Tag Archives: paranormal romance

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.

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

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.

Advertisements

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!

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

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: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

11 Aug

Series: Mortal Instruments, book #4

Published: April 5th 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 424 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

I absolutely loved the first three books of MI series, and was thrilled to continue the series. Sadly, it left me disappointed. The plot was all over the place, more problems were thrown at Jace and Clary, and my favorite character Jace turned into an emo. Still ok read because of the great setting and the writing, but nowhere near as good as the first three.

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

A few chapters in:

I have finally started reading the fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments. I’m feeling a bit giddy as I dive into this wonderful world of Cassanda Clare’s again. Actually, it’s a mixture of giddiness and nervousness. I’m eager to revisit this world, but also anxious about not messing up that perfect ending that was City of Glass. In particularly when it comes to Jace and Clary.

Nevertheless, I still want to read it. And, it’s on the top of my “what to read next” poll! Thanks to all who voted!!

Okay, so taking a deep breath here, and diving in:

I’m now a few chapters in. Clary’s friend, the vampire Simon is the narrator in this installment, and he is experiencing some problems. Firstly, there are problems of a romantic nature, as he is dating not one, but two girls at the same time: Werewolf Maia and shadowhunter Isabelle, who are bound to find out about each other soon. Then, there is his mom, who is growing increasingly suspicious of his weird habits (such as never eating), and is starting to demand answers.

The biggest problem however is his new status as the untouchable daylighter. That is, not only is he the only vampire who can walk in daylight (hence the nickname daylighter), but since The City of Glass, he is also protected by a rune mark on his forehead.  A rune that Clary gave him in order to save his life. All this makes him a very powerful vampire, and a threat to many others.

A vampire named Camille Belcourt (you may remember her from Clockwork Angel), has realized his potential power, and asks him to join her on her quest to become the leader of the NY vampire clan.

But does Simon really want to become involved in vampire power struggles?

As Simon ponders these issues, we also get a look into the Shadowhunter institute where Clary is now conducting her training to become a full-fledged shadowhunter. She and Jace are as much in love as before, all though Jace has been distancing himself slightly.

Oh no! Don’t give me that again!

But yes, I am definitely sensing troubles on the Clary and Jace horizon. Jace is once again doubting himself, or so I think.

I’ll admit I’m not too happy about that development. BUT, I am loving everything else. The characters, the dialogues, the humour, the vividly described settings are all spot on. And I am certainly feeling the pull..
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I have a hard time writing this review, hence why it’s taken so long. But I guess I just have to get over it and write the words I’ve been dreading to spell out. I was disappointed.

There, I said it.

I hate to be criticizing my favorite author Cassandra Clare, but I have to be honest and write what I feel, sorry all you fans of the Mortal Instruments Series!

What I feel is that City of Glass was the true end to the series, but as Clare decided to extend the series, she had to quickly come up with a continuation. Consequently, the plot in this installment suffered. It felt forced.

The only part of the plot that was intriguing was the beginning, where Simon is being drawn into the politics of the vampires. I so wish she would have continued on that path.

Sadly, the first intriguing chapters quickly fell into the background, as a number of other irrelevant plot threads took the forefront. There is Simon who is tormented by two-timing his two girlfriends and his desire to drink blood. The new character Kyle is introduced, but does not really bring anything new. There are lots of preparations for a wedding that never actually takes place. Some shadowhunters are also being killed but that all happens off-page. Alec and Magnus are off on some honey-mooney kind of trip and keep sending pictures to the rest of the group. Clary is learning some self-defense. And what not else.

The overall feeling was a plot that felt jumbled, and a bit messy. The POV also changed like there was no tomorrow, and added to my confusion.

However, messy plot aside, what really disappointed me, more than anything else, was the problems Jace and Clary were having.

I had no problems with their issues in the previous books, but City of Glass brought a sense of closure for these two. And having them getting into more problems now felt like a huge step backward. Moreover, the issues they experienced this time around felt forced, as if Clare had to desperately create something to keep the lovers apart (and supposedly keep the readers interested). It was almost as if I could see her thinking: Okay, now the sibling problem is solved, so what do we do now?

She essentially tries to (re)create the romantic tension with the “I don’t deserve you because I’m too dangerous for you” -dilemma, something which is really getting very old. I’m not impressed with Clare trying to implement that here. Not impressed at all.

I also didn’t like that Clary and Jace, after all they had gone through, couldn’t talk about their problems sooner. You’d think they’d be closer to each other than that. It also annoyed me how their characters changed in this book, Jace going all emo on us  and Clary going all whiny about whether Jace loved her or not. I mean come on! In all seriousness, can she really doubt Jace’s love now??

The ending promises more problems regarding the Jace and Clary relationship, and I can only sigh. I so wish Clare had taken a different direction. I wish she had left Clary and Jace alone, and concentrated on Simon and his new adventures instead. Why didn’t she?

Ah well. For the first time ever with a Cassandra Clare book I am actually contemplating whether to read the next book or not. I probably will, just out of pure curiosity but if the end is any indication of where this is going, I am pretty much convinced I will be disappointed again. Damn it Clare, you should have left it where it was!

At least we have her other series to look forward to, which I am truly grateful for. I never thought I’d say this but I am now looking more forward towards The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments Series.

The fifth installment City of Lost Souls to be published in May 2012.

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.

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

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

25 Jun

Series: Jessica, book #1

Published: February 1st 2009 by Harcourt

Details: Hardcover, 351 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

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

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

A few chapters in:

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

So why starting it now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
After finishing the book:

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

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

Does it work?

