Tag Archives: fairies

Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

15 Nov

Series: Hex Hall, book #2

Published: March 22nd 2011 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 359 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

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

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Synopsis:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

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

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My Thoughts:

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

A miracle in itself.

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

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

My interest was piqued.

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

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

Let me give you a few examples:

On Sophie’s dad being British:

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

Or when Sophie finds out about the betrothal:

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

Or the snarky remarks between Sophie and Archer:

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

Entertaining indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

10 Oct

Series: Hex Hall, book #1

Published: March 2nd 2010 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 323 pages

My Rating:  3.5/5

My Summary:

Light and fun read about Sophie, who after casting a particulary bad spell gets sent to Hex Hall, where she learns one or two things about the magical world and about herself. This is a Harry Potter for girls, with a distinct teen-age feel to it. As a 30+ year old, I found it slightly too immature. Yet because of the witty voice of Sophie, and a good pace, it’s still an entertaining read. Sequel is called Demonglass.

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Synopsis:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

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My Thoughts:

I remember saying in my review of A Great and Terrible Beauty that it was described as a Harry Potter for girls.

Well, scratch that. This is the Harry Potter for girls!

Let’s see:

  1. The main character Sophie is sent off to a boarding school for magical folk.
  2. Said school is essentially a pale version of Hogwarts, with ghosts floating around, furniture that change shapes, spooky bathrooms and classes featuring subjects such as The History of Warlocks and Transformation.
  3. Like Harry, Sophie was brought up in the human world, hence is a complete novice when it comes to all things magical.
  4. Like Harry, Sophie is famous in the magical world, given her family status, and I won’t say anymore here due to spoilers.
  5. Like Harry, Sophie is special and has a dark streak to her witch craft, which makes her not only a prime target for evil forces, but also has her doubting her own goodness.
  6. Like Harry, Sophie has a tendancy to get herself into trouble, with pretty much everyone at school, earning her several punishments and detentions.
  7. Like Harry, Sophie find herself an archenemy pretty much straight away.
  8. Like in the Harry Potter books, the plot revolves around students getting attacked at school by a mysterious evil force.

Well, isn’t it obvious where Hawkins got her ideas from? I really felt as if I was reading a girl-version of Harry Potter.

A very light version though, which lacked the depth that made Harry Potter such an engrossing read. You see, the theme dealt with here (as in Harry Potter) is quite dark. A character actually dies in this book. Still, because of the light tone of the book, this event never affected me. I didn’t feel the tragedy that the loss of that character was.

Compare that to my reaction to the fourth Harry Potter book where at the end of the book, a character died. I remembering being shocked, as a heaviness settled on me. I just couldn’t believe it had happened. And I certainly felt the grief of Harry and everyone around him.

Hex Hall could have been all that, but instead settled on being just a light, fun and easy read. Something which I liked, but didn’t devour.

Being a girl-version of Harry Potter, the romantic lead is also obvious, pretty much from the start. The romance (or crush as I prefer to call it)  was cute, but that’s about it. Sophie was a well-rounded character and a fun voice to follow. Archer however, felt a bit too one-dimensional for me. He was hot. He was mysterious. He was every girl’s crush. But then what? I would have liked to know more about him. The ending however promises more, and I have to admit I am curious to see how it develops.

Finally, I should warn the adult readers, that the book has a teen-age feel to it, and at times I felt too old (and rightly so, since I am much older than the target audience). I appreciate that Sophie’s voice felt so close to her age, not one year more or less than her 16 years. So kudos to Hawkins for portraying a teen that realistically. However, for an adult reader, it came across as a bit too immature at times.

In fact, I believe the extent of enjoyment of Hex Hall depends on the reader’s age. Say if you’re a teen or early tween, it will most likely rate 4-5 stars. If you, like me, are 30+, the grade is more likely to end up around a 3.

The sequel is called Demonglass.

Review: Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

1 Sep

Series: Books of Faerie , book #1

Published: October 1st 2008 by Flux

Details: Paperback, 325 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About gifted musician Deirdre who meets and falls in love with mysterious Luke, who may or may not be a one of the faeries who are after her. Too many plot holes, a romance that happened way too fast, a Mary Sue heroine and underdeveloped secondary characters made this a boring read. Only the writing was good.

