Tag Archives: love triangle

Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

15 Nov

Series: Hex Hall, book #2

Published: March 22nd 2011 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 359 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

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

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Synopsis:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

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

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My Thoughts:

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

A miracle in itself.

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

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

My interest was piqued.

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

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

Let me give you a few examples:

On Sophie’s dad being British:

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

Or when Sophie finds out about the betrothal:

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

Or the snarky remarks between Sophie and Archer:

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

Entertaining indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

6 Nov

Series:Razorland, book #1

Published: April 12th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends

Details: Hardcover, 259 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

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

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Synopsis:

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

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

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My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A shame.

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

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

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

Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

20 Oct

Series: Nightshade,  book #2

Published: July 26th 2011 by Penguin Young Readers Group

Details: Hardcover, 390 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

In this sequel of The Nightshade series, Calla finds herself struggling with the consequences of having left her pack. She and Shay are being cared for by the Searchers, but the rest of her group, including Ren, are still with the enemies. I loved Nightshade, but was less than thrilled with this one. Too much talking and info dump. Not enough action. In the end, not much was solved, and it finishes off in a cliff-hanger. All in all, disappointing.

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Synopsis:

When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

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My Review:

Only 50 pages in, my “filler warning bell” started ringing. (The bell that rings when I see filler-signs, usually in sequels, see Linger or Desires of the Dead.)

I tried to ignore it, because I wanted to like Wolfsbane. I had been dying to read it ever since I finished the amazing Nightshade a couple of months ago. But the more I read, the higher the bell rang. And after another 100 or so pages I could no longer deny the fact that my “warning bell” had a valid point. The plot was definitely missing!

Throughout the first 250 pages, we follow Calla and Shay as they hang out at the Searcher’s quarters. Doing what you may ask?

Well, bickering. That’s what they do. They sit around and talk, joke, banter, discuss things and once in a while drink coffee or take a tour on the grounds. Then back to talking and joking around some more.

Literally 250 pages of dialogues, I kid you not!

You know, I’m usually a fan of dialogues, since they are a convenient way of showing what the characters are like, rather than the author telling us through descriptions. My problem with these dialogues though were that they seemed to have no purpose, other than serve as fillers.

A pattern that would repeat itself over and over again, was the following:

A vital piece of information needed to be delivered, maybe half a page at the most. But throw some bickering of the group in between that vital piece of information and voila! Three pages have been filled rather than a half.

It would usually go like this:

(One line of actual information)

“You’ll rendevouz with Grant tonight”, Silas said, pulling a crumpled piece of paper out of his jeans pocket. “I just got confirmation”.

(Start bickering)

Anika reached for the note. “Silas, we’ve talked about keeping correspondence neat”.

“I was in a hurry”. He shrugged.

“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you”, Connor said. “You don’t know where that’s been”.

“Shut up, you louse”, Silas snapped.

“Louse?” Connor laughed. “How deep did you have to dig for that one?”

(End bickering)

(One line of actual information)

(Start bickering..)

You see what I mean? It went on like this for the entire novel!

It also felt like Cremer tried so hard to make the searchers a likable bunch of people, that in the end, it felt forced. All their bantering and bickering felt like “Oh look at us! We’re so cool, deep and fun, we listen to cool music, we play guitar and on top of it all, we are kick-ass warriors who can wield all sort of lethal ninja-weapons”.

Sorry guys, but you did not impress me.

It felt more like a parody of other warriors, or as if Cremer had just read The Mortal Instruments and tried to create a new kind of Shadowhunters. Same type of bickering, same tight relationships, same weaponry rooms with enchanted weapons and the same type of enormous headquarters situated all over the world. There was even the same type of war going on against our parallel world, a demon world with black magic.

Only, in The Mortal Instruments it worked, because I saw it in action. It was an on-going thing, as in, they would head out and meet demons and fight them on a daily basis. Here, not so much. It was more talking and yada yada yada. I never felt any urgency, and I certainly never felt that they were skilled or talented. They made a huge fuss over preparing well and making plans, but when they actually went out there, it ended up being the most unplanned thing I’ve ever seen, which quickly went downhill as soon as they set foot on enemy territory. Skilled warriors? I think not.

Another thing that fell short for me was the love triangle. Surprisingly, because if you remember my review of Nighshade, I devoured Calla’s difficulties with choosing between her alpha mate Ren and the newcomer Shay. In this installment however, Shay has turned into an obnoxious macho guy who would not take no for an answer. Ren is practically absent the entire novel, save from a 3 second cameo appearance, and like most reviewers have commented, I missed him!