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Evernight by Claudia Gray

21 Jun

Series: Evernight, book #1

Published: February 10th 2009 by HarperTeen

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 1/5

My Summary:

About Bianca who reluctantly enters the eery boarding school Evernight, meets Lucas and falls in love. Half way through, an important secret is revealed about the school. Shallow characters, contrived dialogues, fuzzily explained world-building, a romance that is more telling than showing. I could not even get through the book. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

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

A few chapters in:

There are two books out there that appear on literally every “what to read after twilight” list, and which I haven’t read. Evermore by Alison Noel and Evernight by Claudia Gray.

Ever since I started this blog, I have been debating with myself whether to read them or not, more out of curiosity than anything else, because lets’ face it. The reviews haven’t been all that great.

Then just recently, two things happened around the same time.

1) I stumbled upon a raving review of Evernight.

2) I realized that I might have mixed up the two books.

You see, I decided quite early on that Evermore didn’t seem like a book I wanted to read in the near future (judging by the reviews), and so Evernight was put in the same box, not having done much else than having a similar title (stupid of me I know).

However, it suddenly dawned on me that I might have just misjudged Evernight. That maybe, just maybe it was a good book and I had missed something?

Enough said. I started reading it and I’m now a few chapters in.

The story takes place at the boarding school Evernight. 16-year old Bianca has just moved there together with her parents who are teachers at the school. She is not very happy about having switched her nice and comfortable hometown to this eery and goth boarding school where she knows no one but her parents.

We enter the story when she is about to run away from the school. On her way through the woods, she realizes she is being followed by a young man. Terrified, she sprints through the underbrush and so does he, until he manages to overtake her. Only, we soon learn that he wasn’t actually chasing her, just trying to protect her. He thought she was running from someone else in the woods, and so decided that throwing himself over her was a good idea to stop the attacker. Say what??

But yes, you heard it right. And this is how we are introduced to Lucas, Bianca’s love interest.

You know, I really wanted to give this book a chance, but that first scene literally had me rolling my eyes. Can’t be a good sign. Still, I’m carrying on..

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t get much better. Bianca is shy and introvert, yet despite this fact seems to be making quite a lot of friends here and there, including within the “in crowd”. There is the love triangle, which I don’t mind as long as it is believable, see Nightshade. Here, not so much.

We get that the other guy Balthazar, also the most popular and handsome guy in school, has taken an interest in Bianca. Yet we are never treated to any conversation between the two of them apart from the occasional phrase here and there. Consequently, I’m having problems grasping who Balthazar is and why he is so into Bianca. All I know is that Balthazar is incredibly friendly towards everyone, good-looking and well, just all around perfect.

Lucas on the other hand is moody, behaves weirdly, frequently starts fights with everyone, is hot and cold towards Bianca and what not else. Yet he is of course who Bianca wants.

Why am I even continuing this book, you might ask?

Well, I was just about to dismiss it, when something unexpected happened about midway through, and this has sparked a bit of interest. I’ve decided to keep going a bit more.
 
 

 
 
After finishing the book:

As you can see from above, I  wasn’t very impressed with the first half of the book, but I kept reading anyway. I’m not gonna lie, it was a struggle, but I am stubborn about finishing my books. I nearly gave up halfway through, but then something happened that surprised me, and I decided to continue a little bit further. What if it did get better?

Well no, it didn’t.

I fell about 80 pages from the finishing line. Or rather, I threw in the towel. I was already skimming large chunks of the pages to get to the end as fast as possible. And when that happens, there is really no point in continuing. There are far too many good books out there for me to waste my time on something that I could have written better myself.

Because seriously. That’s how I feel about this book. It’s really not good. At all.

Geez, where do I even start?

The whole book was all telling and no showing. We are only told how Bianca and Lucas feel about each other, and so I never felt any sparks whatsoever reading about these two. Bianca kept saying that Lucas was the only person she could truly be herself with, yet judging from her conversations with other characters, she seemed just as comfortable with them as with Lucas.

Speaking of the other characters, they were all cut-out card board shallow. Let’s for instance look at Lucas’s room-mate Vic. He is this surfer dude who is always in a happy mood, only there to move the plot along at times when Lucas and Bianca needed someone to chip in with dialogue or help. But who is he really? What motivates him?

And that goes for the rest of them. I had absolutely no idea of who the other characters were,  except for the one characteristic each that they were given i.e.  Balthazar is friendly, Patrice is shallow and Raquel is scared.

The writing was so poor that it threw me out of the story a number of times. I felt as if I were reading the script of a soap opera series, that’s how juvenile and stiff it was.

Then there was that surprise element that was thrown at us readers in the middle of the book, which I admit, at first sparked my interest only because I felt so dumbfounded. After the initial surprise had worn off though, irritation quickly followed.

Why?

Well, beware of spoilers:

For the whole first half of the book we are treated to Bianca’s insecurities and feelings of not belonging, and how eery she thinks the boarding school is. Then half way through, we find out that the reason why the school may seem a bit strange is because it is run by vampires. In fact, most of the students and teachers at Evernight are vampires, including Bianca!

We learn that (despite the first-person narrative), Bianca has known this all time along (while we readers had no clue). She was born a vampire, her parents are vampires, and she drinks blood every morning for breakfast. Yet, this little fact was deliberately not mentioned, so that it would come as a surprise to us readers later on. Once the surprise was out, vampire-related stuff was mentioned in just about every other sentence of the book.

I’m sorry folks, but that is just bad story telling. As I reader I felt cheated.

Moreover, I felt like I was reading about two different Biancas. In the first half she was a scared and shy girl, and in the second half she had suddenly become this self-assured strong vampire (or half vampire – whatever). The point is, I lost any concept I had of who Bianca was. Not the best character development if you ask me.

I could go on ranting (and believe me, there are things to rant about) but I think I’ve made my point clear. There are several books out in the series, Stargazer being the sequel. Needless to say, I won’t continue the series.

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!

