Archive | August, 2011

Review: Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

18 Aug

Series: Iron Fey, book #2

Published: August 1st 2010 by Harlequin Teen

Details: Paperback, 359 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Sequel to Iron King. Meghan Chase follows Ash, as promised, to the Unseelie Court where more adventure follows. The random little group of Ash, Meghan, Puck, Grim and Iron Horse made for a wonderful trip through NeverNever and the Mortal World. Can’t get enough of this wonderfully drawn world. In short, this is something as rare as an amazing sequel! I cannot wait to get my hands on the third installment Iron Queen!

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A few chapters in:

I read Iron King a while ago and remember being in awe over the world building. Julie Kagawa had created the most intriguing fairy world that I had ever read, not a small feat considering everything fantasy and fairy that I’ve been reading in the past year. On finishing the book, I knew it was just a matter of time (weeks) until I’d start the sequel.

And here I am, a few chapters in:

In the prequel Iron King, Meghan made a deal with prince Ash of the Unseelie Court that if he helped her rescue her brother Ethan from the Iron King, she would willingly let him take her to Queen Mab of the Unseelie Court. As you know, if you read Iron King, it ended with Ethan being successfully rescued.

Hence, at the start of  Iron Daughter, it’s Meghan’s turn to fulfill her side of the bargain. And so, she and Ash travel to the Unseelie Court, where Meghan is to stay as Queen Mab’s guest/prisoner.

The Unseelie court, also called The Winter Court is a cold and eerie place and Meghan feels terribly lonely. Ash is nowhere to be seen, and when he finally does arrive, he treats her like dirt which makes Meghan doubt everything that happened between them on their travels.

One night, the Iron Fey attack the Winter Court and kill prince Sage, Ash’s brother. Queen Mab is certain the attack was orchestrated by King Oberon of The Summer Court and declares war.

And this is as far as I’ve got but let me tell you, I am feeling the pull, big time!!!
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

Here is another sequel that has turned out to be as good as its predecessor. I’m so happy to find these rare cases, because I was honestly starting to doubt they existed!

In this sequel, we are taken on a journey to the winter court, and later to the middle lands and the mortal world. Just like in Iron King, I loved every minute of being succumbed into this amazing world-building. The detailed accounts of various creatures and the strange happenings that took place, were as imaginative and spot-on described as in the prequel. And for that, I (once again) envy you Julie Kagawa.

The group of Meghan, Ash, Puck and Grim was a joy to follow, as always. This time, they’ve got company from a rather unexpected ally in their quest to end a fairy war: the Iron horse. You might remember him from Iron King where he captured Meghan and Ash in  Machina’s territory. He was a welcomed addition, all though, to be honest I never truly understood why he felt the need to help Meghan, apart from the fact that the king he now served was false. Maybe the true intentions of the Iron Horse will be revealed in the following books?

A love triangle is also emerging in this sequel. We all knew it was bound to happen, between Meghan, her best friend Puck and prince Ash. What I liked though is that there are never really any doubts of who she wants. In other words, not a lot of bouncing back and forth, to which I was grateful.

Meghan’s powers are also growing throughout this installment, and it is a subtle thing. That is, she is starting to realize that she has some serious powers but is still very much struggling with what those powers are, and how to use them. I loved the fact that it takes some time, and is not accomplished in a flash, as with so many other paranormal stories I’ve read.

If there is anything I can complain about, it is that we don’t get very much closer to the mystery that is the Iron Fey, and how Meghan is connected to all of this. In that sence, it is a middle book. Yet, because of great characters (Grim still being my favorite), awesome world-building, quirky dialogues, mind-blowing action and heart-pounding romance, I couldn’t have cared less. Also, I feel confident that Kagawa will explain one or two things in the next installment.

Finally, I absolutely loved the end. Won’t spoil anything, and no it’s not exactly a cliff-hanger. But, it left me aching, happily sighing and dying to know what will happen next, all in one go!

Needless to say, I’ll be reading the third installment Iron Queen very soon.

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Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

17 Aug

Series: If I Stay, book #2

Published: April 5th 2011 by Dutton Juvenile

Details: Hardcover, 264 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

This is the sequel to If I Stay. Three years has gone since Mia left Adam, and he is still trying to come to terms with it. One night in New York they bump into each other. Is there hope for something new? This was a great follow up, almost better than If I stay! I Loved watching from Adam’s point of view, and what happened felt very real. All in all, a great read!

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My Full Review:

I remember reading If I Stay a while ago, about Mia whose spirit is trying to decide whether to go or stay in this life, after she learns that her entire family was killed in a car crash. I wasn’t blown away, neither did I cry. Yet it was still good enough for me to want to read the sequel.