Moreover, I no longer recognized Calla. She lost her spine in this book, and was walking around feeling lost and guilty most of the time. A shame, since Calla was one of my favorite heroines in Nightshade.

The ending is a cliff-hanger, and promises more of Ren, which I have to admit is intriguing. Nevertheless, I am considering ending the series here. Unless of course, the next book Bloodrose recieves stunning reviews.

Bloodrose to be released in January next year. For all you “Team Ren” out there, see a teaser chapter here.

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

7 Oct

Series: Matched, book #1

Published: November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile

Details: Hardcover, 384 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About Cassia, who in a dystopian future where The Society control all, is matched with Xander and then finds out that it could have been Ky. Or could it? Once the doubts are there, she can’t stop thinking about Ky, and eventually falls in love. It’s slow-going, bogged down with irrelevant details and lacks any sense of urgency. I had a hard time getting to the end without falling asleep. Recommended for fans of Delirium.

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Synopsis:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

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My Thoughts:

I have a theory: What you think about Matched, is what you think about Delirium, and vice versa.

As you know, I was not a fan of Delirium, and consequently I am not a fan of Matched. For nearly the same reasons as with Delirium. In fact, I could almost copy and paste my whole review from Delirium and insert the appropriate names and locations because really, they are that interchangeable!

Both are set in an all-controlling society who decides where you’ll live, what you’ll work with, who you’ll marry and how many children you’ll have. Both heroines, who are strikingly similar personality-wise, meet a boy who is an outcast of the society and hence forbidden. Both girls have been assigned a match who they should fall in love with. I could go on but you get the idea.

Instead, let’s move on to my issues:

Just like in Delirium, I had problems with the world-building in Matched. For instance, I thought it odd that people didn’t seem to create anything anymore. The Society had saved 100 of everything (poems, books, songs) but nothing new was being created? It appeared as if the only tool of creation was the long-forgotten pen. But wait, can you not write a poem on your computer? It just did not seem plausible and the whole oh-so-forbidden act of writing in cursive, which is what Ky secretly teaches Cassia, had me rolling my eyes.

Just like in Delirium, I thought the romance happened too fast. Cassia started to get drawn to Ky pretty much straight away, which given what happened with the micro card, is understandable. What I didn’t understand is how quickly she thought herself to be in love with him. They barely exchanged any sentences. And when they did, it was all very stiff or dramatic.

Just like in Delirium, there was a lack of urgency. It was too slow, and there were too many redundant passages that bogged everything down so that I ended up feeling every single one of the 384 pages.

Finally, I didn’t like the writing style, which seemed to try hard to be poetic but not quite making it. Let me give you an example (from page 175):

“Can I do it? I look out at the view from the top of the hill. The sky does not have an answer for me. The dome of City Hall in the distance certainly doesn’t. I remember thinking of the angel stories when I went to my Match Banquet. I don’t see any angels and they don’t fly down on their cotton soft wings to whisper in my ear. Can I trust this boy who writes in the earth?

Someplace deep within me – Is it my heart? Or perhaps my soul, the mythical part of human that the angels cared about? – tells me that I can.”

Now, some people might like this type of writing. Too me, it just sounds overdone.  It makes me notice the author (for trying to be poetic) rather than get immersed into the story. But then, that is just my opinion. If you like a flowery poetic language with plenty of side tracks and a few philosophical rhetorical questions thrown in for good measure – then this might be the book for you.

Or of course, if you loved Delirium.

It is however the end of the series for me.

The sequel Crossed to be published on November 1st this year.

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

13 Sep

Series: Hourglass, book #1

Published: June 14th 2011 by Egmont USA

Details: Hardcover, 397 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

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

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A few chapters in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

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

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

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

What I loved:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I didn’t completely buy into it.

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

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

Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

4 Sep

Series: Vampire Academy, book #5

Published: May 18th 2010 by Penguin/Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 489 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

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

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My Full Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 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: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

4 Jul

Series: Vampire Diaries, book #1

Published: June 26th 2007 by HarperTeen

Details: Paperback, 200 pages

My Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

About popular girl Elena who falls in love with vampire Stefan. Problem is, Stefan’s evil vampire brother has decided he wants Elena as well. This underdeveloped story, with contrived dialogues and shallow characters is clearly aimed for young teens only. I could barely get through the book.