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

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:

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

24 Apr

Series: Nightshade, book #1

Published: October 19th 2010 by Philomel

Details: Hardcover, 452 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

First book in a series. A different take on the werewolf myth and one of the best written love triangles I’ve seen in a while. Plus a great world-building and multi-dimensional characters. All in all, a wonderful book!! The sequel Wolfsbane out in July, and cannot wait!

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

A few chapters in:

I recently created a poll where you readers could vote and tell me what book to read next. Well, guess what book received the most votes?

That’s right, Nightshade! But before I go on, thanks to all of you who voted, I really appreciate getting your book recommendations!

Ok, so back to the topic at hand. Nightshade. All I know now is that this is the story about an alpha werewolf girl who falls in love with a human boy, thus it obviously draws some comparisons to Blood and Chocolate. It has also received great reviews. Needless to say, I’m excited to get started!

I’m now a few chapters in, and just like with Firelight, it starts bang on, where we’re literally thrown into an action scene when Calla (our werewolf heroine) saves a stranger human boy from getting killed by a bear in the mountains.

Little by little, we then learn the following about Calla. There are two rivaling wolf packs living in the mountains, The Nightshades and The Banes. As we enter the story, things are about to change. Calla, who is the daughter of the alpha of the Nightshades is to make a union (werewolf marriage I assume) with Ren, the son of the alpha of the Banes. This is a big thing, as everyone is now hoping to put an end to their fights. In particularly The Keepers (the rulers of all packs) are eager to make this work. Hence, Calla is feeling the pressure.

Enters the new enrollment in the mountain school, who happens to be the very guy Calla saved in the mountains. And complications arise, because this guy Shay has taken an interest in Calla, after their encounter in the mountains.

And that’s how far I’ve got. Or rather, of what I understood so far. Because truth to be told, I am a little bit confused. The new guy Shay seems to have connections within the werewolf community which was a bit of a surprise. Moreover, I’m not sure yet what Calla is thinking of her soon to be, Ren. True, he’s a casanova, but quite a charmer too, so not all that bad.  And what’s up with The Keepers, who are they? Not only do they seem to rule the two werewolf packs, they also rule the school.

In short, my head is swarming with questions, yet that’s what’s keeping me interested too. So it’s a good start and I’m certainly feeling the pull!

 

 

 

 

After finishing the book:

Wow! I don’t know where to start! This was such a great book! I read the first couple of chapters feeling slightly confused, because it’s a complex world-building that Cremer has created. And it does take a while to grasp the intricacies of that world – who is the master of who, learning the names of the members of the packs, the history, the rules and traditions and so on.

Once I did get into it though, I got into it deep! I read almost the entire book in one sitting! So yep, this is addictive stuff.

As explained above, Nightshade opens with Calla saving human Shay on the mountain top (revealing her true wolf form in the process), to later meet him as the new enrollment in her school. Which, on the surface sounds like the premise of any ordinary ya paranormal romance I read lately. In fact, after a chapter or so, I was already conjuring up in my mind what I thought was going to be the story line.

Well, little did I know that I was to be taken on a rollercoaster ride, along with the heroine, as layer after layer of the plot is revealed. And trust me, there are multiple layers. In fact so many things are going on at the same time, I’m seriously impressed with Cremer for pulling it off so effortlessly. This is what I call a great world-building!

But firstly, the characters, which as you know are the number one priority for me in any book. The characters in this novel was the real reason for why I loved it so much. Each character was so well-drawn, that I got the feeling that I was living right within the little wolf pack group myself.

There was Ansel, Calla’s brother who was discovering himself as the same time as being fiercely protective of his big sister. Bryn was the loyal, impulsive sweet friend. Sabine was supposedly the bitch but also someone who had sacrificed herself in order to protect the shy and quiet Cosette. Neville was the quite poet and musician and Max the outgoing and friendly guy who immediately takes in Shay into the group. Even Dax, the somewhat unfriendly second-in charge Wolfsbane member had his moments. In short, I loved reading about them all, as they felt so real!

Calla herself I also found to be a great heroine, strong and kick-ass yet vulnerable, trying to deal with a lot of pressure and problems in the best way possible. She wants to keep everyone happy, yet wants happiness on her own as well. I was with her on every step of the way. I simply loved her voice.

Thirdly and lastly, this novel contains one of the most real love triangles I have read in a while, (since I read Penitence), where both candidates are equally complex and strong. I usually at least have an inclination towards one of the guys in the end, but for the first time ever, I really have no clue!

I was resenting Ren at the start because he is a womanizer and even though hot and charming, I couldn’t forget the fact that he had been dating half the school, while knowing that Calla was his future partner. Like Calla says in the book: I don’t share. And I couldn’t agree more! Yet, after a while, I started to wonder if his womanizing was actually a reaction to Calla’s refusal of him. She never does give him a chance. Could it be that he has been in love with her all the time, but too insecure to show it?

Shay on the other hand I loved at the start. He is fearless and pushes the boundaries. He may have seemed a bit weak and confused at first, simply for being a human. But after a while, I found he started to behave more and more like an alpha. He challenges Ren, pushes Calla to see the truth, gets himself a place in the pack, and keeps showing his interest in Calla. While I loved that he wasn’t afraid to take actions, and to find the truth, he does get Calla into quite a lot of dangerous situations as he makes her break rule after rule. In the end though, he realizes this himself and apologizes which made me like him again.

In short, I understood Calla’s inner struggles to choose between them. Even though Ren proves to be a great guy, he represents what she ought to do, in a structured world she now wants to escape. Shay on the other hand is the new, exciting and forbidden aspect of her life. And he is in danger.

In the end I don’t think she’s consciously choosing any of the guys, it’s more coincidence and circumstances. It will be really interesting to follow this triangle in the next book, to see if a favorite will finally emerge.

