Tag Archives: angels

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.

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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: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

15 Dec

Series: Hush Hush, book #2

Published: October 19th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Details: Hardcover, 432 pages

Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

I loved Hush Hush, mostly because of the dangerous and intriguing character Patch. Unfortunately he is absent for most part of this sequel, and Nora has turned into an irrational, angry, whiny and weak heroine. I’m sad to say that this book was a disappointment. Still an easy read, and I remain curious to read the conclusion to the series in Silence, out next year.

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A few chapters in:

Ever since I read Hush Hush some time ago, I have been eagerly waiting to read this sequel. Fitzpatrick has a way with words that make me feel as if I’m watching the story unfold from the front row of a cinema theatre. It’s that vivid. Consequently, I just know that the sequel will be as entertaining as Hush Hush was. Plus, it has got great reviews.

I’m now a few chapters into Crescendo, and Fitzpatrick does not disappoint. I’m pulled into the story immediately as I follow Nora’s father during the last terrifying hours of his life (in the prologue).

Fast forward to present day and the troublesome relationship of Nora and Patch. It’s been two months since Patch saved Nora’s life and was given back his wings and a place as a guardian angel. You would have thought that this achievement would put a stop to any doubts regarding Patch’s intentions, seeing as he is now clearly working for the good guys. Or is he? Nora is still doubting pretty much everything about him – primarily his feelings for her.  All doubts are of course stemming from the fact that she still doesn’t know much about him. Patch isn’t (as we know by now), the most talkative guy out there.

When Patch appears to have secretly visited Nora’s archenemy Marcie Millar, and refuses to explain it upon Nora’s confrontation, it all becomes too much and Nora breaks up with him.

As much as I love the bad boy character in Patch, I have to say I rejoiced when that happened, because from what I saw, that did not seem like a healthy balanced relationship to me, Nora being way too attached to a seemingly distracted/busy/arrogant Patch. So way to go Nora!

I know there may be ulterior motives behind Patch’s actions (angels stuff that we are yet unaware of), but he has to start including Nora into his thoughts, or else how is she ever going to be able to trust him? As it is now, she’s better off without him.

At the same time, Scott, an old childhood friend moves back to town. At first, I expected him to immediately throw himself over Nora, creating that love triangle we love so much in young adult fiction these days. But, that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, Scott – all though good-looking, is almost rivaling Patch with his grumpy attitude and shady past. It’ll be interesting to see how he will fit into the story, because at the moment I have no idea.

From the prologue, I am also guessing that Nora will start investigating her father’s death, hopefully casting some light on the events that led up to it, including her link to the Nephilim.

All in all, I’m guessing I’m in for an exciting read! 

 

 

After finishing the book:

It started out so great, with so much potential. We had the charismatic Patch, and his dramatic relationship with Nora. Throw in a new boy in town with secrets of his own – Scott. While underneath it all an outwordly and dangerous angel and Nephilim world is lurking.

Instead, what did we get?

An absent Patch, who made an appearence here and there occasionally, mostly to save Nora or Marcie from various situations. But certainly not enough apearences to keep me interested. The new guy Scott turned out to be a joke. Rude, strange, weak. A side character just like Elliot in Hush Hush. I was simply not  interested in him. Of the nephilim / angel world we only got glimpses here and there, except for the last three chapters when some of it is explained.

So, if nothing of the above, then what was the plot about?

To tell you the truth, I am still not completely sure of that myself. At the beginning Nora broke up with Patch, because she doubted his feelings for her (which I could understand). The rest of the book is mainly about Nora’s emotional turmoil following that break-up. It was quite confusing to read. It felt like listening to a confused friend going on and on about an ex-boyfriend post break up. That oh, she loves him, but they can’t be together, but he is a jerk, yet he is the best that ever happened to her, and she wants him, but it would never work out between them, and either way he is a jerk.. and so on and so forth.

I did understand the emotions Nora went through (break-ups are tough), especially seeing as she is young, and Patch was her first love. Yet, it’s hard to sympathize with such an irrational and whiny heroine. She keeps making stupid decisions, and as such ends up in the most ridiculous scenarios, breaking into numerous bedrooms/flats/cars, sneaking, stealing and lying.

After seeing her behaving this way for a while I started to feel that she wasn’t much better than her archenemy Marcie herself. Worse still, I was beginning to wonder what the heck Patch ever saw in her. And that can’t be good. Because Patch’s and Nora’s relationship was the driving force behind me turning pages in Hush Hush.