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My Full Review:

Meh! That was my reaction after finishing this book. To be honest, I had a hard time finishing it since my mind kept wandering off as soon as I opened the book. Not a good sign at all.

Why?

A couple of reasons:

Firstly, the romance is of the “fall at first sight” kind, and geez am I getting tired of those type of romances. Deirdre falls head over heels with this outwordly guy Luke, who shows up out of thin air one day to play with her on a competition. All we know of Luke is that he is good-looking and seems to be hiding something. Not much to fall in love with if you ask me. He is of course also suggesting that it’s dangerous for her to be with him. He’s not good for her, yet he can’t help being drawn to her at the same time.

Now, where have we read this before? Yawn.

Secondly, Deirdre discovers that some faerie folk, or rather a very powerful faerie queen is after her. Why you’d ask? Well, Deirdre, it appears, has some serious powers herself, which is intimidating the queen.

Now, about those powers: I like when a heroine discovers her strengths and tests them out, but this got a bit too ridiculous. I mean, Deirdre’s powers were at first limited to some kind of telekinesis, such as move a leaf across the floor with her mind. Then suddenly, she could build walls around herself, create giant hands to push dangerous creatures away, outrun hounds, start cars from a distance, read minds and what not else. I mean seriously, it’s not much fun when the heroine is this “can do all” – girl. What’s the challenge in that? I’d rather the author would stick to just one supernatural power.

Thirdly, there were threads left hanging just about everywhere. Things happened for no reason at all, and much was left unexplained.

Beware of spoilers:

For instance, I never got the whole story behind the aunt and why she acted the way she did. And why were all the four-leaf clovers left for Deirdre to find? What was the point of that? And how come Deirdre had access to Luke’s memories when he wasn’t even there? What happened to Rye the dog and how was it involved in the whole thing? Most importantly, if the queen just wanted Deirdre killed, why not just get it over and done with instead of going through all her loved ones first?

End of spoilers

In short, a lot of what happened didn’t make much sense. Or rather, it felt like it happened because it was convenient for the plot at the time. I also never got a feel for the characters, and consequently never really cared what happened to either one of them.

The only redeeming quality about this book was the writing, which is shown in the well drawn descriptions of the faerie folk. Stiefvater sure knows how to write beautifully. It’s a shame that the rest fell flat.

There is a companion novel called Ballad, but this is the end of this faerie journey for me.

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: Illusions by Aprilynne Pike

12 Aug

Series: Wings, book #3

Published: May 3rd 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers

Details: Hardcover, 375 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

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

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Synopsis:

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

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

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My thoughts:

I have one word for this book.

Filler.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was not impressed.

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

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

Review: 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: Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

7 May

Series: Faeriewalker, book #1

Published: May 25th 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Details: Paperback, 294 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

About Dana, who runs away from her alcoholic human mother, to stay with her faery father. She soon realizes that she has a unique ability that makes her a great threat to the people in power. In other words, she is in danger. This book starts out great, then started sagging in the middle with fuzzily explained motives and political faery intrigues. Great secondary characters though. I may read the sequel Shadowspell.

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A few chapters in:

I usually don’t pay much attention to beautiful book covers, because to me they are nothing more than just that.. book covers, and hence no proof whether the content is good or not.

However, last week I think an exception occurred. I passed through a book store, and somehow ended up walking out with Glimmerglass in my hand, even though I had no idea what it was about (apart from the obvious faery theme), nor did I know if it had received good reviews.

Then what happened?

Well, a gorgeous book cover lured me in. That’s what happened!

I have checked a few reviews now, which hasn’t really helped as they are all quite mixed. So, let’s just hope for the best now, shall we?

I’m a few chapters in and at least I am intrigued by the opening of the book, which is a good sign.

Dana, our 16-year old heroine is tired of living and taking care of her drunken mom, and so she decides to go and live with her dad instead. The thing is, her dad is a faery, and he lives in Avalon which is the only town in the world where faeries and humans can co-exist, a kind of border if you like to the fairy world. So Dana jumps on a plane to head over there.

She barely touches ground before she gets into trouble. Instead of her dad meeting her, she’s picked up by her aunt Grace who locks her into her home claiming it’s for Dana’s own protection.

And weirder it gets, when in the middle of the night she gets kidnapped from her aunt’s cell by two stranger teenager sibling faeries, and taken to an underground get-to-together.

