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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: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

9 Oct

Series: Unwind, book #1

Published: November 6th 2007 by Simon & Schuster

Details: Hardcover, 335 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

In a world where teenagers can be unwound, essentially scavenged for their body parts, the  teens Connor, Risa and Lev escape and make an attempt to survive until the safe age of 18. This is an action-packed adventure, with fully realized characters I truly cared about and a frighteningly well crafted world-building. My only minor criticism was the too-fitting ending.

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Synopsis:

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

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My thoughts:

Unwind should come with a warning tag: Be aware, once you start you will not be able to stop.

It sucks you in pretty much straight away and keeps an extremely high-paced tempo throughout the book. Plenty of action, lots of twists. Every chapter ended with something breath-taking, which forced me to continue just one more page.

It’s told from the point of view of several POV’s, mainly our lead characters Connor, Risa and Lev but other POV’s will occasionally pitch in as well.

I’m not a huge fan of multiple POV’s since the various voices usually blend into each other, thus making it messy to follow. In Unwind however, it worked. More so, it felt like it was necessary in order to understand the various backgrounds of these teens. Especially Lev, the tithe, who has been raised his whole life to become an unwound.

As so many other reviewers commented, the world felt frighteningly real. I had a hard time at first believing in the premise, that is, how such a world came to be. Surely, the Pro-Choice side would never allow for outlawing abortion in exchange for teens getting unwound?

On the other hand, since all the human parts continue “living” in other people,  unwind is not really considered dying. Somehow, in Shusterman’s world, this twisted idea of “life in a divided state” has taken root.

Once the unwinding business established, pure greediness took over. People were getting used to the constant availability of human parts in case of accidents or diseases. And so the world ceased to care for all these unwound teens, many of them unwanted babies to begin with.

The following passage from Unwind explains it further:

“of course, if more people had been organ donors, unwinding never would have happened… but people like to keep what’s theirs, even after their dead. It didn’t take long for ethics to be crushed by greed. Unwinding became big business, and people let it happen”

Wow, terrifying world, to say the least, and somehow, every bit believable, thanks to Shusterman’s writing.

There is a touch of romance as well, to please us softies, but Shusterman keeps it there just barely visible. It never takes over the plot.

The biggest strength with the book were the characters, who were all fully fleshed out, and given realistic personalities. No Mary Sues or Gary Stues in sight. Even the bad guys had a few good traits. No one was perfect, and no one was fully evil, and I could clearly picture them all in my head.

The ending was slightly too neat, that is, everything packed up just a bit too nicely. But that’s me nit-picking on an otherwise great piece of dystopian fiction.

If you’re into dystopian this is simply put a must-read!

The sequel Unwholly is to be released sometime in 2012.

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

13 Sep

Series: Hourglass, book #1

Published: June 14th 2011 by Egmont USA

Details: Hardcover, 397 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

A great read featuring Emerson, who since her parents death can see ghosts. She meets Michael, the consult her brother has hired, and her world turns upside down. I loved the dialogues, the heroine and the intriguing plot, but thought the romance and the villains were too clicheed. Still a hugely entertaining read, and I plan to continue the series.

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A few chapters in:

I have just started reading Hourglass, not to be confused with the third book of Claudia Gray’s Evernight Series. Instead, this is a debut from author Myra McEntire, and it involves time travel and an “explosively delicious romance”, if to believe a statement by Beth Ravis (author of Across the Universe) at the blurb of the book.

It also received a stunning review from yareads, which as you know I follow very closely.

Enough said, I got myself a copy and I’m now a few chapters in:

Emerson Cole is a 17-year old with a rather unusual problem. She sees ghosts. Generally, these ghosts are people from the past and the only way to make them disappear is by touching them.

Her well-meaning brother Thomas and his wife Dru are of course worried about Emerson’s strange ability (or craziness) and they’ve done everything in their power to help her, including a number of shrinks and medications. As we enter the story, Thomas as just hired another one of these “consults” for Emerson.

This one however is different from the others. For one, he is only a few years older than Emerson. Secondly, he is absolutely gorgeous. And thirdly he has the very same ability to see “ghosts” as Emerson.

All great news. Except for the fact that Michael, as he is called, seems to hide something, and this is somehow related to the mysterious organization Hourglass which he is working for. What secrets exactly he is hiding I don’t know yet, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

And so far, I am really enjoying this! I like the smart, spunky heroine, the witty dialogue and the unpredictable story line. Let’s just hope it continues this way!
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

So here’s the deal, I thought Hourglass was a very entertaining read. It had that quality about it that forced me to continue, the kind of book that won’t let go. Just need to read one more chapter, okay just one more.. one more until Oops it’s 2 am! How did that happen?

That being said, it wasn’t perfect. Meaning, it was not the type of book that upon finishing it had me thinking about it for days afterwards. There were a few things I found myself questioning and a few cliché’s that had my eyes rolling, but which I chose to ignore because I was so into the unraveling mystery.

So yep, hugely entertaining, that’s for sure. Yet not a book to die for. Do I make sense? Probably not. I’ll explain a bit more:

What I loved:

I loved the heroine, let’s get that one straight. She was the type of heroine you want to become best friends with. I’d like all my heroines to be like that. She reminded me a bit of Clara in Unearthly, the same snarky humour, ability to fend for herself, depth, great relationship with her family, insecure but also tough. I could totally see how any guy could fall in love with her.

Like other reviewers have commented, I enjoyed the original take on the plot, and obviously the pacing was great! I loved learning more, along with Emerson, what exactly she could do, what the Hourglass was, and the inner workings of time travel. It was all really interesting and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

I also loved the side characters, her lovely brother and wife who believed in her and her best friend Lily, who seemed to have a few secrets on her own. Can’t wait to see her character expand! I also loved Kabel, the other guy in the love triangle. Maybe even more than Michael. He was more open and showed more of his emotions than Michael, who was a bit more closed off and had that tortured thing going on about him.

Which brings me to what I didn’t love so much:

Michael, the romantic interest. I think I’m getting tired of male protagonists being portrayed as tortured souls. It’s worked before – I mean Jace! – but I feel it’s time to read about something new now. That being said, I’ve definitely read about worse male romantic leads. Michael was okay, just not very original.

The romance worked because I liked their chemistry and especially their dialogues together. But again, I did have a few qualms about it, or rather, there were a couple of clichés embedded in that romance that had my eyes rolling a bit. For instance:

1)  There is this electric current that goes through them every time they touch. I mean, light bulbs would literally go out when they touched, that sort of thing. Call me cynical, but it seemed a bit too over the top.

2) Michael keeps saying that he and Emerson can’t be together and I kept wondering, why not? I sure didn’t understand that, and at the end of the book, it didn’t seem to be much of a problem either. So it really felt more like a convenient plot device to keep them separated rather than a real problem.

3) I didn’t completely understand why Michael was being all that mysterious about Hourglass. Once again, I thought he was exaggerating that, or that he was mysterious for the sake of being mysterious. He’d keep repeating that he couldn’t tell her anything but at the end of the day, she was bound to find out anyway, and it sure didn’t seem to cause any problems then. So why the whole mysterious act?

A final qualm I had with this book was the end, which felt a bit too over the top. The villains were evil because..yeah why exactly? They were evil because of the sake of being evil? Too black and white if you ask me. It felt like a James Bond movie, where they have this long ooohahahahaaa talk about why they betrayed certain people and want to conquer the world. You know?

I didn’t completely buy into it.

But, despite all that, I sure flew through this book, in a matter of hours. I just could not stop! The number one reason, apart from a great heroine, characters and intriguing plot was the dialogue! It was great, fun, inventive and most of all sarcastic! I literally laughed out loud througout the book! So great job on that McEntire!

All in all, this is a great fun read and I’m sure to pick up the next book in the series, to hit the shelves some time next year.

Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

4 Sep

Series: Vampire Academy, book #5

Published: May 18th 2010 by Penguin/Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 489 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Rose graduates from The Vampire Academy and goes to the court with Lissa and other guardians. It doesn’t take long until she has a new crazy plan in store, to save Dimitri from the undead. I loved this roller-coaster from the beginning to the end all though the end was quite a cliff-hanger this time. Can’t wait to dive into the final book Last Sacrifice.

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My Full Review:

This is the 5th installment of the Vampire Academy Series, a series I have gradually got drawn into, the more books I’ve read. I devoured the previous book Blood Promise, where Rose goes to Siberia in order to find Dimitri and kill him. She fails that mission and ends up having to return to the Vampire Academy, knowing he is still out there in his undead Strigoi state.

Not many pages into Spirit Bound we learn that the tables have turned. Dimitri is now the one chasing Rose, and he is just waiting for her to graduate from the academy so that he can go after her. After the graduation, Rose and Lissa go to the court, along with other newly graduated guardians that are all waiting to receive their real-life assignments.

Rose however, has other things on her mind other than her new status as a guardian. She has heard rumours about someone once having restored a Strigoi back to the living. The one person that may be able to tell her more is Victor Dashkov, who is imprisoned in a high-security jail for his deeds towards Lissa (which you may remember from the first installment). Soon Rose has come up with a plan which includes breaking into Victor’s prison, and well, I won’t say anymore than that.

What I will say is that I loved reading the book. Let me break it up to you in points:

1) Adrian: Rose has started dating Adrian, and all though I am really a hard-core Dimitri fan, I can’t help but feel something for this guy. You can tell how much he cares about Rose, and it’s heart-breaking to watch, because no matter how much Rose tries to tell herself she’s over Dmitri, she is so not.

2) Lissa. Like so many other reviewers have commented, this is the book where Lissa grows a backbone, and it’s about time. We’ve watched Rose doing everything for Lissa (including drawing darkness from her), without really getting anything in return. In this installment, Lissa finally shows us why she is worthy of Rose’s friendship and devotion.

3) Dimitri. Well, I did see that coming, all though maybe not that soon. His depression made very much sense to me. Who wouldn’t feel depressed with those memories haunting you? I only hope he’ll overcome it.

The ending was a huge cliff-hanger that I really didn’t see coming at all. Can’t wait to see what happens to Rose and all my other favorite characters in the final installment The Last Sacrifice! All in all, a great read!

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.

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: Iron King by Julie Kagawa

28 Jun

Series: Iron Fey, book # 1

Published: February 1st 2010 by Harlequin Teen

Details: Paperback, 363 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Meghan ventures into fairy land in search for her kidnapped brother, where she faces many dangers together with her friends. I loved this action-packed book! Great world-building, very well written, wonderful characters and a touch of forbidden romance. Can’t wait to read the sequel Iron Daughter.

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A few chapter in:

The Iron King is a series that has been around for while, with three books out and a forth on its way later this year. I have only heard good things about it, and so I am expecting it to be a good read. Actually, anything after reading Evernight is bound to feel great.

Oh, and this book is also next on my “what to read next” poll, hence why I’m finally picking it up now. As always, thanks to all who voted!!

I’m now a few chapters in, and I’m already in awe over the writing. Now, this is how you tell a story! And yes, I am looking at you Claudia Gray.

Okay, so with that initial praise out of the way. Here’s what I know so far:

Meghan Chase lives far outside on the country side with her mom, her step dad Luke and her little half brother Ethan. Her dad disappeared many years ago, and ever since she’s felt like a guest in her own house, as Luke never truly welcomed her in. Ethan however cares about her, and it’s adorable to watch.

As we enter the story, Ethan is scared, because there are monsters in his wardrobe. Meghan chases this off as one of his imaginary monsters, and heads off to school with her best friend Robbie.

But weird things have only begun, and strange things keep happening as her 16-year old birthday draws closer. It all culminates when Ethan is kidnapped and replaced by a strange creature known as a fairy changeling. Not only that, but her best friend Robbie reveals his true identity as a fairy.

Yep, it seems as if Meghan just stepped through the Rabbit’s hole in Alice in Wonderland. Still, she forces herself to keep it together, because she has a brother to save.

And so, that’s how, a moment later, she finds herself venturing into Fairy Land in search for her brother, accompanied by her ever protective fairy best friend Robbie. A journey that takes a dangerous turn as soon as they step through the portal.

I don’t think she’s been there more than a full 24 hours yet, and already she has been chased by hounds, a dark mysterious horse rider, goblins, a strange water horse and what not else. She’s also met a rather unusual travel companion, a talking cat!

In short, this is just getting more and more interesting. And so far, I am loving it!
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I found a new world that I want to live in: Nevernever in The Iron King.

Because WOW, it’s been some time since I’ve entered a world as fascinating and complex as that of The Iron King. An I’m in awe over the ability to create such a world. I envy you Julie Kagawa!

Yep, like you’ve guessed, I just finished The Iron King. And I feel a bit like I did when I finished The Mortal Instruments Series, which is a strong desire to jump into that world again.

In many ways, these two series share some similarities. A girl who thought she was normal, discovers she’s anything but, while she plunges into a supernatural world she did not know existed, in search of a kidnapped family member. Accompanying her on the journey is her best friend and a dark brooding young man who hate each other’s guts. Both series provide non-stop action, as they are chased by one strange creature after another, jump into several portals/trods and also end up visiting an oracle.

Yet, the similarities never bothered me. On the contrary, I welcomed them. Because I loved the Iron King for the same reasons as the Mortal Instruments. For the wonderfully drawn supernatural world, the quirky characters and of course the romance.

Speaking of similarities, it also shares some similarities with Glimmerglass, with how both heroines (due to mixed parentage) can live in both worlds. All though, while I had problems understanding how that made the heroine potentially powerful in Glimmerglass, it was perfectly clear in Iron King, another proof of what a much better fairy book Iron King is if compared to Glimmerglass.

Okay, so moving on!

The plot reminded me a bit of The Neverending Story, that is, how disbelief causes the death of magical creatures. I loved The Neverending Story as a kid, and so this particular theme really struck a chord within me. I was almost hyperventilating during that last part when they trekked through Machina’s territory, and oh how I suffered with Ash.

The characters were so well-rounded, that I felt as if I was walking side by side with them throughout the book. As so many other have commented, the cat Grimalkin may have been my favorite secondary character. So cool, so cate-like, what’s not to love? All I can say is that it was a true pleasure to get to know this little creature. Oh I may have offended him now by saying “little”. Sorry Grim!

Meghan was a great main character as well, she had some spunk in her, and I loved her determination to get back her brother. The romance did not take a forefront but was still very sweet, and oh so forbidden as well. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. And the ending brought tears to my eyes, because Ethan is just the most adorable character!

There was really only one thing I didn’t quite understand, and that was why they didn’t go with Grim when he offered another safer route to Machina’s fortress? It seemed a bit strange that they would decline his offer.

But that is a small complaint to an otherwise wonderful book. Be assured that I will be continuing with the sequel Iron Daughter in a very near future, as I need to revisit this world again!

Review: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

25 Jun

Series: Jessica, book #1

Published: February 1st 2009 by Harcourt

Details: Hardcover, 351 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

So I finally got around to read this vampire tale about Jessica who finds out that she is betrothed since birth to vampire Lucius of the dangerous Vladescu clan. And I’m glad I did, because this was a truly enjoyable read. Great dialogues and characters. A sequel to be published in Jan 2012.

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A few chapters in:

So I’m finally starting this book. I say finally, because this book has been lying in my TBR pile for over a year! I don’t really know why it took me this long, all though I suspect it had something to do with that dorky and chic lit-sounding book title.

So why starting it now?

Well, it has surfaced as the clear winner in my poll of what book I should read next! Thanks again to all of you who voted!

I’m now a few chapters in. It opens when our heroine Jessica, who is a normal (or so she thinks) teenage girl, notices that she has a stalker, a tall, mysterious and handsome young man, who appears to be following her everywhere she goes.

