredible romance, I caved in. Dragons or not, if it has romance, I want to read it!

I am now a few chapters in. And let me tell you, there’s no slow build-up here. Already in the very first chapter we are provided with a thrilling action scene, with our heroine running from draki-hunters which results in a strange encounter with a beautiful boy.

Eventually, the facts are presented. The heroine Jacinda is a draki. That is, she looks like a human, but she can turn into a draki at will (mostly anyway). She lives with her mom and her sister in a secret draki society called The Pride. Ever since her father’s death, and the rise of the evil king Severin, life in The Pride has gotten more difficult. Which is why Jacinda’s mom one day decides to bring her girls with her and escape the society.

They end up settling down in a small town out in the desert, far away from The Pride. Jacinda and her sister Tamra start school, for the first time ever, and well, this is where I’m at now. Jacinda has just realized that, not only is school a strange experience, but the beautiful boy she met earlier also goes to this very same school..

I look forward towards Jacinda getting to know that boy, as I’m expecting the romance to be really cute.  However, I also feel that I may be too old for this book, that it is a bit too teen for me.

Well, only one way to find out!


 

After finishing the book:

Okay, so I just finished the book last night, and I can’t help but feeling a little disappointed. It started out so great, with an intense action scene and promises of a great forbidden romance.

But, as I read more, the plot sort of fizzled out.  The great premise and exiting build-up turned into a stereotypical  love-at-first-sight romance with a plot that at times got so cliché it had me rolling my eyes.

Now, if you think about it, it is weird that I reacted this way. Because if you know me – and have read my reviews – you know that I love romance. Especially when it’s hot and steamy, includes a supernatural twist and is sprinkled with a bit of danger.

Yet, this particular romance, though it contained all of the above elements, didn’t capture me. Strange indeed.

But I have a couple of theories as to why:

Firstly, the heroine. I could not connect with the girl, or worse, I actually found her annoying. It started out all right, but somewhere along the road frustration started to creep in as I had to follow her (as I discovered) very monotonous internal monologue.

I usually have no problems with inner monologues – in fact I like them because it gives me an insight into the main character and helps me connect with him/her. What I do have a problem with though, is when it gets too repetitious.

And Jacinda’s thoughts were just that, repetitious. She went on and on about the same issues (should or should she not see Will, how to keep her draki alive) for the entire book. Don’t get me wrong, I understood her issues. But having to hear those same thoughts over and over again got very tiring in the end. Especially since they never developed and she never reached any conclusions.  Just the same thoughts rephrased over and over again..and again..and again..yawn.

Secondly, the romance between Will and Jacinda was, yes I admit steamy at places. But it went way too quickly from “I’m attracted to you” to “You’re the love of my life to the point that I could die for you”. You know what I mean?

I like romances to build slowly. I like to feel how they gradually get to know each other and fall in love. Essentially I want to understand why they connect.

None of that materialized here.

Will and Jacinda shared a sizzling attraction. End of story.

I realized this after a while when it became apparent that.. hey, they never actually talk!? The few dialogues they exchanged (between their make out sessions and looking longingly into each others eyes) contained two or three sentences at the most, which by the way usually felt really contrived. I failed to see how that was love, or even a connection on any deeper level. Yet, Will declared his love after only a couple of chapters and yes, you guessed it, I rolled my eyes.

Thirdly, there were too many similarities to Twilight, so much that it actually bothered me a bit. At one point I couldn’t help thinking if she (Jordan) was trying to create a new Edward Cullen. Because seriously, there were too many incidents that pointed in that direction.

For one, Will is the unattainable gorgeous guy at school who hasn’t touched a girl until Jacinda comes along. Then, as soon as she does come along, he immediately starts stalking her, waiting by her house at 2 am in the morning, climbing in through the window, and (get this!) breaks into her house one morning to make her breakfast. When Jacinda happens to end up among other hunters, he turns really protective and growls.

And finally, just as I thought he could not get any more Edward-like, he utters the phrase: so the hunter falls in love with his prey.

Ring any bells?

All that said, what made it hard to connect to Will was not the Twilight similarities, but the fact that I knew nothing about him. Or rather, what I knew seemed too perfect. You know, not one single flaw. Which in my book always equals boring.

Even Cassian (the son of the evil king Severin) seemed more interesting, and given the little page-time he had in the book, that says something.

In the end, what saved this book from a 2/5 was the intriguing beginning, a few steamy sequences involving Jacinda and Will, and last but not least the colourful descriptions of Jacinda’s draki. In fact, all the draki-stuff was very well portrayed.

All though I had never read anything even remotely touching on dragons before, and hence was a complete draki-novice, Jordan really captured these creatures well. To the point that I understood how hard it was for Jacinda to face that dreadful heat when her natural habitat was mist and mountains. I felt the steam rise up in her when threatened, and I enjoyed the relief when her wings finally unfurled.

But unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The characters are always a number one priority for me, and if I can’t connect with them..the rest falls flat. Hence, I won’t continue the series.

The next installment Vanish is to be released in September this year.

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

1 Apr

Series: Vampire Academy, book #3

Published: November 13th 2008 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 443 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Third book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose with friends are back, for their senior year at the Vampire Academy. Rose struggles with many issues in this book, in particularly the dark side effects of being shadow-kissed. Hence this book is quite a bit darker, if compared the first two books. And I am so becoming a VA addict here, this book and in particular the ending blew me away.  Fourth book is called Blood Promise.