Fast forward a couple of months, and here I am with the follow-up, which takes place roughly three years after the accident, all told from Mia’s boyfriend Adam’s point of view. We learn that Mia walked out on Adam, and he never got to know why.

Adam continued with his music and is now a famous rock-star. Mia went on to Juilliard to pursue a carrer as a professional cellist. One night they bump into each other in New York. They each have flights the next morning, so it’s really just one night. The book is essentially of the two of them wandering around in New York and talking.

In fact, it felt a little bit like the movie Before Sunset with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, all though the setting of the movie is in Paris instead of New York. If you haven’t seen the movie, please do, it’s great!

But let’s get back to the book, and I’ll be honest. At first I felt that Adam was being a bit too emo for my taste. You know, he had achieved everything he could possibly have dreamt of in terms of his music, and instead of enjoying it, he was a wreck. All because of one high school break-up. Get a grip! I wanted to yell at him.

As the story unfolded though, I started to understand what he had gone through. I think more than anything, he was trying to cope with the not knowing why. Mia practically cut him off, without any explanations. Un unresolved relationship, especially that of your first love does seem like a tough cross to bear. Add the terrible accident and how that must have affected him as well.

We get to follow these two through the streets and places of New York, as they are talking about everything that happened, and I felt myself getting more and more attached. What I liked the most was that it felt so very real. As if what happened to their relationship after Mia’s accident was something that would probably have happened in real life.

Somehow, through Adam’s point of view, I also got a clearer picture of Mia as a person, and of her grief, which is something I struggled with in If I Stay. I felt for Adam as well, and even shed a few tears there at one point.

In short, I am so glad I read Where She Went, as it proved that a sequel can actually top its predecessor. Yes folks, it is possible!

A highly recommended read!

Review: Illusions by Aprilynne Pike

12 Aug

Series: Wings, book #3

Published: May 3rd 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers

Details: Hardcover, 375 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

The previous two books in this series, Wings and Spells were not amazing, but enjoyable. Unfortunately this book is less than enjoyable, with no plot to speak of, no Avalon in sight and instead centering around an irritating love triangle between Laurel and her two boys. This is the end of the series for me.

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Synopsis:

Laurel hasn’t seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

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My thoughts:

I have one word for this book.

Filler.

That’s all it was. Pure filler. Let me explain it to you:

There are 36 chapters in this book. Chapter 1 to 34 are devoted to the love triangle between Laurel, her human boyfriend David and fairy guardian Tamani. In other words, that’s 34 chapters of “should I choose this boy or that boy”, with no resolution at the end of it, I kid you not. Chapter 34 to 36 finally gives us a plot and some action, before it abruptly finishes in a.. yes, you guessed it right, a cliff hanger!

Now, the synopsis of the book promises something else entirely. I quote:

“Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible.”

Okay, did I miss something here? Danger, where? Apart from one page of sudden troll action (and chapter 34- 36), there was no danger anywhere. I certainly never felt that Laurel was threatened, and besides, she had about 200 sentries protecting her, plus of course her two suitors watching her every step. Was Laurel in danger? Nope, did not feel it, at all.

What I did feel was irritation. The main reason being the love triangle.

Now, if you’ve read my blog, you know I have nothing against love triangles, if they’re done well. This one however is ridiculous, and even more so since it’s the center theme of the book. Laurel’s indecisiveness annoyed me to no end. She kept bouncing back and forth so much that it had me feeling dizzy. She behaved like a spoiled child that wants to have one’s cake and eat it too. She would chastise David for being jealous, then go on and kiss Tamani. Then she would tell Tamani off for pursuing her, and in the next second throw a tantrum when he flirted/danced/talked to another girl. Seriously? My 6-year old cousin behaves more mature than that.

I was not impressed.

What would have saved this book for me, was a lot less teen-age drama and more of Avalon. I loved Avalon in the previous book Spells but here we only got a very brief glimpse of that world when Laurel visits her mentor Jameson. Other than that, it all takes place in the human world, with highschool, teen-age drama, teen-age angst and the obligatory school dance to finish things off.

There is one more book in the series to be published next year, but this is the end of the series for me. One more word of “David or Tamani” and I’ll be screaming out loud.

Review: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

11 Aug

Series: Mortal Instruments, book #4

Published: April 5th 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 424 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

I absolutely loved the first three books of MI series, and was thrilled to continue the series. Sadly, it left me disappointed. The plot was all over the place, more problems were thrown at Jace and Clary, and my favorite character Jace turned into an emo. Still ok read because of the great setting and the writing, but nowhere near as good as the first three.