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My Full Review:

I recently decided to give the Vampire Diaries a go, which is why I’m now sitting with The Awakening in my hand. With doubts creeping in: What the heck was I thinking?

Anyone who has been following blogs and reviews knows that this series hasn’t exactly received what you’d call high praise. Why then torture myself through another crappy novel? As if Evernight wasn’t enough suffering for one month.

But I suppose it’s for the same reason as when I want to see a supposedly crappy but very much talked about movie. I get this strange urge to see it just so that I can form my own opinion. (I remember watching The Da Vinci Code for this very reason.)

And let’s face it. Vampire diaries is a talked about series, most likely due to its resemblance to Twilight (note that it was published before Meyer’s work)  and to the succesful tv series which is airing at the moment.

Enough said, with these whopping high expectations, I’ve plunged into the world of Elena, Stefan and Damon (of course picturing them all as the actors in the tv series – hard not to!).

We enter the story as the beautiful and popular girl Elena returns to school after a summer in France to discover that a new student has enrolled. And not just any student but an outwordly-looking handsome young boy who seems to have no interest whatsoever in Elena.

Frustrating to say the least. Well, at least for Elena who is used to get anything she wants, especially when it comes to boys.

After a couple of weeks of “suffering” the ignorance of Stefan, as the boy is called, she is molested by another boy at a cemetery. Who comes to her rescue? Yes, you guessed it right. Stefan.

Despite a few eye-rolling moments here and there, I was sort of enjoying it though, as I found myself turning pages hoping to see some chemistry when Elena and Stefan finally got to know each other.

Well, turns out I should not have been bothered.

On that first night, when Stefan rescues her from the cemetery, they kiss. After that, Elena’s first words to Stefan (and I repeat first words), are I love you.

I mean, come on!

It’s explained that Elena and Stefan need no words to communicate to each other, because they just feel what the other one feels. Really? They have barely exchanged greeting phrases and they already know each other that well?

To me, that just signals a lazy author who can’t care enough to create some dialogues between our main characters.

When they eventually do talk (a couple of pages later), it’s generally something dramatic such as I love you, I’ll protect you, I’ll always be there for you, or something along the same lines. What happened to normal conversations?

Bah!

Once I established that this contrived soap-opera relationship was to be the main theme of the book, it was hard not to just drop it on the spot. But there are only 200 pages of the book, and I figured that if I’d got this far, I might as well continue.

At least there was Damon, who seems infinitely much more interesting than Stefan could ever be. Stefan and Damon are brothers and are mortal enemies ever since something happened way back then when they grew up. Damon is supposedly evil, but I have a feeling he may experience some development, which means he could become an interesting figure. That’s about the only good thing I can say about this series.

Elena on the other hand was a self-centered brat. Her friends were only there to support her, without any motivations or feelings of their own. There’s that one-dimensional evil bitch at school who is out to destroy Elena. Yawn. Nothing out of the ordinary.

In short, it all felt very underdeveloped. As if the story could have come to life, had more thought and investment been put into the characters. As it was now, I could not connect to anyone, and I certainly couldn’t connect to the romance of Elena and Stefan.

So yep folks, this was just about as bad as I thought. Despite its similarities to Twilight, it’s nowhere near the same league.

Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

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: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

9 May

Series: Unearthly, book #1

Published: January 4th 2011 by HarperTeen

Details:  Hardcover, 435 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

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

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A few chapters in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

  

 

After finishing the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 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.

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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: The Forrest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

3 Oct

Series: The Forrest of Hands and Teeth, book #1

Published: July 2009 by Gollancz

Details: Paperback, 310 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

About Mary who lives in a village surrounded by a fence to keep out the zombies that populate the forest. One day there is a breech in the fence and she and a few others manage to escape. Ryan has created a cruel and fascinating dystopian world. Unfortunately too much time is taken up by Mary’s inconsistent and whiny thoughts. All in all, ok but not great. There is a sequel.

A few chapters in:

I heard somewhere that zombies are the new vampires. I don’t know if that’s true, it remains to be seen. What I do know, is that I have never read a YA fiction before involving zombies. That alone made me curious about this book. I am now only a few chapters in, and it has grabbed my attention.

Mary lives in a village in the middle of a forest. Nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that their village is closed in by a high metal fence in order to keep out the zombies (or the Unconsecrated as they are called) who populate the forest. Once in a while, a human gets too close to the fence and is bitten by the zombies, thus turning into one of them. At the start of the book, this very thing happens to the mother of the Mary. She lost her father to the zombies only months previously, and now finds herself all alone, but for a brother who doesn’t want to have anything to do with her.

