Archive | November, 2011

Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

15 Nov

Series: Hex Hall, book #2

Published: March 22nd 2011 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 359 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

This sequel is just as enjoyable as its predecessor Hex Hall. Here we follow Sophie as she goes overseas to stay on the English countryside with her father and a few of her friends. New characters are introduced, and it doesn’t take long before she is put into various peculiar situations. Great witty heroine and fun dialogue, but lacking depth to make it really good. A light entertaining albeit slightly forgettable read.

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Synopsis:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

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My Thoughts:

I didn’t outright love this book. Yet it still exceeded my expectations. You see, I’ve learnt to expect the worst with sequels. And this, my friends, is a sequel which manages to be just as good as its prequel.

A miracle in itself.

What probably saved this one from the dreaded “middle-book-syndrome” was the change of setting. As soon as we enter the story, Sophie is whisked away from the familiar setting of Hex Hall to the castle Thorne Abbey in England, where her father, as well as the rest of the council, is staying.

Immediately we are introduced to a bunch of new characters (Daisy,Nick and Lara), as well as getting to keep some of the familiar faces (vampire BFF Jenna and betrothed Cal). There is the giant mansion Thorne Abbey with its corridors and secrets. And Archer is supposedly lurking somewhere on the English countryside.

My interest was piqued.

Just like in Hex Hall the tone is light and sarcastic and the pace is great. Not once was I bored. There were equal amounts of action sequences, as well as space for some bonding, father-daughter or Sophie-Jenna. Sophie Mercer once again proved what a fun character she is. It felt effortless following her around.

I also loved the snarkiness and wittiness, which reminded me of Cassandra Clare’s in the Mortal Instruments.

Let me give you a few examples:

On Sophie’s dad being British:

“Dad was at his desk when I opened the door, doing what all British people do when they’re freaked out: drinking tea.”

Or when Sophie finds out about the betrothal:

“As I stomped across the school grounds, all I could see was Cal sitting with my dad in some manly room with leather chairs and dead animals on the wall, chomping on cigars as my dad formally signed me away to him. They probably even high-fived.”

Or the snarky remarks between Sophie and Archer:

“Never hurts to be prepared….”
“It just seems like overkill when you already have a sword and I have superpowerful magic at my disposal.”
“‘Superpowerful’? …. Let me remind you of two words, Mercer: Bad. Dog.”

Entertaining indeed.

Yet, just like in Hex Hall, it also lacked depth. All though some terrifying things happened, it never affected me much. I didn’t feel the pain, the loss or the fear of any of the characters. Like I said in my review of Hex Hall, it never goes beyond a light version of Harry Potter. A shame, because the potential is definitely there. Hawkins sure knows how to write.

In this sequel we are also introduced to another one of those dreaded love triangles. Well, dreaded only if forced or superficial, which unfortunately this one is. I would have been perfectly happy with only Archer. God knows there are enough star-crossed problems hanging over them, without an additional problem being added of another guy viewing for Sophie’s attention. It doesn’t help that this other guy hardly talks or shows any emotions. Consequently, I have absolutely no idea of who he is, more than that he is good at healing. Good thing the love triangle was never at the forefront of the story.

The ending was a real cliffie. Practically everyone is in danger. Who has made it and who hasn’t? Well, get the next book to find out!

Urgh, I’ve never been a fan of those ones.

Yet, cliffie or not, since I did enjoy the book overall, I think I’ll have to get my hands on Spellbound when it hits the shelves in March next year. So yep, I have to say I remain intrigued..

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Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

11 Nov

Series: Bloodlines, book #1

Published: August 23rd 2011 by Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 421 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Great new spin-off series of the Vampire Academy following the new protagonist Sydney, the human alchemist who helped Rose in Last Sacrifice. Sydney may not be as kick-ass as Rose (kind of hard to beat), but she is every bit as head-strong and protective of the ones she loves. She warmed my heart, as did the other characters in their group, Jill, Eddie and in particular Adrian! All in all, a wonderfully entertaining start to a new series!!

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Synopsis:

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

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My Thoughts:

I actually read this book a couple of weeks ago, but things were being so hectic at the time, that I never got a chance to sit down for a review. I do however remember my one thought after closing the last page:

I am in love with Adrian Ivashkov.

That’s right. Not since Jace in The Mortal Instruments have I felt so strongly for a male character. What a wonderful, cynical, broken-hearted, flawed, protective, kind and romantic character Mead has created. I felt as if he practically jumped out of the pages every time he was given page time. Talk about a scene-stealer!

So, taking that into account, my view of Bloodlines may be slightly biased, since Adrian had me feeling starry-eyed pretty much all the time.

That being said, I was conscious, more or less, of the rest of the plot as well. And believe me when I say that I was wary at the start.  For one, I loved everything about the Vampire Academy and was wondering if Sydney the alchemist could be as good of a protagonist as Rose?

Well, was she?