The kidnappers don’t seem to be the bad guys though. Kimber and Ethan as they’re called, explain to Dana that her aunt Grace was holding her imprisoned for selfish political reasons. It appears as if Avalon is getting closer to an important election, and both Dana’s aunt and dad are fighting for the throne.

It’s believed that Dana has some kind of power that could cement the victory, which is why aunt Grace thought it necessary to keep her locked away. However, what exactly that power is, remains a mystery.

And that is as far as I’ve got. But like I said, I’m intrigued. The start promises a great world-building, as we dive into Avalon and the land of fairies with unseelie and seelie courts, monsters and a cute faery healer (Ethan). 

 

 

After finishing the book:

So, I just finished Glimmerglass and I wish I could say it was as great as the cover promised..

But unfortunately, I can’t. Because this book was just okay.

As seen above, we literally get thrown into the story as Dana goes to live with her dad in the gate town of the faery land , also know as Avalon. She immediately gets into trouble, is kidnapped a number of times by various people, faces monsters and meets a cute fairy. In other words, so far I was really enjoying it and I felt confident it was heading towards at least a 4/5.

Then gradually, starting from somewhere in the middle when Dana finally finds her dad, my interest started to fade, and I’m having troubles putting my finger on exactly why.

I have a couple of theories though:

First of all, the pace and the thread of the plot halted once Dana found her dad. Up until that point, it had been an exciting ride to follow Dana as she was searching for her dad in an unknown country filled with dangers and strange faery people. When she did find her dad, everything halted. Because what now?

As Dana was now safely tucked into her dad’s place, the plot took a political direction with Dana’s dad heading off to various political meetings to try to sort out how to protect Dana the best. Whenever action was needed there would be a random attack on Dana, then once again she would be moved to a protected place and more political meetings followed. In short, the plot suddenly felt random, rather than well-thought.

However, all this (political stuff) would have been okay if only I had understood better why Dana was in such mortal danger.  

It is explained that the reason why everyone is after Dana is because she is a faery walker, and while I understand the idea (someone who can walk in both worlds – faery and human), the reasons why that made her such an incredible threat were quite vague. I mean true, the last faery walker was apparently no angel, and yes I do get that Dana can bring dangerous technology into the faery world, as well as magic into the human world. Yet, I still don’t get how that makes her a huge threat to everyone, so much that she can potentially cement a victory for anyone who allies themselves with her.

And while speaking about fuzziness, I thought the world-building was a bit fuzzily drawn too. Especially this whole thing  with fairies not being able to enter the human world and vice versa. Why was that? And what about Avalon? Why could both species co-exist there? I would have loved to get a better feel for Avalon and what made  that place so unique. As it was now, I had a hard time picturing the place in my mind.

I also didn’t quite get all the political stuff. It’s explained that a fairy consul is to be appointed soon which is creating quite a stir, but I had a hard time connecting this bit of information to Dana’s story. True, tension ran a bit higher than usual in Avalon, but how is Dana being a fairy walker helping a consul to get elected? By bringing technology into the fairy land or what?

Or maybe I’m asking too much from the start of a series?

I just don’t know. All I know is that I like to feel immersed into a world, and while the glimpses that I got from this faery world (water witches, knights, seelie courts etc) were intriguing, never did I feel completely immersed. I think simply because the glimpses that I got were too few.

Lastly, I felt that the villain in the end was drawn a bit too black-and white for me. I like my villains to be multi-dimensional with a well motivated agenda rather than just “I’m evil and this is what evil people do”. The villain in this book definitely fit the latter category. 

However, as much as it sounds like I’m bashing the book now, I did give it a 3/5 for a reason.

Essentially, what saved it from a lower grade, was the characters, combined with the glimpses of the fairy world that we got. In fact, I liked pretty much all of the secondary characters; Dana’s stern and blunt dad, the secret-police look-alike Finn and his rebellious goth son, the insecure Kimberly and the womanizer Ethan.

Strangely enough the heroine Dana was the character I felt the least for, or rather, she was just okay.  In fact, she felt like any other teen-ager, with her rebellious acts against her father, insecurities and pouting around. In other words, not particularly strong, but she may experience growth in the following books.

Which leads me to: Will I read the following books?