The Bottom Line:

So to sum it up, my hopes for Crescendo were that it was going to take a step forward, delving more into Patch’s background, character growth, the world of angels and nephilim and more about Nora’s part in the whole scheme of things.

Instead it felt as if the plot got stuck stomping at the very same spot, where we left off in Hush Hush. There was yet again a stalker attempting to harm Nora, there were the same trust issues regarding Patch, and Nora kept making the same stupid decisions putting herself in numerous dangerous situations, again.

As if nothing had been learnt from the events in Hush Hush. At the end of it, I was starting to lose interest, and frankly couldn’t care less about Nora – whether she was going to make it or not and who the bad guy was.

All that said, I still read it quickly, as it is very well written. I haven’t changed my mind regarding Fitzpatrick’s writing. She knows how to write, no question about that. I am also still curious to see what will happen next, (curious but no longer dying to know) and I will probably read the final installment Silence, to be released in the fall next year. My expectations however have now been lowered. Which may not always be a bad thing. I might enjoy Silence more. Let’s hope so.

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: Penitence by Jennifer Laurens

18 Nov

Series: Heavenly, book #2

Published: April 29th 2010 by Grove Creek Publishing

Details: Paperback, 322 pages

My Rating: 5/5

My Summary:

While Heavenly was great this sequel was hands-down amazing!! A must read! Not one boring moment, what with Zoe seeing both good and bad spirits and trying to choose between two equally amazing guys. Involves the first love triangle I read in a while that actually feels real! Loved it from start to finish. Be aware though of abrupt ending. Last book called Absolution.

A few chapters in:

This is the sequel to Heavenly, which ended in such a way that it is nearly impossible not to want to continue this series straight away. I enjoyed Heavenly, for the good writing and characterisation, but was a bit frustrated with all the questions hanging in the air. Hopefully, now I will get some answers!

Before writing anything else, please be aware of that if you haven’t read Heavenly this post will contain some serious spoilers!

In the last pages of Heavenly we followed Zoe in paradise as she reunited with Matthias. She felt overjoyed to finally be able to share his world, but also sad of course, for leaving her family behind. Conflicting emotions to say the least.

This is why I threw myself over Penitence, anticipating a great read about Zoe’s discovery of the world of Matthias. But I was mistaken. Right at the beginning, Zoe’s body starts claiming her back. The doctors at the hospital are attempting to revive her, and as they are succeeding, she has no choice but to return to mortality, thus leaving Matthias behind.

Hence, this book really starts off in a hospital bed. Zoe is, much to her family’s delight, slowly recovering from the terrible car accident that almost took her life. Once again, she’s torn by conflicting emotions, happy to be reunited once again with her beloved family, yet achingly sad to be separated from Matthias. Speaking of which, where is he? Ever since she left paradise he is nowhere to be seen, and she fears that she may never see him again.

Yep folks, this is as far as I’ve got, but I have to say it’s promising. I’m starting to grow really attached to Zoe’s family, what a lovely bunch of people! And I’m looking forward to see what will happen next, because at the moment, I have no clue!

After finishing the book:

I know that after reading Heavenly, I was slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great read. But it lacked that extra something that makes a book amazing.

Well folks, Penitence more than well made up for that. WOW! That’s all I have to say. This is what I call AMAZING. Unputdownable! I kept reading into the wee hours of the night, always thinking – just another chapter then I’m done. Yeah right! Somehow it was magically 3 o’clock by the time I went to bed, and I had to work the next day!

So after all this preamble, why was it amazing? I’ll try to assemble my thoughts, always proving more difficult when I’ve read a WOW-book. I wonder why that is?

First, let’s start with the obvious. Laurens proved in Heavenly that she writes great effortless prose with wonderfully fleshed-out characters. What I loved in Heavenly was that like in real life, people aren’t perfect. Everyone comes with good and bad traits, and in the end it’s the choices we make that define us. This continues in Penitence, as all the characters expand into real people with backgrounds, motives and choices to make, including secondary characters such as Krissy and Chase. Consequently, I loved reading about them all!

Secondly, the unpredictability. I thought I knew where this was heading. Boy was I wrong! And boy did I like being wrong! I love it when I have no clue, and it feels as if I’m on the same rollercoaster ride of emotions as the heroine, not knowing what to expect from one minute to the next. Wonderful!!

Thirdly, the love triangle. This phenomenon seems to be implemented in every other young adult series these days, but they usually feel fabricated, as if it’s thrown in there just to create some emotional drama. We know pretty much right from the start who the heroine will pick.