She seeks refuge with the Sisters, a religious group of women – who are also the rulers of the village. This is as far as I’ve got but I am intrigued by the original plot. Let’s see what happens next..

After finishing the book:

Ok, so I finished the book last night. What did I think?

Well, it started out great and I was really intrigued by the premise of Mary discovering secrets within the sisterhood – the rulers of her village – in the middle of the forest of unconsecrated. There were indeed secrets – the sisterhood was withholding the truth from the villagers, and I got really eager to find out what truth exactly?

But then, instead of exploring that route, we are treated to all of Mary’s thoughts regarding the brothers Harry and Travis and how she is not happy about the way events have unfolded between the three of them. Usually, I am a fan of romance, but in this particular book I found that it bothered me. As if I wanted to shout – get a grip! – to Mary. She was under constant threat, one way or the other throughout the whole book and it felt as if all she cared about was who she had been bound to marry before everything happened – and how terrible it was that it had not been the right guy.You’d think that things like that would lose its importance once your whole world crumbles to pieces? I mean who cares if you were marrying the wrong guy – it’s not happening now anyway because the world as you know it has dissappeared. Now please quit pondering the past and get yourself and your friends saved from the immediate danger happening right now!

So no, I couldn’t relate to her – and not being emotionally invested in her made me lose some interest in the book. Unfortunately.

Because it is a fascinating world Ryan has created, cruel and fascinating. She is certainly not taking the safe road – a happy ending approach. It really does feel quite realistic (as far as realism goes in a world of zombies). Some very bad things happen throughout their journey – so terrible it was hard to read at times – the harshness of it all – the heart-breaking decisions they have to make. By the end of the book you will be craving for some light – some warmth. And that may happen. The ending was interesting and definitely made me want to check out the sequel.

The Bottom Line:

The only problem is that the sequel is sure to continue via the thoughts of  Mary, and being as little invested as I am in her, I wonder if it is worth my time. I can only hope she grows. Sequel is called The Dead-Tossed Waves.

Review: Captivate by Carrie Jones

28 Aug

Series: Need, book #2

Published: January 5th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA

Details: Hardcover, 273 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Sequel to Need. The pixie hunt continues, and the new pixie character Astley is introduced which causes Zara to doubt if all pixies are evil, also creating a love triangle. Ending with a cliff hanger. While I loved Need, I found this book less great, with logical gaps and preteen language. Still enjoyable. Third book Entice out Dec this year.

A few chapters in:

I loved the first book Need, so I’m loving diving into the pixie world of Zara and Nick again.

This book takes off where the first one ended. All the pixies are imprisoned in their house and Zara and her friends are patrolling the woods. One day, Zara happens across a wounded pixie guy. She saves him only to realize afterwards that he was a pixie king from far away. Has he come to take over the kingdom of her father? Moreover, he seems nice and he is confusing Zara. Are all pixies really evil?

The others, and especially Nick don’t seem to share the same concern over the welfare of the pixies. They think pixies are evil, period. Meanwhile we are getting glimpses of the bigger world of pixies. And what is the deal with Zara not feeling quite right. Is her pixie blood affecting her in some strange way?

This is how far I’ve got, but I’m very invested into the story already, and I’m pondering the same questions as Zara, are all pixies really evil? The story is promising so far. Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

I finished the book last night and I’m sorry to say I was not as overwhelmed as I was after reading Need. The great characters that were introduced in Need never developed into anything more, rather they felt slightly underdeveloped in this book. For some reason I also felt the language in this book to be more preteen than teen, as if it had gone slightly more immature than in the prequel.

I did however like the new character Astley, which is introduced midway through the book. He added a new dimension to the plot, both in the form of a possible love triangle and the fact that he may (or may not) be something as unusual as a good pixie. I loved reading the sections where he was involved.

We are also introduced to some of the world building of the weres and the pixies but only bits and pieces, so that nothing really makes any sense. I think I would have liked some loose ends to get tied up, something more solid to build upon. It all felt so vague, the whole reason for a looming pixie war. What are the forces behind it? What are the roles of the weres? Why is it happening now? Not much is explained, and what is explained doesn’t make much sense. I am curious though to see if it will redeem itself in the third book Entice, to be released in Dec this year.

The Bottom Line:

Finally, do I recommend Captivate?