Lastly, I only have one minor criticism which was the event which took place in the cave with Shay, which I thought felt a bit rushed. It’s supposed to take a while to learn, yet Shay managed the transition a little bit too easy. You know, one night in the woods, and now he’s a pro.

Yet, it’s a small criticism to an otherwise wonderful book. Thanks again to all of you who recommended me to read it. I’m now eagerly waiting for Wolfsbane, the second installment due to hit shelves in July this summer.

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

13 Apr

Series: Vampire Academy, book #4

Published: August 25th 2009 by Razorbill

Details: Hardcover, 503 pages

My Rating: 5/5

My Summary:

Fourth book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose has dropped out of school and is traveling through Russia in order to hunt down the man she loves. I loved experiencing the world outside the VA gates with Rose! Amazing book!! Cannot wait to read Spirit Bound, next in the series.

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

A few chapters in:

I just started reading this fourth installment of the Vampire Academy Series, and boy am I excited! As you know, if you’ve been following this blog, I wasn’t always a fan of the Vampire Academy. In fact, it was a gradual process, which by the way can be seen in the grades.

Vampire Academy started off on an enjoyable but not great 3.5 grade. Frostbite hit a higher mark (4/5) as it was a great entertaining read. Shadow Kiss with its devastating ending reached an almost perfect 4.5.

Question is now, will Blood Promise be the first Vampire Academy book (in my opinion) to score a perfect 5/5 mark? Only one way to find out!

And here is where I advise anyone who has not yet read Shadow Kiss to stop reading, because some serious spoilers are coming up!

Okay, so in Shadow Kiss things changed quite dramatically. For one, Rose has dropped out of the academy, only months prior to her graduation. Moreover, she has abandoned her plans to work as the guardian of Lissa. In fact she’s left Lissa to take care of herself. The reason for all of this?

She is on a mission. To kill the man she loves. Dimitri. Yep folks, I still have a hard time believing this, but in the last battle with the Strigoi in Shadow Kiss Dimitri was captured by the Strigoi and turned. Rose, who is heart-broken by this turn of events has decided to take matters in her own hand (as she always does), and go after Dimitri – or the new undead Dimitri – in order to kill him. Because she knows he would rather be dead than walk the earth as a soulless Strigoi.

Hence, at the start of this book we find Rose in Russia. She’s following a hunch that Dimitri might have returned to his birth town in Sibiria. Problem is, she has no idea where that is.

After lingering in St Petersburg for a while, staying close to other Moroi in the hopes of finding information, she runs into another girl. A human girl who, it turns out, is an alchemist; someone who helps the vampire world stay hidden from humans. This job includes disposing of dead Strigoi bodies before they’re discovered, and not surprisingly, she has been kept quite busy ever since Rose turned up in the city.

Upon questioning Sydney, as the girl is called, Rose learns that she knows where Dimitri’s Damphir town is. Problem is, she can’t tell Rose the location. Instead she’s ordered (by some mysterious superiors) to take Rose there herself.

Hence, the two of them end up on the Transibirian train heading towards that town, and this is where I am at now.

Needless to say, I am so excited. I always wanted to know more of world outside the walls of the Vampire Academy, and that’s exactly what’s happening now. Moreover, the descriptions of Russia are wonderful, and having traveled on that Transibirian myself, I can tell you this – Mead knows what she’s talking about! It’s as if I’m revisiting that train trip once again, that’s how real it feels.

In short, it’s starting great and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

 


 

After finishing the book:

Holy freaking crap! That was an intense ride! Yep, you’ve guessed it, I just finished Blood Promise, the fourth installment of the VA series. A series that just keep getting better and better.

This installment was the best so far as Rose travels to Russia in search for Dimitri. And wow, how I love it! I loved learning about the outside world of the Vampire Academy, the alchemists, the unpromised, the Damphir towns and mobster Moroi, the feel of Russia and all the new characters.

Yet, we never lose touch with the group of people we’ve come to know (Lissa, Adrian and co) at the Vampire Academy, as Rose keeps visiting Lissa’s mind from time to time. As much as I liked those characters (Christian and Adrian especially), I have to admit though that to me, those visits where the weaker part of the story. I was far happier accompanying Rose on her adventures in Russia than following Lissa on her journey through the social intrigues of the Vampire Academy and Court World.

This may be because I’ve really come to love Rose. She is without a doubt one of the coolest heroines out there. Bad-ass, yet vulnerable, huge heart, tough, protective and of course witty. Essentially, she’s a heroine I could follow to the end of the world. Which is surprising considering what I thought of her in the beginning. Talk about character growth!

Now, as for the actual plot:

As I mentioned above, Sydney the alchemist, accompanies Rose to Baia, Dimitri’s birth town where Rose ends up staying with Dimitri’s family for a while. Some reviewers commented that this part was a bit of a filler as nothing much happened during this period. Me? I loved every second. I drank in every detail of Dimitris house, his wonderful family, scary witch granny included and everything that came with it.

Eventually though, it was time to move on, and I think we all knew this was bound to happen. Rose finds Dimitri. Now this was interesting. Or no, wrong word. Excruciating! Back was the lump in my throat, my pounding heart and chest pain. Dimitri is a Strigoi, and so he has lost his soul, or has he? I found myself being as confused as Rose. Evil or good? Good or evil? Along with Rose I’d change opinion every few paragraphs. Excruciating indeed.

The ending provided another couple of twists, that I didn’t see coming at all (well, apart from the Dimitri dilemma that I kind of guessed would happen). Question is now, what about Adrian? Will he ever get a chance? Should he? Geez, I’m torn, because he really grew in my eyes in this book.

All in all, I am SO loving this series now, and I cannot get enough of this world. Thank god there are two more books to delve into, Spirit Bound being the next!