To be honest, I don’t know. The sequel Shadowspell is already out on the shelves, and the third installment is to be released this summer. Judging by the reviews of Shadowspell, there is some improvement to the series, so I might give it a go. But it won’t happen anytime soon.

Review: Spells by Aprilynne Pike

29 Jan

Series: Wings, book #2

Published: May 4th 2010 by Harper Teen

Details: Hardcover, 359 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Sequel to Wings. Laurel is summoned to study at the fairy academy, thus we learn more about the world of the fairies which I enjoyed. But other than that, it was more of a filler than an actual stand-alone plot. Not much happens, except for Laurels emotional struggles regarding Tamani & David. Enjoyable but not great. Next book Illusions out in May.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

Wings was a fairy tale story about the seemingly ordinary girl Laurel who discovered she was a fairy. It was not amazing by any means but it was cute. Actually, that’s the word right there: Cute.

Cute enough for me to want to pick up the sequel. Too much cuteness for me to want to pick it up right away.

Hence, here we are, roughly eight months later (including two months in the TBR-pile).

I’m now a few chapters in. Laurel has been summoned to attend the Academy of Avalon over the summer in order to catch up on her fairy studies. In Wings we learned that as a fairy child, Laurel was handed over to adoptive human parents in order to be raised by them, since the land where they lived was important fairy land that needed protection from the trolls. How Laurel helped protecting that land as a fairy toddler I have no idea, but I’m sure there was a reason.

The point is, after having lived solely a human life for the last 13 years, Laurel is now in urgent need of a fairy education.

Hence, from chapter one, we follow Laurel as she steps through the magical gate to the fairy land of Avalon discovering a whole new world she didn’t know existed, full of beauty and magic, but also strict social structures and rules. Laurel is a Fall Fairy, which turns out to be a rare species, and very highly appreciated. In fact, Fall Fairies rank second highest after the Winter Fairies, who are the rarest of them all.

Tamani on the other hand (Laurel’s fairy friend) is just a Spring Fairy, which in Avalon means he is common, ordinary and.. as funny as this sounds – a true working class fairy. I’ve just now got to the point where Tamani is showing Laurel around, including a visit to his mother.

And I have to say that so far I’m liking it! The world building of the fairies is intriguing, so much that right now I feel I could stay in Avalon forever! Or at least for 359 pages..

 

 

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book, and it was…cute. I seem to be stuck on that word when it comes to this series.

As you can see from my first impression above, I loved the first part of the book. The fairy world-building that Pike has created is fascinating and I loved every minute that Laurel spent in Avalon.

Unfortunately, a couple of chapters later, Laurel had  to return to the human world, and as she did my interest started to fade. Not necessarily because I found the human world boring, but more because in the absence of an intriguing world-building I started to notice the non-existent plot. You see, not much happened in this book. Or rather, a few things happened but not enough to justify a book of almost 400 pages.

If I were to sum it up, this was essentially about Laurel and her issues with being a fairy brought up in the human world. She tries to live in both worlds, including stringing along both her boys David and Tamani, but fails miserably on all accounts. The troll threat is lingering in the air throughout the whole book, but not much actually happens until the final pages.

In the end, not much is solved. Laurel does finally make a decision, but I’m not convinced that this is her final one, so expect her indecisiveness to continue in book three.

As a fan of Tamani I was especially irritated at Laurel’s behaviour towards him – I mean talk about giving out mixed signals! Shar (Tamani’s sentry colleague) tells Laurel a few wise words at the end of the book, and I pretty much wanted to hug him after that, because he nailed my view of Laurel’s actions right there.

The Bottom Line:

Finally, I know it sounds like I’m bashing the book now. Truth is, it was still enjoyable and easy to read, probably because of the fairy world and the fact that it is well written.  I will continue the series, in the hopes that the next installment will prove to be more than just another filler. Illusions to be released in May this year.

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.

Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

5 Aug

Series: Wings, book #1

Published: May 1st 2009 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 294 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

Quick enjoyable read about a girl who discovers she’s a fairy. With a love triangle. All though easy read, I felt it was a bit too childish for a 30+ year old. There is a sequel, Spells.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

My thoughts:

There are many books out there which are proclaimed to be the next Twilight. Wings by Aprilynne Pike is one of those books, probably since the story includes both romance and paranormal elements. On top of that, it’s been recommended by Stephenie Meyer, and I like her book recommendations. She’s the reason I read Hunger Games! So for me, this was a good premise, being both ‘twilight’-esque and recommended by Meyer.