It turns out that Lucius, as the young man (and stalker) is called, has come from Romania in order to follow-up on a treaty that was made before Jessica was born. A treaty that states that Jessica is to marry Lucius!

Apparently, Jessica’s real Romanian parents, as well as Lucius’, pertained to two powerful and royal vampire clans in Romania. The “marriage treaty” was made all those years ago in order to stabilize the ongoing rivalry between the two clans.

As you can imagine, Jessica has a hard time believing all this. She knew of course that she was adopted, but not much more than that.

I’ve just got to the part now where Lucius has moved in to the guest apartment of Jessica’s house. The two of them don’t really get along that well (yet) . Lucius is trying to blend into Jessica’s school as “the foreign exchange student”, but is failing big time. Not surprisingly, considering his tall stature, long black coat, thick Romanian accent and old-fashioned manners. Jessica is just trying to avoid him at all costs, I mean what else would you do with a guy who is claiming to be a vampire?

In short, I’m guessing I’m in for an exciting read as these two get to know each other better!
 
 

 
 
After finishing the book:

So I finished the book and I thought it was a really enjoyable read! I loved the witty dialogues and watching the developement of the main characters Jessica and Lucius. I especially liked the development of the character Jessica. She gradually transforms from an all American, insecure and quiet teen age girl to a strong-willed courageous vampire heiress during the course of the book. And I never saw it coming! It was that subtle, which is a huge kudos to Fantaskey.

Lucius as a character was intriguing as well, as he has that dark side lurking beneath the surface. He’s got a bit of the Edward Cullen problem going on. Doubting his own soul, believing he’s evil and destroyed for ever, trying desperately to protect his loved one from his dangerous world. Doing so by distancing himself from her.

Does it work?

Mostly, yes it does. Like I said, I was intrigued. I loved his charm and humor, and I loved his development too, from and arrogant and sarcastic prince burdened by traditions and rules, to a teen-age boy who just wants to live a little. I understood his efforts to push Jessica away, for the most part anyway, except for maybe the whole Faith subplot. I mean, was it really necessary to be messing around with Faith? I wasn’t too impressed by that side of him.

In fact, at one point during the Faith episode I wondered what the heck Jessica was doing persisting to be with him after all he put her through. I know I had been running the other direction long before then!

But okay, I know it’s fiction. And I know that Jessica deep down knew that it was all an act. In fact, she was the only one who believed so, which in the end warmed my heart.

The ending wrapped everything up so nicely, that I am wondering if I really want to go ahead and read the sequel Jessica Rules the Dark Side, which is to be published in January next year. I’m afraid that it may be another one of those originally planned stand alones which has been turned into a series to generate more revenue. Sorry Fantaskey, but I’ve been burnt before, see Body Finder Series.

However, I will keep an eye out for the reviews as the sequel is published, hoping that they prove me wrong!

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

19 Jun

Series: Divergent, book #1

Published: May 3rd 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books

Details: Hardcover, 487 pages

My Rating: 5/5

My Summary:

First book in trilogy. In this dystopian world, Tris chooses a faction to live in and the tough initiation ritual begins. This amazing book includes lots of action but also great character development, a wonderful kick-ass heroine and one of the most believable romances I have ever read. In short, WOW what an amazing book! I cannot gush about it enough!! If you read one book this year, read this one!!!

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A few chapters in:

The Hunger Games did to the dystopian fiction in young adult literature what Twilight did to vampires. Namely, increased the popularity of the genre by tenfold!

Since reading Hunger Games, I’ve read a number of dystopian fictions, each time in the hopes of coming across the next book that will blow me away.

Divergent is the next much-hyped debut out there, said to be the next Hunger Games. But do I really dare to believe that’s true?

You see, I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, because I know by now from experience that a hyped-up book doesn’t always equal amazing (see my review of The Maze Runner).

Divergent has however surfaced as the next book to read in my poll (thanks to all who voted!!) and I checked the average score on goodreads (4.55), which is promising. What if it really is the next Hunger Games? Time to find out!

I’m now a few chapters in. Beatrice lives in a society which has been divided into five factions, each faction valuing one personality trait above all others. In Abnegation, where Beatrice lives, they value selflessness more than anything else. Self-indulgence in any form is prohibited, and it’s asked of you that you help everyone else before yourself.

We enter the story when Beatrice has just reached 16 years of age, and hence is about to choose which faction she is to live the rest of her life. Most people simply decide to stay where they are, as it’s known territory for them, and they get to be with their families. In fact, transferring to another faction is very unusual.

Along comes the day when Beatrice has to make that choice and she’s debating with herself. She knows that she never truly fitted into the Abnegation life style, yet is she prepared to leave her family for good?

The decision she makes surprises everyone, most of all herself. And before she knows it, she is taking part of a fierce initiation ritual, together with a few other new-comers. The thing is, if you fail the initiation tests, you end up on the streets as a faction-less, which is a fate almost as cruel as death. In other words, she has to make it, right?

And this is as far as I’ve got.

But wow, so far, I am seriously liking this. I’m only a few chapters in and am already feeling the pull..big time!
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I finished this book at 3.30 am. I had to work the next day. Enough said. This was freaking amazing!!! The kind of book that had me wishing I had a grading system that allowed me to give it more than 5. Because a 5/5 just does not seem enough.

It’s also the kind of book that makes all other books pale in comparison. You know, I almost fell into a slight book depression after reading this one. Because, what now? I knew that anything I’d read in the next couple of weeks (months?) would not be half as good. How depressing is that?

Then again, THANK GOD I did read this one, because WOW what an amazing reading experience it was. I felt like I was completely and totally emerged into the world Roth had created. The book literally swallowed me whole, hence why I got 3 hours of sleep on the night I finished it.

It’s said to be the next Hunger Games. Well, yes there are definitely similarities. For one, there is the dystopian world, then there is Tris, who is a kick-ass heroine and a bit of an underdog who goes through rigorous training and tests with possibly deadly outcomes. The main similarity however was this:

No force in the universe could have made me put the book down.

Do you remember me saying that in the Hunger Games review? Well, folks, for the second time since I started this blog, I am saying it again. This is a book  that you will NOT be able to put down. Period. A word of advise, clear your schedule before starting it!

So enough with my rambling, what was it that made it so gripping?

A combination of things really.

* The Action. Most of the book deals with the initiation rituals, which included plenty of nail-biting action scenes and fascinating ways to test the new recruits, all of which had me racing through the pages.

* The world-building. I loved how complete it felt. There are so many details and characters, all vividly described that I literally felt as if I were walking around in those dungeons myself.

* The main character Tris. It has been some time (perhaps since Katniss) , since I felt so much for a heroine as I did with Tris. She is such a multifaceted character. She’s vulnerable, strong, brave, selfish but also protective, tough but also doubtful. I was with her on every step of the way!

* The secondary characters Christina, Will, Al, Peter, Uriah and Eric. They felt as real and fleshed out as the main characters, having both good and bad traits (well apart from Eric), stemming from different pasts and each with personal motives behind their actions. There is loyalty and encouragement, but also betrayal and mistrust. No one is perfect, just like in the real world.

*The romance. It doesn’t take a forefront, yet is one of the most wonderful romances I have read in some time. I loved the fact that it wasn’t a love at first sight, rather took time to develop slowly.  And I adored their dialogues together, every moment they shared gave me heart flutters. I had to skip back and read their scenes together again, once I finished. That’s how hooked I was. My favorite scene is when he shows her his most vulnerable side in the fear landscape. Let me tell you, my heart was racing along with Tris’s during that scene. Simply amazing.

Overall, I also loved the fact that it felt so unpredictable. Up until the end I had absolutely no idea of what was going to happen. And since I don’t want to destroy that unpredictability for you, I’m going to finish here, before I give anything else away.

All I’ll say is that  if you haven’t read this book yet, what are you waiting for? Go out there and get your hands on it now. You will not regret it!!!!