Review: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

12 Apr

Series: No, stand-alone

Published: September 7th 1999 by Laurel Leaf

Details: Paperback, 264 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Stand-alone book about a werewolf girl who falls in love with a human boy. Or so I thought. It ends up being about so much more. First half of the book left me unimpressed, as the romance was dull and I couldn’t relate to the main character. But as I read more, it changed, and in the end I loved it! So all in all, a good book.

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

A few chapters in:

This is another one of those pre-twilight books that I’ve heard is good.

With pre-twilight I mean paranormal young adult romance published before the Twilight Phenomenon. The first one that captured my attention was Old Magic by Marianne Curley, which despite its many rave reviews (from which age group I’m now wondering?) turned out to be.. well.. not so good.

I’m hoping that Blood and Chocolate will prove to be better, as in aimed not solely at 14 year-old teens (which seemed to be the case with Old Magic). Hence, it’s with a slightly wary feeling that I approach this book.

I’m now a few chapters in. The lead character Vivian is a werewolf. She’s part of a pack of werewolves who, following a terrible fire at their last residence, have been moving around ever since. The restlessness of not having a new place to live combined with the absence of a good leader is making the pack falling apart. In short, we’re meeting a pack in shambles.

Meanwhile Vivian, like any other teenage girl, goes to school. She is, and has always been an outcast in school, a fact that has never really bothered her..until now. In order to pass her free time, she creates arty pictures of her werewolf life, which is published in the school magazine.

One day she discovers that a poem written by some guy named Aiden is accompanying one of her published pictures, a poem that vividly describes the experience of being a werewolf. The fact that Aiden is human, and should know nothing about werewolves, peaks Vivian’s curiosity.

So much in fact, that she decides to contact him, which in turn leads to accepting his proposition to go on a date.

And this is as far as I’ve got. Vivian’s mom has just banned their planned date, because according to the pack, humans and werewolves just don’t mix. I think we can safely assume that Vivian is going to meet Aiden anyway…

 

 

After finishing the book:

Ok, I’ve finished the book and my first thought is this:

Thank god I am a stubborn reader.

Because, if I hadn’t been, I would have quit mid way through. No doubt about that. That first half dragged so much that I almost chastised myself for continuing.

Then somewhere after those first 150 or so pages, I gradually started to care, and before I knew it I was truly engaged in the story, so much that I would have given it a 4, hadn’t it been for the slow unimpressive start.

As for the plot, Blood and Chocolate opens with a setting we are quite familiar with now in the YA paranormal romance genre. A mythical creature (werewolf Vivian) falls in love with a human boy (Aiden) and the pack of mythical creatures (werewolves) do not approve.

Because of such a similar opening to other books I’ve read lately, I think I was expecting a different kind of story than it was. For one, I was expecting the love story between Vivian and Aiden to have been more captivating. I was expecting to watch them fall in love and then see them struggling against the problems that were sure to follow their star-crossed relationship.

So imagine my surprise when I watched Vivian head out on her first date with Aiden, I turned the page and next thing I read was a recap about how they’d now been together for a while. Say what?? No details, barely no conversations, nor explanations of what happened, or why they connected or anything. They saw each other at school, went out on a date (which wasn’t even described) and now that was it, they were a couple!

A lot of make out sessions followed, and I remained clueless of who Aiden was, nor was I very fond of Vivian as I couldn’t grasp her personality, more than that she was quite sure of herself when it came to guys. Meanwhile, we got to follow the pack as they struggled through some problems. Which didn’t help, because I failed to find anything engaging in any of the characters of the pack. In fact, they all seemed quite aggressive, volatile and egoistic, including Vivian’s mom who must be about the worst mom ever portrayed in YA literature. Well, that might not be true (I just recalled Janie’s mom in Wake), but you get my point.

And so that’s how it went on for a large chunk of the book. Needless to say, I struggled.

Then suddenly, it took an unexpected turn, and my interest was awakened ever so slightly, because what was going to happen now? I suddenly found myself having no idea.

Gradually, things started to spiral out of control and in the meantime I found myself caring for Vivian. She no longer seemed so sure of herself, and her thoughts started to make sense to me.  Some of the others in the pack started to stand out as well, in particularly one other person. If you’ve read the book, you know who I’m talking about.

At the end, I could not let go of the book. I really couldn’t. I think I read the last couple of chapters in one heart beat. So yep folks, this is something as unusual as a book that starts on a 2/5 and ends in a 4. How often does that happen?

Problem is now, could I really recommend a book with such a rocky start? Having read the full story now, I’ve almost forgotten how uninterested I was at first. In fact, I think that if I read it again, now that it all makes sense, I would probably enjoy this story so much more.

Finally, I’d say that if you like unpredictable books with a slightly darker tone (yet still hopeful) then yes, I do recommend you to read Blood and Chocolate. Just be prepared for a slow start, that’s all.

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

5 Apr

Series: Firelight, book #1

Published: September 7th 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 323 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Summary:

First book in series which has been described as a Twilight with dragons. Starts out great with an exciting draki world, and a promising romance with a human boy. But as I read more, my interest fizzled out, since the romance didn’t capture me, and the heroine’s constant and monotonous inner worries got tiring. Won’t continue the series.

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

A few chapters in:

Twilight with dragons. That’s how this novel has been described. At first, I wasn’t too interested, simply because dragons didn’t really appeal to me.

But then the reviews started pouring in, and after reading quite a few 5-star reviews about the incredible romance, I caved in. Dragons or not, if it has romance, I want to read it!

I am now a few chapters in. And let me tell you, there’s no slow build-up here. Already in the very first chapter we are provided with a thrilling action scene, with our heroine running from draki-hunters which results in a strange encounter with a beautiful boy.