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A few chapters in:

The Vampire Academy series is growing on me. I started out feeling just okay about it, as in yes, definitely an entertaining read but nothing to write home about.

After reading the sequel Frostbite however, I noticed how on finishing the book, my hands started itching to get a copy of the next book in the series. In other words, I was getting slightly more hooked.

Fast forward a few weeks, and here I am sitting with Shadow Kiss, book number 3 in the series, also rumoured to be the book – bound to make anyone who hasn’t got VA addicted yet (such as me) a complete convert. A bit like the fourth book in the Harry Potter series.

Needless to say, I’m eager to get started.

I’m now a few chapters in. After surviving the terrible Stigroi attack in Frostbite, Rose and her friends are back at St Vladimir’s, where life continues, more or less like before.

A very important school test is coming up – a 6 weeks field experience – where each Dhampir is assigned to guard a Moroi on school grounds. Occasionally, the instructors will try to “harm” the Morois and the Dhampirs are to be graded according to how well they protect their subjects during these fake attacks.

Rose is of course looking forward to spend 6 weeks with Lissa (who she assumes will be her subject), but gets an unpleasant surprise when it’s revealed that she is to guard Lissa’s boyfriend Christian instead. Christian is not too bad though and they soon realise that they get along better than they thought.

Meanwhile, something very strange is happening to Rose. She’s seems to be seeing ghosts – at least that is what she thinks it is, as the person she keeps seeing is the dead Mason. As you may recall, Mason is Rose’s friend who got killed in Frostbite. Rose fears that she’s loosing her mind, and keeps it a secret, even as one of these very “ghost sightings” lands her into trouble in school.

And this is as far as I’ve got. Even though not much has happened yet, I feel quite happy to delve into this world again, with Rose, Lissa, Dimitri, Christian and not to forget Adrian – our new acquaintance and spirit user from Frostbite. Review coming soon.

 

 

After finishing the book:

It’s been two days since I finished reading the book, and I just can’t seem to let it go. Wow!  It’s like everything just intensified. It went from being a fun light-hearted young adult series which I’ve read as pure entertainment up until now, to a darker gut-wrenching story that would not release me from its firm grip until the very last page.

I noticed the change while I was reading the second half of the book, as my heart started going like mad, my chest ached, and I realized I had a lump in my throat. I eventually had to stop for a few moments, to take a deep breath and remind myself that jeez Tess, this is just a book! Get a grip!

So yeah, to cut it short, this series is finally getting to me.

At the start of the book however, I wasn’t feeling it just yet. Or rather, it felt like a prolongation of the previous book Frostbite, that is, entertaining and fun. There were the ever-present issues at school, with rumours, jealousy, dealing with the bond to Lissa, evading Adrian’s flirting etc, and Rose kept getting into all sorts of trouble as usual.

Then gradually, darker forces began creeping into the story as Rose started noticing the consequences of being shadow-kissed. As you may recall, shadow-kissed essentially means brought back from the dead. Which is what happened all those years ago, when Lissa used her spirit powers in order to revive Rose.

Understandably, Rose finds it terrifying to realize that something unknown is happening to her, and to not know for sure what it is.  I mean how bad are the consequences? Is it something she will be able to live with or something that will destroy her life? As far as Rose knows, there has only ever been one other shadow-kissed person before, and that is Anna – the guardian of St Vladimir (whom the academy is named after). Problem is, Anna is dead and hence, is not much help in the advise-department.

At the same time, and possible derived from the darker shadow-kissed side effects, Rose also starts to question her choice as a life-time guardian. Like every Damphir trained to be a guardian, during her whole life she has been drilled with the mantra: the Moroi always come first. But, as Lissa starts planning her life for college, assuming Rose is to follow her to wherever she decides to go, the very thought of living a life as someone’s shadow is starting to frustrate Rose.

After struggling on her own with these issues (and more) for quite some time, Rose finally finds someone to confide in..Dimitri. And let me just say, that all though I already had a soft spot for Dimitri, he really grew in my eyes in this book. He really did. What an absolutely wonderful guy!

That said, he wasn’t the only person I got more attached to. I really enjoyed seeing more of the others as well, Adrian, Christian, Lissa, Eddie and not to forget Mason. I admire Mead for creating such well-rounded secondary characters, each one with good and bad sides, each driven by different motivations – just like in real life.

Christian in particular keeps growing in my eyes, mainly because he is such a vulnerable and strong character at the same time. I love his complexity. I keep feeling for Adrian too, who has now shown us that he is much more than just a drunken flirt.

I suppose Lissa is the character I feel the least for now at this moment, seeing as her friendship with Rose has been kind of one-sided lately. Her character however is also understandable as she has grown up with the same mantra drilled into her head as Rose – that Moroi always come first.  Considering the other Moroi Royals, she still stands out as one of the best Moroi out there. And putting myself in her shoes, I would probably have been upset too, knowing that my best friend kept all those secrets from me.

My only worry now is, will all these wonderful characters appear in the next book? You know, for the first time in this series, I really have no clue! Which is also of course what makes it so exciting! As for the other stuff, my chest keeps aching and the lump in my throat is still there – if you’ve read the book you know what I mean. I won’t even try to predict an outcome there, let’s just hope for a miracle, okay?

I’ve already ordered and received Blood Promise, the fourth book in the series (and thank god for that!). Expect that review to be coming up soon!