Wings is the first book in a series of four. It follows Laurel,  a 15-year old girl who discovers that she is a fairy. It starts with Laurels first day at school when she befriends a boy, David.  Along with him, we learn about Laurel and how she has always been slightly different than everyone else. When she starts growing wings on her back she realizes just how different she is. She also meets Tamani, a boy of her kind who helps her exploring the new world she belongs to, yet didn’t know existed. With Tamani in the picture, a love triangle is formed where Laurel has problems choosing between the two.

This was a very easy read. Actually, it was almost too easy, that is, I felt as if I was reading a pree-teen book rather than YA. I have read quite a few YA books this year and all though they are about teens, and generally aimed solely at teens, I usually have no issues with that. But in Wings, the language felt childish, which bothered me a little.

In saying that, it still kept my interest, all though I thought the boy David was a bit bland. I mean he was nice, interested in Laurel and all about helping her, which is good. I think the problem was that he lacked personality or charisma. He jokes himself about being a science nerd, and I couldn’t help but agree on that.

So when the charismatic Tamani jumped into the picture midway through the book,  I rooted for him immediately, and so the second half of the book was much better. Needless to say I’m Team Tamani. The ending leaves you wondering about what decisions Laurel will make, as for her new life as a fairy and the love triangle.

In short, I thought Wings was an enjoyable read – I read it in about 2 days – but it is also easily forgettable. There is a sequel out called Spells, which I probably will read at some stage, but I don’t feel any need to rush out and get it just yet.

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #3

Published: March 24th 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 541 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

WOW!! What a great ending to a mind-blowing series! Yes, not the most original but great writing and amazing characterization! The growth of the characters is palpable – have now come to love them all, Jace, Simon, Clare, Luke, Magnus Bane..and the world of shadowhunters & downworlders. Eagerly anticipating fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, out next year.

My Full Review:

This is the third installment of the Mortal Instruments trilogy. And I’ve just warily started reading it. Warily, because I know that once I’m a few chapters in it will result in a “bye bye social life”. I’ll retreat into the house and will not get out until I’ve finished it. That’s how addicting I predict it to be. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of The Mortal Instruments series.  A fourth book in the series to be released in April next year, City of Fallen Angels. Yay!

Update:

I forced myself to read this over a week, just to savour it as long as possible, all though it was hard, really hard, especially nearing the end. Let me just say, what a great ending to a fantastic trilogy! I know I know.. another book is coming – and will get to follow these characters yet again, all though from Simon’s point of view – but it was meant as a trilogy from the beginning. And you can tell that this was the original end. Everything is wrapped up beautifully in this one.

I thought the two first books were great too, but I felt like this was the best, possibly because I’d grown so attached to characters and the story. Basically, I just I loved it, from start to finish. Yes, it may not be the most original story, but the world-building and the characters, and the witty dialogues, and the heart-pounding romance..it all makes up more than well for the lack of originality. I felt completely transported into to the land of the shadowhunters, Idris, where they travel in this book, to participate in a looming war against Valentine, and frankly, I never wanted to leave. Thank god for that fourth book, I’m just saying.

Ok, so beware of:

SPOILERS———————-SPOILERS—————————–SPOILERS

As I said before, I loved the characters in this book, and the witty dialogues..

– Magnus Bane for one is a brilliant character. I was a bit worried at first that he wouldn’t participate as much in this book as the rest, but I needn’t have to worry, as he shows up pretty soon in Idris.

– Sebastian. I may be blind but I didn’t see this coming. At first I thought it was going to develop into a love triangle between him, Jace and Clary. Then I started to realize that something was up with him, and began pondering that if he is Valentines son, how does Jace fit into all this?

– Jace. My oh my. Of all the characters he is the best. Tortured, strong, vulnerable, sarcastic, romantic, casanova, hero..I mean seriously, I have not come across such a complex character in some time. And the relationship he has with Clary is the core of the book. I just wanted more of them, all the time. Each one of their encounters was so emotional, tense, romantic and fierce that it blew me away each time. Absolutely wonderful!!