Eventually, the facts are presented. The heroine Jacinda is a draki. That is, she looks like a human, but she can turn into a draki at will (mostly anyway). She lives with her mom and her sister in a secret draki society called The Pride. Ever since her father’s death, and the rise of the evil king Severin, life in The Pride has gotten more difficult. Which is why Jacinda’s mom one day decides to bring her girls with her and escape the society.

They end up settling down in a small town out in the desert, far away from The Pride. Jacinda and her sister Tamra start school, for the first time ever, and well, this is where I’m at now. Jacinda has just realized that, not only is school a strange experience, but the beautiful boy she met earlier also goes to this very same school..

I look forward towards Jacinda getting to know that boy, as I’m expecting the romance to be really cute.  However, I also feel that I may be too old for this book, that it is a bit too teen for me.

Well, only one way to find out!


 

After finishing the book:

Okay, so I just finished the book last night, and I can’t help but feeling a little disappointed. It started out so great, with an intense action scene and promises of a great forbidden romance.

But, as I read more, the plot sort of fizzled out.  The great premise and exiting build-up turned into a stereotypical  love-at-first-sight romance with a plot that at times got so cliché it had me rolling my eyes.

Now, if you think about it, it is weird that I reacted this way. Because if you know me – and have read my reviews – you know that I love romance. Especially when it’s hot and steamy, includes a supernatural twist and is sprinkled with a bit of danger.

Yet, this particular romance, though it contained all of the above elements, didn’t capture me. Strange indeed.

But I have a couple of theories as to why:

Firstly, the heroine. I could not connect with the girl, or worse, I actually found her annoying. It started out all right, but somewhere along the road frustration started to creep in as I had to follow her (as I discovered) very monotonous internal monologue.

I usually have no problems with inner monologues – in fact I like them because it gives me an insight into the main character and helps me connect with him/her. What I do have a problem with though, is when it gets too repetitious.

And Jacinda’s thoughts were just that, repetitious. She went on and on about the same issues (should or should she not see Will, how to keep her draki alive) for the entire book. Don’t get me wrong, I understood her issues. But having to hear those same thoughts over and over again got very tiring in the end. Especially since they never developed and she never reached any conclusions.  Just the same thoughts rephrased over and over again..and again..and again..yawn.

Secondly, the romance between Will and Jacinda was, yes I admit steamy at places. But it went way too quickly from “I’m attracted to you” to “You’re the love of my life to the point that I could die for you”. You know what I mean?

I like romances to build slowly. I like to feel how they gradually get to know each other and fall in love. Essentially I want to understand why they connect.

None of that materialized here.

Will and Jacinda shared a sizzling attraction. End of story.

I realized this after a while when it became apparent that.. hey, they never actually talk!? The few dialogues they exchanged (between their make out sessions and looking longingly into each others eyes) contained two or three sentences at the most, which by the way usually felt really contrived. I failed to see how that was love, or even a connection on any deeper level. Yet, Will declared his love after only a couple of chapters and yes, you guessed it, I rolled my eyes.

Thirdly, there were too many similarities to Twilight, so much that it actually bothered me a bit. At one point I couldn’t help thinking if she (Jordan) was trying to create a new Edward Cullen. Because seriously, there were too many incidents that pointed in that direction.

For one, Will is the unattainable gorgeous guy at school who hasn’t touched a girl until Jacinda comes along. Then, as soon as she does come along, he immediately starts stalking her, waiting by her house at 2 am in the morning, climbing in through the window, and (get this!) breaks into her house one morning to make her breakfast. When Jacinda happens to end up among other hunters, he turns really protective and growls.

And finally, just as I thought he could not get any more Edward-like, he utters the phrase: so the hunter falls in love with his prey.

Ring any bells?

All that said, what made it hard to connect to Will was not the Twilight similarities, but the fact that I knew nothing about him. Or rather, what I knew seemed too perfect. You know, not one single flaw. Which in my book always equals boring.

Even Cassian (the son of the evil king Severin) seemed more interesting, and given the little page-time he had in the book, that says something.

In the end, what saved this book from a 2/5 was the intriguing beginning, a few steamy sequences involving Jacinda and Will, and last but not least the colourful descriptions of Jacinda’s draki. In fact, all the draki-stuff was very well portrayed.

All though I had never read anything even remotely touching on dragons before, and hence was a complete draki-novice, Jordan really captured these creatures well. To the point that I understood how hard it was for Jacinda to face that dreadful heat when her natural habitat was mist and mountains. I felt the steam rise up in her when threatened, and I enjoyed the relief when her wings finally unfurled.

But unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The characters are always a number one priority for me, and if I can’t connect with them..the rest falls flat. Hence, I won’t continue the series.

The next installment Vanish is to be released in September this year.

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

1 Apr

Series: Vampire Academy, book #3

Published: November 13th 2008 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 443 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

Third book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose with friends are back, for their senior year at the Vampire Academy. Rose struggles with many issues in this book, in particularly the dark side effects of being shadow-kissed. Hence this book is quite a bit darker, if compared the first two books. And I am so becoming a VA addict here, this book and in particular the ending blew me away.  Fourth book is called Blood Promise.

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

A few chapters in:

The Vampire Academy series is growing on me. I started out feeling just okay about it, as in yes, definitely an entertaining read but nothing to write home about.

After reading the sequel Frostbite however, I noticed how on finishing the book, my hands started itching to get a copy of the next book in the series. In other words, I was getting slightly more hooked.

Fast forward a few weeks, and here I am sitting with Shadow Kiss, book number 3 in the series, also rumoured to be the book – bound to make anyone who hasn’t got VA addicted yet (such as me) a complete convert. A bit like the fourth book in the Harry Potter series.

Needless to say, I’m eager to get started.