Yes absolutely, it is still very much an entertaining read, especially if you are invested into the characters after Need

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

9 Aug

Series: Fallen, book #1

Published: December 8th 2009 by Delacorte Press

Details: Hardcover, 452 pages

My Rating: 2.5 /5

My Summary:

Luce is a girl with some unusual problems, who is sent to reform school by her parents. There she meets two mysterious guys, Daniel – who she feels she knows from before, and Cam. Who can she trust? Plot involves fallen angels. Well written, but very slow pace and too many question marks left hanging at the end. Overall, just OK.  Sequel Torment out soon.

My Full Review:

This book has got some mixed reviews, but is generally recommended by Twilight fans, so I decided to read it and see for myself.

Synopsis:

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

My thoughts:

I liked the premise of this book as it was a bit different. Luce is a girl who’s been having some unusual problems for the last couple of years (explained in the book), culminating in a terrible accident involving the death of a boy in her school the previous summer. Consequently she is sent to Swords and Cross, a reform school for troubled kids. And this is where we are introduced into the story.

Along with Luce we get to discover the strict rules of the school, the strange atmosphere lingering at the school grounds as if there are secrets lurking around. We also learn more about the other troubled kids. Luce gets to know two seemingly nice girls, acquires one girl enemy for reasons unknown to her, and attracts the attention of two mysterious and good-looking boys, Cam and Daniel.

Luce is unsettled by quite a few things. She is still dealing with guilt from what happened the previous summer, and she is also trying to get used to the idea of having been sent to this reform school. However, Daniel is what unsettles her the most. His behaviour is strange, to say the least, yet she can’t shake off the feeling that she has known him before, and she is intrigued to find out more about him.

This very premise goes on for most part of the book. As a reader, you are left with the feeling that no one can really be trusted, and that there is something more going on, something supernatural. Somehow this involves Luce and Daniel, and possibly someone else, but who?

All though the book is really well written, I found the pace a bit too slow. It is slowly building up towards the big finale, but it just takes ages to get there and I struggled to keep up my interest as I was reading. Especially since I saw what was coming miles ahead.

I know this book has been compared a lot with Hush Hush seeing as they both share the same theme. However, even though Hush Hush was not as beautifully written as Fallen, the former grabbed me more. I literally could not stop reading it. With Fallen, I had no problems whatsoever leaving it for a few days, even towards the end. It just didn’t stick with me the same way. I believe it was because of combination of two things: the pace was too slow and I could see things coming from miles away. The latter meant that I had to wait for ages for our heroine to figure out the same things I had known all along. It made it slightly..boring..for lack of a better word.

The Bottom Line:

So, would I recommend Fallen?

Well, it wasn’t all bad. But it is very “putdownable”. Not a book that will sweep you away. Yet sort of enjoyable because of the atmosphere Kate has created. However, the ending dragged the grade down, as there were to many loose ends left hanging. I felt like I was taken through all that slow suspense and build up only to end at..oh get the next book and you’ll find out. Speakin of which, there is a sequel Torment out soon, which I may read..or not.

Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz

5 Aug

Series: Touch, book #2

Published: November 9th 2009 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 288 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so the plot in the sequel is basically an exact copy of the first book. Another stalker, more doubts regarding Ben, more questionable admirers, same type of ending. I wish the story had moved forward instead. What I found intriguing in the first book just felt washed out in this one. I may still read the last book Deadly little games, out this year, to see if it gets better.

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

5 Aug

Series: Hunger Games, book #2

Published:  September 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 391 pages

My rating: 5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so finished this sequel to the Hunger Games in record time. Suspense from start to finish. And ending with a cliff-hanger again, so can’t WAIT for the last book Mockingjay, out this month!

My Full Review:

Like everyone else in the blogosphere, I absolutely loved The Hunger Games, and I was dying to read the this sequel Catching Fire. Even though my expectations were rocket high, it did not disappoint. Just like the first book, I was sucked into the story and literally read the whole thing in one sitting.

It begins where it left off in Hunger Games, with Katniss and Peeta returning to district 12 after winning the games. At the end of those games, Katniss pulled out deadly berries, forcing The Capitol to accept both her and Peeta as winners, or else they would have committed suicide. This little act of rebellion has not gone unnoticed, and the 12 districts of Panem are now boiling under the surface, so much in fact that President Snow himself pays a visit to Katniss house. He tells her that she better try to calm down the situation while touring the districts on the following victory tour, or else someone she loves will pay.