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

9 May

Series: Unearthly, book #1

Published: January 4th 2011 by HarperTeen

Details:  Hardcover, 435 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

About Clara, an angel-blood who receives her purpose on earth, which involves a boy in her school. All though a somewhat slow plot, I loved reading this one! The well-drawn characters and witty writing won me over. The only tiny issue I had was the non-ending that left too many open threads. Sequel Hallowed to be released next year and cannot wait!

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A few chapters in:

I’m so loving my new poll where you readers can vote what book I should read next. I mean, what better way than that to get great book recommendations?

The last book that you voted for me to read was Nightshade, which earned a stunning 4.5. In other words, I loved it!

Now the time has come to pick up the next book of the poll with the most votes: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. Thanks again to all of you who voted!!

This book created a buzz in the blogosphere when it was released a few months back. It tells the story about an angel, or a part-angel living on the earth. But that’s all I know.

So far, and for some reason, angel stories haven’t made a huge impression on me. I think it has something to do with that angel personality.You know, they’re supposed to be “perfect, flawless, divine, beautiful, all-knowingly, reassuring” and what not else. Which in my book only equals: boring! I’m hoping Unearthly will prove to be different.

Ok, so I’m now a few chapters in. Clara our 16-year old heroine is a part-angel. She lives with her mom and brother (also part angels) in California. Apart from that supernatural fact, they live fairly ordinary lives, like any other people.

Then one night Clara has a very vivid dream about a forest fire and a boy. It turns out that the dream is a message to her of what her purpose will be on this earth. As her mom explains to her, all angels have a purpose which will be revealed to them around that age. Now it’s up to Clara to fulfill her purpose. Which means, she needs to find that boy.

In the vision, she catches the license plate of the car of the boy. Not long after, her mom arranges for the whole family to move to Jackson Hole in Wyoming, as the little town of the license plate is called. All for the sake of Clara’s purpose.

Already, on the first day in her new school, Clara encounters the boy from her vision. And she reacts.. by fainting in front of him, so that he ends up carrying her to the school nurse. Here, I almost rolled my eyes, as I envisioned that whole “we saw each other and now we’re in love” – scenario unfold in the next couple of pages.

That doesn’t happen though. And thank god for that. Instead, after that incident, Clara is experiencing some problems getting his attention again. Christian, as the boy is called, has a girlfriend, and he seems pretty content with keeping it that way.

In other words, apart from Clara receiving her purpose and their big move to Wyoming, nothing much has happened. Yet, I am loving it already!

Why?

Well, the writing and the characters are exceptional, that’s why. Clara is another one of these really cool heroines, with a voice that really strikes a chord within me. She’s real, with good and bad traits, and she’s smart and witty.

The writing reminds me a bit of Richelle Mead, need I say more? Suffice to say that Hand describes everything with just the right amount of quirkiness and irony, so that it makes a really enjoyable read.

Let’s hope the rest of the book stays that way!

  

 

After finishing the book:

So I finished Unearthly , and what can I say? You’ve probably already guessed that I loved it. Yet, the ending left me feeling slightly disappointed, which is why this book doesn’t reach a stunning top grade.

But more on that later. First on what I liked:

Two things: The characters and the writing. Wow! Just wow! I could literally picture them all in front of me, that’s how well portrayed the characters were. Especially Clara who has now moved in among my greatest heroines of all times (yep I see another top 5 list emerging). She was just so real! Worrying about the right things , thoughtful but never whiny, with a healthy relationship to her family, insecure as well as strong, tough, vulnerable and with a great sense of humour. The other secondary characters followed suit,  Clara’s mom, Angela, Wendy, Tucker and Jeffrey. Christian (the guy Clara is supposed to save in her purpose), is probably the character I felt the least for, only because he is portrayed as too perfect. And you know what I feel about those ones..yawn!

Yet, that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book. Which brings me to the next item, the writing. Wow! I loved the wittiness of the descriptions. It didn’t feel forced, as is so often the case when authors try to write witty, rather it felt natural, as if that’s how Clara would have described her story.

I need to include a few paragraphs so that you’ll understand:

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1)  The paragraph below is taken from Clara’s first time alone in a ski lift:

I decide to go for it. I get in line. When I near the front, an employee punches a hole in my ticket.
“You alone?” he asks.
“Yeah.”
“Single!” he shouts toward the back of the line. “We have a single here!”
So embarrassing. I suddenly wish I had goggles.

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2)  And this is from one of Clara’s first meetings with her goth class mate Angela:

I’ve been waiting for maybe five minutes, completely creeped out by this point, when Angela comes bursting through a side door.
“Wow, sorry,” she says. “Orchestra went late.”
“What do you play?”
“Violin.”
It’s easy to imagine her with a violin tucked under her chin, sawing away on some mournful Romanian tune.

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3)  Or this part below is taken from the first time Clara flies:

Of course, I’m not flying so much as coasting over the treetops like a hang glider or a freakishly large flying squirrel. I think the birds in the area are dying laughing watching me try not to crash.


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Do you see what I mean? The book was filled with these kind of  detailed and witty descriptions, that had me chuckling out loud. It was just such a pleasure to read!

As for the plot, I know other reviewers have complained that it was too slow-going. And I can see what they mean, because not that much happened in terms of plot. We get to follow Clara as she adjusts to her new life in Wyoming, finding friends, falling in love, and trying to find out what her purpose is. That’s really all. I suppose this is the downside when you, as Hand did in this case, develop your characters slowly and take the time to describe the setting. Consequently, the plot suffers.

Yet, because of the joy of reading all these fun bits and pieces of Clara’s life, I didn’t care too much that the build-up was rather slow. I suppose another reason why I didn’t care too much was the romance, which was just Wow! Heart-pounding! I loved their chemistry which just sizzled off the pages! And I loved the fact that it took time for them to get to know each other, before they fell in love. It made it all so much more believable. The moments they had together were just adorable! Having finished the book, I even went back and read through those pages again, because I could not get enough of the two of them. Like I said, adorable! And let me tell you, the guy Clara falls in love with is SO swoon-worthy, I was voting for him big time!

Yeah, that’s right, I was voting for this guy, because this book features another one of those love triangles. All though, like in so many others, there is really no question of who Clara will choose. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

Finally, I believe this book would have gotten a 5/5, had it not been for the ending. Because I was expecting more. No, scratch that, I was expecting something. Some explanation, some kind of wrap-up or some resolution. What we got was not so much an ending but a cessation of words. Given the long and slow build-up I was expecting something to be revealed, not only, “oh get the next book and you’ll find out”. I feel about as clueless as I was when I started reading, which doesn’t go down too well with me.

Nevertheless, like I said before, I loved the ride up until the end. And let me tell you, I have very high hopes for the sequel now. Considering the great setting provided in this first novel, my guess is that the sequel will be extraordinary. There is so much potential now! A great premise has been set, with great characters that I truly care about and intriguing clues that have me thinking that there is so much more to the story than we know now. Did I say I had high hopes?

Sequel Hallowed to be published (oh man, that’s a long wait!) sometime next year.

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: 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!

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

10 Feb

Series: Vampire Academy, book # 2

Published: April 10th 2008 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Sequel in the Vampire Academy series. Several strigoi attacks upset the Moroi community. Rose has guy issues and we learn more about Lissa’s ability. I was not addicted by book one, but have to say it is getting better the more I read. Looking forward to read third book in the series, Shadow Kiss.
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A few chapters in:

I’ve been wanting to read this sequel for a while, more out of curiosity than anything else.  You see, this series seems to have taken the whole blogging community by storm – and I feel weirdly left out. I read the first book (Vampire Academy) expecting to feel the same excitement, yet just felt like it was.. okay. Definitely an entertaining read – fun, fast paced and all, but not something to get superexcited about. And nowhere near comparable to Twilight.

So what had I missed?

The only conclusion I could come up with was that I simply hadn’t read enough to get myself addicted. Hence, here I am with the sequel, which I hope will make me jump the fence and join the many Vampire Academy fans out there.