Valentine. Wonderfully drawn evil character, who believes, actually believes that he is doing the shadowhunter world a favor. He is that crazy. And I think that somehow he loved Jace, and he definitely loved Jocelyn. He wasn’t always mean. That is what makes him fascinating and more real somehow.

Even though the ending was pretty neatly tied up, there were a few loose ends left hanging. For instance, we know how the angel blood is affecting Clary making her being able to create runes. But Jace, what are his abilities? Apart from being able to move and jump faster and higher than others, we don’t know much about that. Also, Sebastian’s body was never found so expect that to continue in the fourth book. And, the fairy queen tells Clary that she does not know all the secrets of her past, implying this may somehow affect her and Jace. How? Well, I suppose that’s to find out in City of Fallen Angels as well. Can’t wait!!!

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #1

Published: March 27th 2007 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 485 pages

My grade: 4.5/5

My Summary:

First book in trilogy. About a girl who enters a magical world she had no idea existed, yet finds out she belongs to. I started off thinking it was a rip-off of quite a few books I’ve read before, especially Harry Potter. Then I got too invested into the characters to care. This is a world I will want to visit again. Loved Jace.

My Full Review:

This is a series which has been figuring on just about every list for twilight fans, and on top of that recommended by Stephenie Meyers, and so it felt like it was just a matter of time before it ended up in my hands. Finally, it did, and I was able to find out if it was as good as everyone said it was. Well…was it?

Absolutely!!! Every bit as good!!

However, to tell you the truth I wasn’t totally converted at the beginning. Two reasons for this:

1) Many bits and pieces have been borrowed from other fantasy work, and at the beginning all I could think of was where these bits and pieces came from (that Hodge resembled Dumbledore in Harry Potter etc).

2) There is also a lot of world building going on, with so much background info weaved into the story that at times I got detracted from the plot.

Hence, it took quite a few chapters before I started to get used to the world of shadowhunters and demons that Clare has created. Once I got into it though, I got into it deep, and before I knew it, I raced through the pages in no time at all. So regardless of my hesitations at first, this is extremely addictive stuff! It truly is.

As for the plot, Clary is an ordinary New York girl, or so she thinks. She lives with her artist mother and has one best friend – the geeky Simon. All is well until the day the two of them head out to the notorious goth club Pandemonium, where Clary witnesses something very strange.

She doesn’t know it then, but what she does see is three shadowhunters capturing and destroying a demon. You see, in this world, all types of nightly creatures exist, demons being the most dangerous. Normal people are of course oblivious to all of this, and the shadowhunters, whose work is to keep the world somewhat demon-free, like to keep it this way.

What is odd is that Clary sees them, despite the glamour the shadowhunters use in order to avoid being detected by normal people. But the odd things have only just begun. Not long after, Clary’s mom is kidnapped and Clary herself is attacked by a demon, and brought to the shadowhunter’s home (an old cathedral which has been made into their New York Institute).

The shadowhunters are Alec and Isabelle who are siblings, and Jace –  their adopted brother. The new arrival of Clary stir things up a bit within the small and tight shadowhunter group, in particular Alec and Isabelle who both have their reasons to stay wary of Clary. Jace however feels inexplicably drawn to Clary right from the start and they end up spending quite a bit of time together, at the institute or during various dangerous missions.

I loved watching their budding romance enfold, but mostly I loved Jace. He jumped out of the pages right from the start. It´s been some time (if ever) since I read about such a fascinating, complex and sexy character! The moment he got more page time with Clary in The City of Bones, I was a convert.

So yes, there is no denying it that the number one reason why I loved this first installment was Jace. Yet, there is so much more to this novel. The well-rounded characters (Simon, Luke, Magnus, Alec, Isabelle), the non-stop action and last but not least the quirky dialogue.

See a snippet below:

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?’
Jace said, “Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.”
…”At least,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.”
“Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”

The book is filled with this kind of sarcastic dialogue – mostly from Jace, but Magnus Bane and Simon will occasionally pitch in as well to create some really funny moments.

There is really only one minor disappointment with this book and that is the unexpected twist at the end, which I can assure you will be quite frustrating. But I urge you to keep reading, because it only gets better. Having read all three books, it now stands as one of my all time favorite young adult series (along with Twilight of course.)