Beware of slight spoilers:

Katniss and Peeta head out for the Victory tour, looking every bit in love as ever, reinforcing the false view of start-crossed lovers who pulled out those berries in an act of love, rather than rebellion. None of this matters though, as the next Hunger Games is announced as a special 75th Hunger Games. Tradition states that every 25th year, a twist is to be introduced in the Hunger Games. This year, not surprisingly, President Snow has come up with the twist that the former victors have to enter the arena, one girl and one boy from each district, thus throwing Peeta and Kaniss into the Hunger Games round 2.

Meanwhile, it seems as if some districts are rebelling – all though The Capitol is doing their best to silence the news. There are also rumours circulating regarding district 13, which was supposedly completely destroyed as a punishment for the previous attempted rebellion. But what if district 13 still exists?

End of spoilers

There is more, but I don’t want to give too much away. I loved every bit of it though. It was as much of an emotional and action-packed roller-coaster as the first book. Once I started I simply could not let it go. The ending left me aching for more. What a terrific trilogy this is turning out to be, I am truly amazed by the story-telling abilities of Suzanne Collins! If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now!

Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

5 Aug

Series: Hunger Games, book #1

Published: October 1st 2008 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 374 pages

My rating: 5/5

My summary:

One of the better books I’ve read in recent years. Impossible to put down. All though brutal at times, also sweet, full of warmth and with great characters. The story is so good that I find it hard not rattling on about it to everyone I know. This is simply put a must read!!

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Life in District 12 isn’t easy for Katniss and her family. Ever since her father died the girl has spent her time saving her mother and little sister Prim from starvation by hunting on forbidden land. But worst of all is reaping day. Once a year the government chooses two children from each of the twelve districts to compete against one another in a live and televised reality show. Twenty-four kids and teens enter, and only one survives.

When Prim’s name is called, Katniss exchanges herself without hesitation to compete alongside the baker’s boy Peeta. To survive in this game you need to win the heart of your audience, and so District 12’s trainers come up with a plan. Why not make it as if Peeta and Katniss were in love with one another? But in a game where only one person can live, Katniss will have to use all her brains, wits, and instincts to determine who to trust and how to outwit the game’s creators.

My thoughts:

Wow, that’s all I can say, really wow! I heard about this book, it was generally people raving about it on various book-blogs and I considered reading it. Still hesitant, because it seemed so brutal and I wasn’t sure if I was up to reading a “lord of the flies”, with kids running around beating each other to death. But as I accidently happened across the book at the local library I decided to give it a shot, and boy am I glad I did!

If I’ve called other books page-turners, I think I’ll have to invent a new meaning for the term, because this was such a page-turner that no force in the universe could have made me put the book down, once I started! It’s a 400+ pages book and I literally read it in one sitting, cancelling all other activities I had planned for the day. The story is so good, that at times I had to stop and just marvel at the turn of events the author had created.

But here I am rattling on..let’s get to the review:

As seen in the synopsis, this is the story about Katniss who in a dystopian future takes the place of her sister in the yearly tournament Hunger Games. The Hunger Games have been created by the Capitol (the government) to ensure the people in the districts are reminded each year how helpless and powerless they are up against the Capitol. This is to prevent the people to rebel, which is something that happened many years ago.

Each year, each district is forced to send two of their kids to fight against their lives in an arena filled with dangers, created by the Capitol. Only one kid is allowed to survive.

Katniss, our heroine is from district 12. Ever since her father died in a mine explosion, and her mother consequently went into a depression, she has been the food supplier of the family, mainly hunting game out in the forbidden woods outside the district.

She is a tough girl, and as a reader you believe and vote for her straight away as someone who actually might make it alive through the games. Complications arise though when the other kid from district 12 is chosen, a boy named Peeta. He seems like such a good boy and well, without saying too much, let me just say I rooted for him pretty much immediately. But only one is allowed to survive, right?

We enter the Hunger Games, and there are some turn of events here that literally had my gasping out loud. Yes, there are 24 kids here, who are to be slaughtered in  a number of ways. Yet, seeing as we are following Katniss, who is not present at most of the deaths, it’s not as cruel as you might think. Instead, as a reader you focus on her, and how she will survive. I don’t like when things get too cruel and dark. Generally, I need some heart and warmth to keep me going in a book. But let me assure you, that despite the cruel premise in this book, there are some real heart-warming moments. That’s what makes it so good.

I really only have one minor criticism, and that is the ending, which clearly needs a follow-up. It’s not exactly a cliff-hanger but you will want to read the next book, Catching Fire, pretty much straight away.

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.