Now, that was not the case here. I had no clue. After finishing it, I still have no clue. I won’t reveal who the other boy is who is viewing for Zoe’s attention in Penitence, but he is something else. Most importantly, he presents a possibility for Zoe to experience love on earth, which is precisely what Matthias can never offer her. And he’s gorgeous, a turned-around Casanova who wears his heart on his sleeve. Oh my, I melted!

Matthias is still perfectly divine and glorious. I know I complained about that perfection in Heavenly, and called for some flaws to make him interesting. Well, the love triangle solved that problem as it brought out the jealousy in him,  which strangely enough made him that much more intriguing!

Consequently, I felt as torn as Zoe was. All though, to be honest, I think I may be leaning more towards the human boy. Their growing relationship in Penitence is the core of this book. It felt grounded and real, starting very slowly as Zoe is struggling with trust issues. After all, this boy wasn’t the nicest character in Heavenly. But I believed in their chemistry and devoured every moment they had together, more so than between Zoe and Matthias in Heavenly.

The bottom line:

Finally, I loved all the subplots, the evil Albert, the black spirits, Brady and Britt, Chase and Krissy and of course Zoe’s family in the background. All of this combined made an action-packed yet emotional drama. There was not one boring moment, hence the page-turner effect!

My only minor criticism is the abrupt ending, that felt as if the writer just dropped the pen mid-page. But given the wonderful ride until that page, I cannot but give this book anything less than 5 stars. I’m now eagerly waiting to read the final book in this series, Absolution!

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: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

5 Aug

Series: Georgina Kincaid, book #1

Published: March 1st 2007 by Kensington

Details:  Paperback, 343 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

Start of a series, by same author as Vampire Academy. About a succubus who seduces and pleasures mortal men (while sapping their life energy), but also longing for what she can’t have, a true love. This was ok, not as bad as Bitten, but not great either. Good writing but a weak plot. I may read another one in the series to see if it gets better.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Succubus (n.) An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men. Pathetic (adj.)

A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore–free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…

My thoughts:

This book is written by the same author as The Vampire Academy, which is an highly acclaimed vampire series. I’ve also read a couple of good reviews and so I decided to give it a go, despite the synopsis which sent off a couple of alarm bells.  You see, it revolves around  a succubus, who feeds of sex from mortal men. It felt like this could be one of those adult romance type of novels, which really are porn disguised in a paranormal romance package.

I’m relieved to say that no, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, of course there is some sexual content, as we are dealing with the life of a succubus, but it never felt like it was too much. It was there to move the plot along. So in that aspect, all good.

I like the writing style as well. It wasn’t poetic or anything like that. But it was kind of easy-going. It had a flow which made you get into the story very easily.

Still, despite all this, I wasn’t blown away by the book. And I’ll get to why in a moment.

The main character Georgina is a charming and witty girl who works at a book store in Seattle, living a relatively normal life. She is also a succubus, which means she feeds of sex with mortal men, in which she sucks their life energy.

She hates it though and refuses to destroy good mortal men, and as such, prefers feeding of scums, guys with low moral values. Her friends include, apart from the mortals working in the book store, a vampire, a demon and an angel.

When we are introduced into the story, Georginas favorite author has just arrived to town. A charming guy called Seth. And here begins her struggles with liking him but not wanting to give him too much encouragement, because obviously any sort of physical contact would be impossible, seeing as that would destroy Seth.

Seth is not the only love interest though. There are several other guys around in this book, all utterly charmed by Georgina of course seeing as she is a very attractive woman, due to her shape-shifting abilities (as part of her being a succubus).

While Georgina is running around not wanting to get too close with any of the guys that she likes, yet doing exactly that, a murder mystery is going in Seattle. Someone is killing immortals, i.e. vampires, demons etc. And somehow all this is linked to Georgina. She’s getting these mysterious notes from someone who appears to be the killer.

So yes, you might have guessed it already.. I thought the plot was pretty weak. I didn’t believe in the murder mystery – it seemed to have only been thrown in there in order to create some suspense. It also got a bit tiring with Georgina’s all love interests. I mean, if she had such an issue with guys being attracted to her, why not just turn of the charm or shape shift into a less attractive woman? Problem solved! Also, the love interest Seth felt quite bland. Yes, he was a nice guy but he lacked charisma.

I did however root for one side character. I won’t say who, but if you read the book you might guess who I’m talking about. I am kind of curious to see if he will play a bigger part in the books to come. So even though I wasn’t too impressed by the start of this series, I think I might read another to see if it gets better.