Ok, so I’m now a few chapters in. It starts only a couple of weeks after book one ended. Rose is trying to get over her romantic feelings for Dimitri, her older Russian trainer and Lissa has hooked up with Christian. Not many pages in, on her way to a guardian test, Rose and Dimitri stumble upon a massacre. An entire royal Moroi family have been slaughtered by Strigoi vampires.

Following this terrible event, it’s decided that the safest option for all Moroi (and Damphir’s) at the Vampire Academy is to accomodate them at a royal luxuary ski resort during the upcoming christmas holidays. Something which many students welcome as a pleasant surprise.

Another surprise, is the sudden appearance of Rose’s mother. As a well-known and respected damphir guardian, she has arrived to the academy in order to protect Moroi royal family. Rose’s relationship with her mother can be descibed as frosty (at its best), and sparks literally fly during each one of their encounters.

We are also introduced to a new character, Christian’s charming aunt, who seems very (and perhaps too?) close to Dimitri.

In short, there are lots of little threads that have sparked my curiosity. Moreover, Rose seems more likable in this book, less flirtatious and arrogant. So, it’s looking good.

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well I finished this book fast – in under two days.

Does that mean I’m now officially addicted to the Vampire Academy series?

Well, it’s getting there, I think. It’s not anywhere near the addiction I felt for Twilight. But I did get a bit teary-eyed at the end, and my hands are itching to get the next book Shadow Kiss. So maybe, just maybe the VA addiction will reach Twilight levels at some point. All I can say now is that the series is growing on me.

And here’s why:

If you read my review of the Vampire Academy, you know that I complained about it including too much high school drama, as in too much gossiping and bitching around. Well, I was glad to find out that there is much less of that in Frostbite.

Instead we learn more about the outer workings of the vampire world that Mead has created. The evil Strigoi are a more prominent threat here, and the Moroi’s and Damphir’s are being forced to reevaluate their structures and traditions in order to face that threat. All this I found really intriguing.

As you know, I also complained about Rose’s arrogant and flirtatious nature in Vampire Academy, which was hard to relate to. In Frostbite however, she started to grow on me. She’s still Rose, kick-ass and flirtatious, making the occasional impulsive and stupid mistake, but the big difference is that I’ve started to understand and empathize with her.

The appearance of her mother probably helped. Seeing Rose with her mom, it made it easier to see through Rose’s tough shell, and discover the sometimes small and vulnerable girl hiding beneath. I also liked the fact that Rose started to make a conscious effort to work on her less attractive traits. In short, she is maturing fast, and I like watching the process!

Not only Rose is growing on me, the other characters are as well. In Frostbite, new characters are introduced (Christian’s aunt, Rose’s mom and in particular Adrian!), and old favorites such as Mia, Dimitri and Christian remain. I can’t wait to see where the story will take them.

Lastly, in my review of the Vampire Academy, I called for more background info on Dimitri (Rose’s Russian trainer). While I can’t say I learnt anything new about him, he continues to intrigue me. The bond and chemistry that he and Rose share feels real, which is very good. I’m so voting on these two to get together.

That said, I haven’t fully comprehended why them being together is such a huge issue. I don’t think the age difference is that great. I mean, had he been 34 years old, then yeah we’re talking a major age gap, but 24? No big deal!

And while I understand their reasoning around love getting in the way of protecting Lissa, I’m thinking there has to be a way around that. For instance, would it not help having Dimitri reassigned to a different Moroi? Or would that implicate them never seeing each other?

As you can see, I haven’t fully grasped the impossibility of their relationship. Yet, I enjoyed reading about these two, so in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter. Because, to cut it short, this was a great read!

If the rumours are true (and I believe they are), the third book Shadow Kiss is even better. Hence, I know that I am sure to continue my VA journey in a very near future. I’m certainly feeling the pull..

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

8 Jan

Series: The Infernal Devices, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 479 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series which I LOVED. Set in Victorian London, shape-shifter Tessa is captured by evil warlocks and saved by a group of shadowhunters, among them handsome and arrogant Will. While I loved revisiting this world, the relationship between the two main characters in this book bothered me a little, as did some of the repetitive factors. All in all, a great fast-paced read and a good start to a series, but not as amazing as The Mortal Instruments Series.

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A few chapters in:

As a fan of Cassandra Clare, I was superexcited when I heard that she had written a spin-off series, set in the very same shadowhunter world that I’ve come to love after reading her Mortal Instruments Series. The question was only: was she going to be able to replicate the success that was The Mortal Instruments series?  Well, judging by the many rave reviews it appears as if yes, she has succeeded. And so, I am really excited to finally delve into that world again!

I’m now a few chapters in. Set in the Victorian England, this is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series. Many of the characters are therefore ancestors to Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Co.

The main character however is of unknown family. Her name is Tessa – an american orphan girl – who upon following her brother to London, is captured on arrival and held captive by two weird-looking sisters named The Dark Sisters. It turns out Tessa has a rather unusual talent which the evil sisters intend to use: Tessa can shape-shift into any human form. After weeks in prison, she is saved by the gorgeous and arrogant shadowhunter Will, and taken to the shadowhunter institute in London, where she meets the rest of the members of the shadowhunter family.

And this is where I couldn’t help but start noticing the similarities with the City of Bones. Tessa, like Clary, doesn’t belong in the shadowhunter world, yet is saved and accommodated at the shadowhunter institute seeing as her remaining family (Tessa’s brother as well as Clary’s mother) has disappeared. At the institute Tessa is introduced to the members of the shadowhunter clan, where Will seems like a Jace with brown hair, Jem is the equivalent of Alec (all though straight), and Jassamine is a slightly more bitchy Isabelle.

And this is as far as I’ve got. While I do love diving into this world again, I hope these new characters will differentiate themselves from the ones that I know in The Mortal Instruments. I hate to be comparing them like this, but I just can’t help it! Hopefully, the more I get to know about them, the less comparable to Jace and Co. they’ll seem.

 

 

After finishing the book:

As you know, after reading a few chapters, the similarity to The City of Bones bugged me. However, as I read more, the characters started taking on a life of their own, which meant I could enjoy it for what it was – another entertaining trip into the shadowhunter world of Cassandra Clare.

After finishing it however, I have to admit it lacked that special something that made the Mortal Instruments amazing. What special something? Well, it lacked a romantic lead as appealing as Jace. And there were some repetitive factors. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let me tell you what I loved. As always with Cassandra Clare, she provides a detailed and intricate world-building that makes you feel as if you literally live and breathe within that world yourself, in the midst of all types of supernatural creatures in a London set in the Victorian era. Not an easy feat, but Clare sure pulls this off beautifully. I also love the sharp, interesting and quirky dialogues. But most of all, I think it’s her wonderfully fleshed out characters that stand out for me. After all, she was the author who created my one fictional crush last year – Jace.

In this book the characters are once again wonderfully drawn. There is Tessa with her identity issues, Sophie – the reasonable maid, Jessamine  who struggles against her shadowhunter heritage, the kind and fierce Charlotte and so on. Even if not that much is revealed about them in this first installment, you get a feeling that things are in store for all these characters, and that they will all play a role eventually. And that’s precisely what I like about Clare’s writing.

Yet, there was one character I had an issue with in this book, and that is Will, the potential love interest of Tessa. I first had an issue with him because he is just too similar to Jace in how he keeps the rest of the world at an arm’s length with sarcasm. As you can imagine, anyone too similar to Jace pales in comparison.

Then, as I read on, Will started taking on a slightly different personality than Jace. Which, in a way was good (because I’d hate to be comparing him to Jace), but was also bad, because what was revealed of his personality was not very appealing at all.

Will is like a darker version of Jace, who seems to use sarcasm in order to hide his ugly true self. While Jace (despite his sarcasms), was unable to lie, Will seems unable to tell the truth. All he seems to do is lie and being mean and rude, just for the sake of hurting others.