Yes, I think she was. Obviously not as kick-ass. Not the center of attention. Not as drop-dead gorgeous. But every bit as head-strong and courageous, and protective of the ones she loves.  Just managing the situations in a different way. While Rose tended to go running head-first into things, Sydney took time to think about the best possible way to handle something before acting on it. She is a bit of a brainiac, a book-nerd, responsible and all that. But she also proves that she has the guts to act in dangerous situations when it really comes down to it.

I found myself feeling for her, being human and trying to cope in a world of vampires, cleaning up after everyone, suffering from the repression of her father, trying to do everything right and please everyone but not always succeeding. Always putting everyone else before herself. I also see a lot of potential growth. I think she’ll learn how to stand up for herself and I hope in doing so she’ll also face her father. I can’t wait for that moment to happen.

The setting in this book is not much different from the Vampire Academy setting, except for the obvious. There are only humans in the school. Otherwise, Sydney and the Moroi princess Jill essentially face the same high school issues that Lissa and Rose once faced. That is, trying to cope with rumours, high-school bitches, not breaking school rules, boy crushes, demanding teachers, and the list goes on. It’s all very entertaining, and I loved seeing the little group of Sydney, Jill and Eddie taking care of each other and facing everyone around them.

Seeing as this is a spin-off, I should let you know that it works perfectly well to read this book if you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series. All though, be warned that there are quite a few spoilers as to how the previous series ended. So if you are planning to read VA, you should probably do that first before starting Bloodlines.

My one qualm about this book were the plot twists leading up to the finale which were a bit predictable. Someone of course had to turn out to be the bad guy with a hidden agenda.  BUT, seeing as Adrian was given page time in the finale, I wasn’t too bothered. And some of the other plot threads were very nicely tided up. So all in all, I enjoyed reading it until the end.

Finally, what really made this book special for me, was the growing affection between Adrian and Sydney. It happened so slowly that I barely knew if I was feeling it right, but I do think now there is great potential for the two of them. They definitely share a connection, and I cannot wait to see that continue in the sequel.

Now, some people have been complaining about the romance being too slow, but how could it have happened in any other way? I mean, Adrian was suffering from a broken heart. It would have come off as rather strange if he had been able to throw himself into another relationship just like that. I really did prefer this slow but much more believable scenario. Just saying.

The ending is a bit of a cliffie. Let me just say, you will be dying to know what the next spoken words are.

I know I literally cannot WAIT to continue the journey of these wonderful characters in The Golden Lily, to be published in June 2012.

Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

6 Nov

Series:Razorland, book #1

Published: April 12th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends

Details: Hardcover, 259 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

Great start with a tough heroine in a claustrophobic and grim dystopian world, but that fizzled out in a week plot, with a brooding male romantic interest and a forced love triangle. Be prepared for an abrupt ending. Overall, still a good read, but not as good as it could have been.

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Synopsis:

WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear–to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

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My thoughts:

My thoughts regarding this book are nearly identical to Birthmarked. It started out strong with plenty of potential, but half way through the plot simply fizzled out. And so did my interest.

In the opening chapters, we are introduced to the claustrophobic dark tunnels of Deuce’s world. She belongs to the human settlement The Enclave, deep in these tunnels, a society which follows strict rules in order to ensure the settlement’s survival. Child mortality is high and children earn their names only if they manage to survive the first 15 years. On the naming day, each one is categorized into breeders, builders or hunters. Deuce belongs to the latter category, a huntress, whose goal is to protect the settlement from all the zombie-like freaks that roam around the tunnels.

Grim world, to say the least, but very very intriguing.

Deuce is a great heroine, with similarities to Katniss, which may explain the comparisons to Hunger Games on the cover. She is a survivor and a fighter who takes matters into her own hand. Her mind is more practical than sentimental.  She has a tough shell, but doubts and vulnerability exist on the inside, which just makes her that much more endearing.

Fade, the guy she is paired up with to guard the enclave, is an outcast. He was found out in the tunnels by the enclave, and it’s an enigma how he survived by himself that long. He’s quiet but strong and an excellent fighter. I immediately felt Deuce’s curiosity regarding him. In short, I was hooked!

But half way though, something unexpected happens. They leave the enclave. And that’s where it all started to go downhill for me.

They embark on a journey seemingly without plans, where each event that happened seemed rather random. Instead of focusing on the secrets of The Enclave, or why things were the way there were, the plot took a turn into typical YA territory.

Yes folks, I’m talking about that inevitable love triangle! The problem is, I would have been perfectly happy with only Deuce and Fade. The second male interest felt forced, introduced only for the sake of creating some romantic tension.

A shame.

Especially since there was so much potential there in the beginning. I almost wished that Deuce had stayed with The Enclave, despite the hopelessness of that world, since the characters and potential plot was so much stronger there.

By the time it ended I was loosing interest quickly. Good thing it was only 250 pages long, or else it might have got an even lower grade. That said, the ending itself actually lowered the grade, since there was no real closure, just a cessation of words.

Despite all my qualms above, it was still overall a decent read, and I will keep an eye out for the reviews of the next book Outpost, to be released in 2012.