I’m now a few chapters in. After surviving the terrible Stigroi attack in Frostbite, Rose and her friends are back at St Vladimir’s, where life continues, more or less like before.

A very important school test is coming up – a 6 weeks field experience – where each Dhampir is assigned to guard a Moroi on school grounds. Occasionally, the instructors will try to “harm” the Morois and the Dhampirs are to be graded according to how well they protect their subjects during these fake attacks.

Rose is of course looking forward to spend 6 weeks with Lissa (who she assumes will be her subject), but gets an unpleasant surprise when it’s revealed that she is to guard Lissa’s boyfriend Christian instead. Christian is not too bad though and they soon realise that they get along better than they thought.

Meanwhile, something very strange is happening to Rose. She’s seems to be seeing ghosts – at least that is what she thinks it is, as the person she keeps seeing is the dead Mason. As you may recall, Mason is Rose’s friend who got killed in Frostbite. Rose fears that she’s loosing her mind, and keeps it a secret, even as one of these very “ghost sightings” lands her into trouble in school.

And this is as far as I’ve got. Even though not much has happened yet, I feel quite happy to delve into this world again, with Rose, Lissa, Dimitri, Christian and not to forget Adrian – our new acquaintance and spirit user from Frostbite. Review coming soon.

 

 

After finishing the book:

It’s been two days since I finished reading the book, and I just can’t seem to let it go. Wow!  It’s like everything just intensified. It went from being a fun light-hearted young adult series which I’ve read as pure entertainment up until now, to a darker gut-wrenching story that would not release me from its firm grip until the very last page.

I noticed the change while I was reading the second half of the book, as my heart started going like mad, my chest ached, and I realized I had a lump in my throat. I eventually had to stop for a few moments, to take a deep breath and remind myself that jeez Tess, this is just a book! Get a grip!

So yeah, to cut it short, this series is finally getting to me.

At the start of the book however, I wasn’t feeling it just yet. Or rather, it felt like a prolongation of the previous book Frostbite, that is, entertaining and fun. There were the ever-present issues at school, with rumours, jealousy, dealing with the bond to Lissa, evading Adrian’s flirting etc, and Rose kept getting into all sorts of trouble as usual.

Then gradually, darker forces began creeping into the story as Rose started noticing the consequences of being shadow-kissed. As you may recall, shadow-kissed essentially means brought back from the dead. Which is what happened all those years ago, when Lissa used her spirit powers in order to revive Rose.

Understandably, Rose finds it terrifying to realize that something unknown is happening to her, and to not know for sure what it is.  I mean how bad are the consequences? Is it something she will be able to live with or something that will destroy her life? As far as Rose knows, there has only ever been one other shadow-kissed person before, and that is Anna – the guardian of St Vladimir (whom the academy is named after). Problem is, Anna is dead and hence, is not much help in the advise-department.

At the same time, and possible derived from the darker shadow-kissed side effects, Rose also starts to question her choice as a life-time guardian. Like every Damphir trained to be a guardian, during her whole life she has been drilled with the mantra: the Moroi always come first. But, as Lissa starts planning her life for college, assuming Rose is to follow her to wherever she decides to go, the very thought of living a life as someone’s shadow is starting to frustrate Rose.

After struggling on her own with these issues (and more) for quite some time, Rose finally finds someone to confide in..Dimitri. And let me just say, that all though I already had a soft spot for Dimitri, he really grew in my eyes in this book. He really did. What an absolutely wonderful guy!

That said, he wasn’t the only person I got more attached to. I really enjoyed seeing more of the others as well, Adrian, Christian, Lissa, Eddie and not to forget Mason. I admire Mead for creating such well-rounded secondary characters, each one with good and bad sides, each driven by different motivations – just like in real life.

Christian in particular keeps growing in my eyes, mainly because he is such a vulnerable and strong character at the same time. I love his complexity. I keep feeling for Adrian too, who has now shown us that he is much more than just a drunken flirt.

I suppose Lissa is the character I feel the least for now at this moment, seeing as her friendship with Rose has been kind of one-sided lately. Her character however is also understandable as she has grown up with the same mantra drilled into her head as Rose – that Moroi always come first.  Considering the other Moroi Royals, she still stands out as one of the best Moroi out there. And putting myself in her shoes, I would probably have been upset too, knowing that my best friend kept all those secrets from me.

My only worry now is, will all these wonderful characters appear in the next book? You know, for the first time in this series, I really have no clue! Which is also of course what makes it so exciting! As for the other stuff, my chest keeps aching and the lump in my throat is still there – if you’ve read the book you know what I mean. I won’t even try to predict an outcome there, let’s just hope for a miracle, okay?

I’ve already ordered and received Blood Promise, the fourth book in the series (and thank god for that!). Expect that review to be coming up soon!

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

10 Feb

Series: Vampire Academy, book # 2

Published: April 10th 2008 by Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

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

A few chapters in:

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

So what had I missed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

After finishing the book:

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

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

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

And here’s why:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 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: Entice by Carrie Jones

19 Jan

Series: Need, book #3

Published: December 7th 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Details: Paperback, 264 pages

My rating: 2/5

My Summary:

Third installment of Need series. Zara is now a pixie queen. Astley is her king, and she is on a mission: bring Nick back from Valhalla. I loved Need, but nothing could hold my attention here. This book was a mess. Juvenile, flat characters and a straggling plot. Won’t continue the series.

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

A few chapters in:

As you may know if you read my review of  Need, I absolutely loved that book. Zara’s grief  and fears rang true to me, the novelty of the pixies was exciting and of course there was the steamy romance between Nick and Zara. Impossible not to get addicted!