I don’t care whatever reasons may lie behind his behaviour, or that he occasionally seems to care for Jem. I still don’t think there is an excuse for acting the way he does. Most importantly, he treats Tessa horribly, and I’m actually bound to agree with the maid Sophie when she advised Tessa not go get involved with him.

Jem on the other hand grew on me. There is some actual bonding going on between him and Tessa, which seemed more grounded and real, as Jem (as opposed to Will) is someone you can actually talk to. He seems mature beyond his years, and despite his tragic circumstances he’s above self-pitying which is what seems to be consuming Will. Yet, Will is sure to be the romantic lead, or so I think. The next installment will most likely “explain” his earlier behaviour. The problem is, I’m not sure I’ll buy that explanation.

Lastly, the repetitive factors, some of which I mentioned earlier made for a slightly lower grade. All though the characters eventually took on lives of their own, it still could not take away the fact that some parts of the plot were quite similar to The Mortal Instruments. For instance, there is a questionable parentage of the main heroine, a villain who is raising an army to take down the shadowhunters, a main character discovering she has a powerful talent, a love triangle featuring two guys where one is kind and the other arrogant and so on.

The Bottom Line:

That said, I enjoyed reading it and I definitely plan to read the next installment, Clockwork Prince, out in September next year. It just couldn’t quite compare to The Mortal Instruments, that’s all.

Oh, and on a sidenote, what is it about Magnus Bane that makes him so appealing? I literally squealed when he made an appearance again. One of my favorite characters in this series, that’s for sure!

Review: Absolution by Jennifer Laurens

14 Dec

Series: Heavenly, book #3

Published: October 1st 2010 by Grove Creek Publishing

Details: Paperback 220 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Last installment of the lovely Heavenly series. Zoe is fighting evil spirits, as well as trying to choose between human Weston and angel Matthias. Another wonderful read with all the characters that I’ve come to love. However, as a fan of Weston, I was slightly dissapointed at some turns of events. All in all great but not as amazing as Penitence.

A few chapters in:

Oh, I am so happy!!! I finally got this book in my hands, and believe me, I’ve been eagerly waiting for it ever since I finished the wonderful prequel Penitence. It looks as if this book will continue along the same lines – have only read a few reviews (too afraid of spoilers!) – but those have all confirmed what I was hoping – that Absolution will bring a perfect end to what is turning out to be an amazing trilogy.

Ok, so before I start, let’s just take a few deep breaths, and if I can manage to lower my expectations just slightly that would be good too. At the moment they are skyrocket high, never a good thing as it leaves too much space in there for disappointments.

Right, so it’s just a book, no big deal. May not be exactly what I was hoping for, but that’s OK too.

All good? Ok, let’s read!!!

I’m now a few chapters in. It starts just where Penitence left off, on the day of Brady’s funeral. Zoe and Chase are on their way to Krissy’s house, to talk to Krissy who seemed upset about something. As you may recall from Penitence, Krissy’s father appears to be one evil man, if judged by the many black spirits that constantly encircle his persona. Krissy refuses to tell Zoe what is bothering her, but it I have a strong feeling her father has something to do with it.

Meanwhile, the father of Matthias, the evil Albert, is making Zoe’s family home life a living hell, causing her parents to argue at all times. Will Zoe ever be able to make it stop, and if so, how? She decides to tell her parents the truth about her being able to communicate with spirits. Because if they know that Albert is causing their rages, that may prevent it. Or so she hopes.

And this is as far as I’ve got. As usual I have no clue where the plot will take me. It seems as if Krissy will play a bigger part here, but how? Will Weston return again? Please Laurens, make him return! And finally, will Zoe be able to get rid of Albert, and keep Matthias at the same time?

So many questions. Can they all be answered in less than 200 pages? I truly hope so!

After finishing the book:

It’s taken me a few days to collect my thoughts regarding this book. I liked it, very much even, but it also lacked that special something that made Penitence so amazing. I’m finding it difficult to put my finger on exactly what that was.

Once again, the prose was excellent and I got pulled in immediately – invested as I was in all the characters – as I followed Zoe’s struggles to maintain peace all around herself. Peace, that Matthias father Albert was bent on shattering. As you may recall from Penitence, his attempts at destroying Zoe’s life are interlaced with his goal of hurting Matthias. Some father, right?

Consequently, this last installment takes on a darker tone, as evil spirits swarm just about everywhere around Zoe. Brady resurrects as a black spirit haunting Weston. As hinted earlier, black spirits are constantly encircling Krissy’s dad. And of course there is Albert, stirring up fights in Zoe’s family. A lot of times, it just felt like Zoe went from crisis to crisis, trying desperately to put out fires.

There is also the issue of that choice between Weston and Matthias. Not an easy one, I definitely agree on that. I realized though in Absolution that Zoe’s first and hence deepest love is, and will always be Matthias. No matter how crazy in love Weston is with her, no matter how sweet he is, and how real, he will always be her second choice. And that pained me to see. Weston is going out of his way to reach Zoe. He literally lays his heart out for her to take, and she just goes along with it, takes his heart, but doesn’t truly give anything back. Because, even though she loves him, she still loves Matthias more.

For me, as someone who fell in love with Weston in Penitence, that was a bit of a disappointment, to see Weston treated that way. I mean, poor guy to have to compete against an angel! Matthias is of course as divine as before, (all jealousy now gone) always as forgiving, reassuring and loving as he was in Heavenly. There is nothing bad to say about him, because he is perfect. But just like in Heavenly, I didn’t feel the connection between her and Matthias, not the way I felt Weston. Then again, this might have been just a difference in taste, because I’ve read quite a few reviewers who were team Matthias all the way. So maybe that’s just it. I happened to vote on the other guy this time.

Beware of spoilers:

The ending. Well, it was bittersweet, but once again, I felt more for Weston than I did for Matthias and Zoe.  Because did this mean that Matthias and Zoe one day will be reunited? If so, what about Weston? Is he supposed to just let Zoe go when that happens? Will Zoe ever be able to truly love Weston, as long as she remembers and longs for Matthias? For the sake of Weston I hope that Matthias erased himself. I actually do. As sad as that is.

End of spoilers

The Bottom Line:

All that said, just the fact that I am finding myself this emotional regarding all these characters proves that it is a great series. It’s been some time since I felt this invested in fictional characters, that’s for sure! So even though the direction of the story in this book (and the ending) wasn’t completely what I was hoping for, it is still very much worth the read. All in all, a wonderful series that I am recommending everyone to read!

Review: Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

11 Nov

Series: Heavenly, Book #1

Published: August 15th 2009 by Grove Creek Publishing

Details: Paperback, 296 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

About Zoe whose life changes the day she meets the guardian angel of her autistic sister. This is a story about a family in shambles, interwoven with an epic love story. Great read, with a surprising end that will make you want to read the sequel Penitence right away.

A few chapters in:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. It has received great praise throughout the blogosphere, and the core of the story is paranormal romance. Needless to say, I’m intrigued!

Now only a few chapters in, and I’m already feeling the magnetic pull. I have a feeling this is one of those “read-in-one-sitting” books.

This is the story about 18-year old Zoe. She has a sister, Abria, who is a 5-year-old girl with autism. This is not easy to live with, and has put a strain on the whole family.  They all deal with the burden differently. Zoe’s brother is loosing himself in a haze of weed clouds and Zoe hides her stress in alcohol, parties and boys. Even though I’m only a few chapters in, it’s painful to watch this poor family going downhill, slowly loosing control of their lives and burdened with guilt for not being able to take care of their daughter/sister.

Things are about to change though, and it happens the day Zoe is out frantically searching for Abria, who has, as usual, sprinted off in one of her escape attempts. Suddenly a boy appears with Abria in his hand. Eyeing him suspiciously, Zoe takes Abria from him, thanking him for finding her. Not long after, he appears again, bringing back Abria from another attempted run-away, making Zoe start to seriously question the strangeness of it all.

And this is as far as I’ve got, but like I said, it’s pulling me in as I’m writing this. Now gotta go back to reading!