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A few chapters in:

I have finally started reading the fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments. I’m feeling a bit giddy as I dive into this wonderful world of Cassanda Clare’s again. Actually, it’s a mixture of giddiness and nervousness. I’m eager to revisit this world, but also anxious about not messing up that perfect ending that was City of Glass. In particularly when it comes to Jace and Clary.

Nevertheless, I still want to read it. And, it’s on the top of my “what to read next” poll! Thanks to all who voted!!

Okay, so taking a deep breath here, and diving in:

I’m now a few chapters in. Clary’s friend, the vampire Simon is the narrator in this installment, and he is experiencing some problems. Firstly, there are problems of a romantic nature, as he is dating not one, but two girls at the same time: Werewolf Maia and shadowhunter Isabelle, who are bound to find out about each other soon. Then, there is his mom, who is growing increasingly suspicious of his weird habits (such as never eating), and is starting to demand answers.

The biggest problem however is his new status as the untouchable daylighter. That is, not only is he the only vampire who can walk in daylight (hence the nickname daylighter), but since The City of Glass, he is also protected by a rune mark on his forehead.  A rune that Clary gave him in order to save his life. All this makes him a very powerful vampire, and a threat to many others.

A vampire named Camille Belcourt (you may remember her from Clockwork Angel), has realized his potential power, and asks him to join her on her quest to become the leader of the NY vampire clan.

But does Simon really want to become involved in vampire power struggles?

As Simon ponders these issues, we also get a look into the Shadowhunter institute where Clary is now conducting her training to become a full-fledged shadowhunter. She and Jace are as much in love as before, all though Jace has been distancing himself slightly.

Oh no! Don’t give me that again!

But yes, I am definitely sensing troubles on the Clary and Jace horizon. Jace is once again doubting himself, or so I think.

I’ll admit I’m not too happy about that development. BUT, I am loving everything else. The characters, the dialogues, the humour, the vividly described settings are all spot on. And I am certainly feeling the pull..
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I have a hard time writing this review, hence why it’s taken so long. But I guess I just have to get over it and write the words I’ve been dreading to spell out. I was disappointed.

There, I said it.

I hate to be criticizing my favorite author Cassandra Clare, but I have to be honest and write what I feel, sorry all you fans of the Mortal Instruments Series!

What I feel is that City of Glass was the true end to the series, but as Clare decided to extend the series, she had to quickly come up with a continuation. Consequently, the plot in this installment suffered. It felt forced.

The only part of the plot that was intriguing was the beginning, where Simon is being drawn into the politics of the vampires. I so wish she would have continued on that path.

Sadly, the first intriguing chapters quickly fell into the background, as a number of other irrelevant plot threads took the forefront. There is Simon who is tormented by two-timing his two girlfriends and his desire to drink blood. The new character Kyle is introduced, but does not really bring anything new. There are lots of preparations for a wedding that never actually takes place. Some shadowhunters are also being killed but that all happens off-page. Alec and Magnus are off on some honey-mooney kind of trip and keep sending pictures to the rest of the group. Clary is learning some self-defense. And what not else.

The overall feeling was a plot that felt jumbled, and a bit messy. The POV also changed like there was no tomorrow, and added to my confusion.

However, messy plot aside, what really disappointed me, more than anything else, was the problems Jace and Clary were having.

I had no problems with their issues in the previous books, but City of Glass brought a sense of closure for these two. And having them getting into more problems now felt like a huge step backward. Moreover, the issues they experienced this time around felt forced, as if Clare had to desperately create something to keep the lovers apart (and supposedly keep the readers interested). It was almost as if I could see her thinking: Okay, now the sibling problem is solved, so what do we do now?

She essentially tries to (re)create the romantic tension with the “I don’t deserve you because I’m too dangerous for you” -dilemma, something which is really getting very old. I’m not impressed with Clare trying to implement that here. Not impressed at all.

I also didn’t like that Clary and Jace, after all they had gone through, couldn’t talk about their problems sooner. You’d think they’d be closer to each other than that. It also annoyed me how their characters changed in this book, Jace going all emo on us  and Clary going all whiny about whether Jace loved her or not. I mean come on! In all seriousness, can she really doubt Jace’s love now??

The ending promises more problems regarding the Jace and Clary relationship, and I can only sigh. I so wish Clare had taken a different direction. I wish she had left Clary and Jace alone, and concentrated on Simon and his new adventures instead. Why didn’t she?

Ah well. For the first time ever with a Cassandra Clare book I am actually contemplating whether to read the next book or not. I probably will, just out of pure curiosity but if the end is any indication of where this is going, I am pretty much convinced I will be disappointed again. Damn it Clare, you should have left it where it was!

At least we have her other series to look forward to, which I am truly grateful for. I never thought I’d say this but I am now looking more forward towards The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments Series.

The fifth installment City of Lost Souls to be published in May 2012.