After finishing the book:

Ok, so just finished it. I admit I didn’t read it one sitting like I expected to, but close enough. So what did I think?

Well after having read an endless stream of glowing reviews, my bar was set exceptionally high. I was expecting nothing less than a mind-blowing rollercoaster WOW-sort of book. Was it all that?

No, it wasn’t. Yet, it was a great read, and a great start to a series. I’m jumping on the sequel as we speak, which is always a good sign.

As for the plot, as hinted earlier, this is the story about Zoe and her family, all dealing with the autistic Abria in various ways. Pretty early on in the book, Zoe meets Matthias, the guardian  angel of Abria, and immediately finds herself drawn to him.

From there you would think an epic love story is about to be formed. And yes, there is romance, but I would say the core of this book is Zoe’s family and the issues they are trying to work through. During large sections of the book, Matthias is completely absent, and instead we are dealing with Zoe’s and her brother’s addictions, an indirect result of their parents never-ending focus on Abria.

At first I was surprised that the family played such a forefront in this book, all their frustrations, faults, love and affection for each other displayed on the pages. It felt like having a front row into a real family’s most private sphere. I read somewhere that Laurens had personal experience with an autistic child, and that you can tell. I doubt anyone without the experience would have been able to portray the complexity of emotions you would feel towards an autistic child. This book really gives you a window into how that would feel like, and it’s heart-breaking to watch.

Zoe is barely keeping her head above water when she meets Matthias, and he changes her in many ways, basically making her a better person. Which shows, in her actions towards her family, and her changing relationship with her best friend Britt.

Matthias himself is as divine as angels go, and sorry for saying this but a teeny-weeny boring. Radiating warmth, reassurance, calmness, beauty and absolutely perfect. No wonder Zoe falls in love with him. As for me, I’m hoping for at least one flaw, as to make him a bit more interesting.

As the story moves on, there appears to be some heavenly rules to follow. But here we are kept in the dark, as Matthias consistently evades any of those important questions. That frustrated me a bit. I wanted at least a few answers, and I don’t like it when too much is hanging in the air. And what about Chase? I still haven’t figured out the role he will play. I assume and hope he will show up in the sequel.

The end. Well that really threw me. You’ll understand when you get there. And is it only me, but I had a tiny lingering feeling that Matthias’s intentions may not have been all that good towards the end. If you’ve read it you might know what I’m talking about? Or am I just imagining this, because after all he is an angel! Unable to have anything but good intentions, right? Yet, it was all a bit too convenient, wasn’t it?

The bottom line:

To cut it short,  the ending definitely left me confused, hence why I’m now throwing myself over Penitence!

Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

2 Nov

Series: Darkest Powers, book # 2

Published: May 1st 2009 by HarperCollins

Details: Hardcover, 368 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Great sequel to The Summoning, where we follow Chloe and her supernatural friends on the run from the evil people of the Edison Group. Includes some sweet moments of Chloe and Derek together. Not many questions answered though – guess that will finally be provided in the last installment The Reckoning.

A few chapters in:

If you’ve read the first book in this series, The Summoning – you’ll remember the cliff-hanger ending. And it starts just where it left off. Chloe is once again locked up by the very same people who ran the Lyle House, which she ran away from in The Summoning.  So she is back to where she started, and worse still because this time they are aware of her being a threat, and so she is under constant surveillance.

She may have someone there who can still help her though. Liz, her former room-mate at the Lyle House who was taken away, and now appears as a ghost whenever Chloe summons her. But does that mean Liz is dead?

Meanwhile, Derek and Simon are on the run, and Dr Davidoff and his team are eager to find them. While pretending to help Dr Davidoff, Chloe plots her own escape plan, finding an unexpected ally in Tori – her enemy from the Lyle House.

And this is as far as I’ve got, but it’s promising. What I like the most so far is the fact that I have no idea where this is heading. Apart from Chloe finding the brothers, which I assume will happen soon, everything else is a huge question mark. Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book last night and I’m left with exactly the same feeling I had when I finished the prequel – I wouldn’t call it amazing but it’s definitely a solid 4, as in, a great fast-paced read.

The plot is quite simple. As hinted above, pretty early on, Chloe and Tori manage to escape the Edison group (which is what the rulers of the Lyle House are called). Soon after, they meet up with the guys. During the rest of the book, we basically follow them while on the run.

Just like in The Summoning the plot trots along in a great pace (neither too fast nor too slow) so that you’re always turning pages to find out what will happen next. Yet there is room for character development, mostly for Chloe and Derek who get some time alone here. As a fan of Derek, I really enjoyed reading those passages. There is no romance yet, but I sure hope that will happen eventually, because they are just so adorable together!

The Bottom Line:

All in all, I enjoyed it just about as much as The Summoning. The only negative aspect was that it felt like a middle book, essentially a filler to provide us with character development and a plot that merely served as an instrument to lead us up to the grand finale in book three. Not much happened, apart from the escape and the final pages, and I had expected more questions to be answered. Yet, I wasn’t too bothered by all of this seeing as I’ve come to like the characters so much.

So, what now? Well, I definitely have to get my hands on The Reckoning – and that quick – as I’m anticipating an even better read there than the first two, what with the grand finale and all – which hopefully (please please please), will include Derek and Chloe getting together!

Review: The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen

23 Oct

Series: No, stand-alone

Published:  April 6th 2006 by Puffin

Details: Paperback, 374 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Beautiful and heart-felt story about Macy who after her father’s death shuts down emotionally. Problem is, everyone else thinks she is fine. This goes on until she crosses paths with the chaotic but warm Wish catering crew and learns to live again. I laughed, I cried, my heart felt with Wes and Macy. In short, a wonderfully told story. And yes, I am now officially a Sarah Dessen fan!

A few chapters in:

I’ve been reading quite a few young-adult novels these last couple of months, and consequently I’ve  also come across Sarah Dessen. It’s impossible not to, as she is somewhat of a legend in the young-adult literary market. She has published a number of feel good novels, usually coming of age stories about teen-age girls with various issues. In doing so, she’s created a little following of admirers, raving about her books just about everywhere in the blogosphere. So after reading the 111th five-star review of a Sarah Dessen book, I made my decision. This is it. I’m going to read at least one Sarah Dessen book, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Once that decision was made I only had to pick one of her books. Which didn’t turn out to be so easy. Every Sarah Dessen-fan has a favourite novel – and those favourite titles vary about as much as the collection itself. After reading a couple of reviews and checking the goodreads overall reviewer-grade I finally settled for this one (currently grade 4.29 which is promising).

I am now 100 pages in and I am liking it so far. The writing style reminds me slightly of Simone Elkeles in how easy it flows, detailed but not too detailed, and with a great pace. The characters are likeable and easy to relate too. I got caught in the story almost immediately and am already finding it hard to put it away.

The main character is Macy Queen, also known as the girl who saw her dad die of an heart-attack. Even though one and a half-year has passed, she has not recovered. The problem is, everyone else thinks she has. Instead of fully grieving she put the cap on, and went on about life as if she was handling it fine, not wanting to trouble anyone. Appearance got important, as that was the only thing she could really control in order to convince everyone she was fine. She met her boyfriend Jason, who was as concerned with perfectionism and appearance as her. And all was well, on the surface at least.

Until summer comes and Jason heads off for a summer camp, leaving Macy alone to take care of his dead-boring library job. One day Macy crosses paths with the Wish catering crew at one of her mother’s open house events. They are a mix of craziness, chaos and warmth – all of which Macy has been avoiding ever since her father’s death. But she is tired of living a life devoid of emotions, and decides to take the leap and get to know these people better.

That’s as far as I’ve got but I’m liking it..a lot!

After finishing the book:

Ok, so I’m officially a Sarah Dessen fan. I loved it.

The funny thing is, not much happens in terms of plot. What I described earlier was basically it. Macy shuts down after her father’s death, then meets this new group of people, among them the artistic good-looking Wes, and starts living again.

Yet, it was such a great read. The characters are all so alive and well-rounded I found myself caring for them pretty much straight away.

What I also loved was the relationship between Wes and Macy. In so many YA books I’ve read lately, the romance happens out of thin air, basically one look is exchanged and then boom they are in love. In this book however it’s well founded and it feels real. They get to know each other first, they open up, become friends and first after a while does it become romantic. That’s the way it should be.

It also deals with grief – how we all grieve differently and how it’s important to accept that. And it deals with fears of letting people in – of getting hurt, but how rewarding it can be if you dare to be yourself and let people in. Macy shuts off because she is afraid that other people can’t handle it if she shows them her true self. It turns out others can handle it just fine.

The Bottom Line:

Essentially, this book touches on a lot of truths in life that we are all aware of but that sometimes seems so hard to put in practice. Things such as really talk to people you care about – even if it seems hard.

In short, it’s such a lovely book – sad, funny and hopeful. It made me want to go hugging everyone I care about and tell them how I really feel. Life is too short not to do otherwise.

Also, it made me want to go straight out and get my hands on another Sarah Dessen book, because wow she really is something!

Review: Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

21 Oct

Series: Touch, book #1

Published: December 16th 2008 by Hyperion

Details: Hardcover, 252 pages

My rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Similar plot to Twilight, as in girl gets rescued by mysterious boy in near car accident at the school parking lot, then is teamed up as lab partners with said boy, who acts strange around her. But despite the similarities, it holds its own, because it is well written, with witty dialogue and with a very likable heroine. I really enjoyed this book. Sequel is called Deadly little lies.

My Full Review:

I heard from other reviewers that this book was a real page-turner. Which is exactly what it was. I read it in one sitting, and that was not my intention when I sat down with it.

When I first started reading it I was struck by the similarities to Twilight.  Camelia, the heroine is saved in a near car accident at the school parking lot by a mysterious guy, then teamed up with said guy as lab partners in class. This guy, Ben, is mysterious and an outcast in school. And all though not vampire, he’s got this whole “if I get too close to you I might kill you” kind of thing going on. Pretty much like Twilight.

Yet, somehow it works, and I got sucked into the story anyway. A number of reasons to this:

Firstly, I liked the heroine. She’s witty, tough and has got a reasonable voice. I could feel myself agreeing with most of her decisions. Except for possibly putting herself into the most dangerous situations, but I guess there would be no story otherwise. I also grew fond of her two friends, real funny the way they kept bickering at each other.

There is also a stalker following Camelia, and his diary notes are inserted here and there so that we get to follow his twisted thoughts. That was really creepy and had me on the edge of my seat most of the time. The identity of the stalker is unknown. Of course, seeing as the weird phone calls and letters start about the same time as Ben arrives at her school makes Ben a primary suspect. Yet, we don’t know until the very end, and I for one, was surprised to find out who it was.

The one thing where it may have been lacking slightly for me was the chemistry between Camelia and Ben. Seeing as we don’t get to know that much about Ben it’s hard to follow how they are so connected. I didn’t feel it. Maybe it develops into something more in the following books. I hope so.

Ben’s strange abilities are also somewhat fuzzily explained, and I didn’t completely understand why it was so dangerous for him to be touching Camelia.

Nevertheless, because of great suspense and a likeable heroine I still very much enjoyed reading this first installment of the Touch series, and I look forward to reading the sequel Deadly Little Lies soon!

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

29 Sep

Series: Paranormalcy, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Anticipated debut about Evie, who works for the IPCA, an agency which controls paranormal creatures in the world. She meets shapeshifter Lend and things spiral out of control. Great light, quirky and funny read, a nice contrast to the other doom-and-gloom epic paranormal romances out there. Very enjoyable read!

My Full Review:

A lot of hype surrounded this debut, which has earned praise from authors such as Lisa McMann and Becca Fitzpatrick, and a whole lot of rave reviews at the book blogs. Needless to say, I was really happy to finally get hold of a copy!

The heroine Evie is working for IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency which is an organization aiming to monitor and control the paranormal creatures of the world. You could think of it as similar to the organisation in Men in Black, although they of course monitored aliens. Evie is useful to the IPCA as she can see through all kinds of glamour that paranormal creatures use to blend into the human world.

She is an orphan and has been living with and working for the agency practically her whole life. Her best friend is a mermaid who works there as a secretary and her boss Raquel is kind of her substitute mom. Oh, and there is Reth, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a fairy.

Yep, Evie is not the most normal teen out there. Yet normal is what she craves. She wants other teenagers (humans!) to hang out with, a highschool to go to (with lockers!), a driving license and boys to flirt with. Instead, she regularly escapes into her beloved tv-series Easton Heights for a dose of (what she thinks is) ordinary teenage life.

Still, she doesn’t reflect too much upon these issues until things change. A mysterious unknown creature called Lend breaks into the agency and is caught and detained at the IPCA quarters. Lend is a shape-shifter who can take on almost any form. Evie, not surprisingly, is the only one who can see through his various glamours to his real form.

Lonely as she is, and curious by nature, she starts a habit of visiting Lend in his prison cell. Soon they develop a crush on each other. Triggered by Lend, she starts questioning things in her life she had never thought about before. It turns out everything is not what they seem. Meanwhile, something is killing paranormal creatures and the agency is getting worried. Somehow this is all linked to Evie and her past.

My thoughts:

First of all, I was surprised to find that the tone of the book is light. The heroine Evie is explaining everything in a jokingly kind of way, as if not really taking it that seriously. It starts already in the opening scene where she makes fun of a vampire who is about to kill her.

“Oh, stop pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?”

It is definitely refreshing to find a light tone in the narrator’s voice, a nice contrast to all the doomed, epic, dark, haunting and angst-ridden paranormal love stories I’ve read in the last year. I was expecting a darker tone though so it took me a couple of chapters to get used to Evie’s jokes. At first they felt forced, but eventually I warmed up to her bubbly, quirky personality and found myself chuckle out loud a couple of times.

Likewise it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the world White has created. There is a lot of info thrown at you at first. The whole idea behind the IPCA has to be explained, as well as Evie’s role in there and of course every paranormal creature you may have ever heard about is present in this book, so that has to be included too. I felt a bit like I did when I started reading City of Bones, like there was so much world-building going on I found myself detaching from the plot. It didn’t last long though. Once you get used to the idea of all that paranormal activity going on at the same time, it becomes easier to focus on the plot again, and get sucked into the story.

Once I did get into the story, I got into it fast. I loved so many aspects of it. The characters felt multi-dimensional and real . It’s easy to warm up to the heroine, who is strong and insecure at the same time. She’s bubbly with life and says what she thinks, yet she is also insecure and is struggling with loneliness and a feeling of not belonging anywhere. The growing bond between her and Lend is believable. They are honest and straight-forward to each other right from the start. Of course she is the only one who has ever seen Lend for what he really is – which yes, may sound cliché, but actually warmed my heart!

I was equally intrigued by the mystery surrounding the plot. Reth, the fairy seems bent on taking Evie’s heart but what are his intentions? What is the role of the IPCA? What is the creature who is taking out paranormals? And how is Evie’s past linked to all of this?

While alternating between all these plotlines and the growing relationship between Evie and Lend, there was not one boring moment. I was literally glued to the pages until the very end. The ending left me pretty satisfied, all though some questions were left unanswered. I am still wondering about the role Reth played.

One minor dissapointment though was the climax at the end, which I thought was solved too easily, and without being properly explained. Sorry to be talking in riddles but I want to avoid spoilers. For now, all I’ll say is that I was wondering about the logic behind one particular action, attempted and not carried through, by the villain. It didn’t make sense to me.

The Bottom Line:

Despite those question marks, it was still a very entertaining read. Kudos to White for creating such a fun refreshing new take on the young adult paranormal genre! (Something which is quite an accomplishment in the crowded ya paranormal market). I can’t wait to dive into this paranormal world again, which should happen in about a year. The next book Supernaturally is out in the fall 2011.