Unfortunately the sequel Captivate did not reach the same amazing levels as Need. Why? Well, I was craving growth and resolution in Captivate, and it failed to deliver on those two points. Characters stayed the same (or even went more immature) and most of my questions were left unanswered. I still enjoyed reading it, and so I always knew that I was going to read Entice, in the hopes that this third installment would restore my faith in this series. Time to find out if it will.

I’ve now read a few chapters and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any magic a la Need just yet. On the contrary actually. But it may be too early to tell. Let’s hope so.

Entice starts just where Captivate left off with Zara and her friends heading off to the school dance. As you know if you’ve read the previous books, Nick is dead, or rather he was taken to a resting place for dying warriors, meaning he may in fact still be alive. Zara has gotten herself transformed into a pixie, in order to bring Nick back. Apparently humans are not allowed to that resting place, and so she had to change. Moreover, she is now a pixie queen seeing as Astley – the pixie king who appeared in Captivate – changed her.

Zara however does not care about being a pixie queen. Her only goal is getting Nick back. Yet she fears that Nick will no longer love her when he finds out about her change. Nick hates pixies.

As in the previous books, the pixies are now roaming the woods looking for boys to torture to satisfy their needs. Being a pixie herself, Zara can now finally help with protecting humans from these pixies, and at the dance she does just that, stopping a couple of pixies from kidnapping teens.

Astley keeps reappearing here and there, and he remains kind and patient. Yet he is not the most talkative guy out there. I would like him to let Zara in on one or two things on the pixie stuff, because seriously, it’s starting to get very vague here, and I need some answers! For one, why is there going to be a war? Where do all these pixie kings come from? Why do some of these pixies (the evil ones) feel the need to torture boys? Is that something they need in order to survive? Why boys in particular? And why do the good pixies not feel the need to do that? Oh, well there’s more, but you get my drift. Answers please!

Moreover, I keep feeling that Zara has gone slightly too immature for my liking. For instance, in the middle of a deep conversation with Devyn, she decides to squeal, jump up and roll around in the snow. Say what??? And that’s just one example. Let’s just say, I’ve been scratching my head quite frequently over the course of these first chapters.

In short, let’s hope for some character growth here.  And answers..I need answers..

 

 

After finishing the book:

Well, I finished the book last night. And did I get my most needed answers?

No, I didn’t. Worse still, I’m no longer interested in hearing them. I’m sorry all you fans of the Need series (myself included) but this book was a mess.

I think the main problem was the plot which was so haphazard that it felt as if the author was making it up as she went. The whole book was about rescuing Nick from Valhalla. Problem was, no one knew how to actually get to Valhalla. So chapter after chapter was essentially devoted to Zara and Astley trying to find ways to get there. And failing, over and over again. When action was needed, Zara or someone else got hurt. Or we got to know a bit more about Astley. But other than that, not much of a plot.

Sometimes the conclusion outweighs a non-existent plot (see Linger), but that did not materialize either. In fact, the conclusion just provided me with even more questions (to store with my other trillions of questions from the previous installments, thank you very much).

I had a problem with the characters as well. Zara seemed downright immature, and more often than not I struggled to follow her train of thought because it wasn’t coherent. It was grave one second, then squealing of happiness the next. Astley was probably the character I felt the most for, all though that’s not saying much. I did however wonder why he was so bent on Zara getting back her wolf. It felt as if he neglected everything else (an eminent war, leading and taking care of his pixies etc) just for the sake of helping Zara. I failed to see how that made a responsible king, which is supposedly what Astley was.

Unless he had other motivations for helping Zara, apart from his goal of Zara finally having Nick back so that she could stop missing Nick and start loving Astley instead. Yes folks, this was apparently Astley’s main motivation for helping Zara, believe it or not. A bit too goodie-goodie don’t you think?

So, back to the other characters, Issie, Devyn, Betty etc. They were all brilliantly drawn in Need, and to some extent in Captivate as well. In this installment however they were reduced to flat cut-out cardboard characters, only existing in the plot to worry and help Zara on her mission to Valhalla.

It would have been interesting if at least one of these characters had provided some resistance to the Valhalla mission, or at least doubts, because there were reasons to doubt. They had no idea what they were doing – if Nick was even alive, and all the while people were dying in Maine. But the whole group just kept cheering on Zara and encouraged her to move on. Boring!

Lastly, I was getting seriously irritated at all the questions not being answered, which made me wonder if even the author knew the answers to them. As you know if you’ve read any supernatural fiction, it’s the how’s and why’s that make a great world-building great. Small details are weaved together into a logical pattern and suddenly you are presented with a world-building which feels intricate and most importantly: believable.

In Entice, the world building of the pixies is as haphazard as the plot, with plenty of details, but all lacking explanations, and never weaved into a whole picture.  Consequently, I had a hard time believeing in the world that Jones had created. Never a good sign.

In the end, I just gave up. I did get to the last page, but not without effort. And unless the next installment receives skyrocket high reviews, this is the end of the pixie road for me. No more squeeing Zara White for me, I’m done!

The next installment to be published sometime this year.

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

8 Jan

Series: The Infernal Devices, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 479 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

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

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

A few chapters in:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

After finishing the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bottom Line:

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

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

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

31 Dec

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #2

Published:  July 13th 2010 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 362 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

A continuation of Sam and Grace from Shiver. Sam is now cured, but as spring approaches Grace starts feeling unwell. While beautifully written, the pacing in this book is off and I’m still not connecting with Sam and Grace. I did however like the new addition Cole. Overall, okay read. Third installment Forever to hit the shelves next summer.

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

A few chapters in:

If you’ve read my review of the first installment Shiver you might know that I didn’t outright love that book. I thought I was going to devour it, as the story seemed to be right up my alley with an Edward-Bella type of a romantic couple set in a paranormal environment (with werewolves instead of vampires). Problem was, Sam and Grace did not resonate with me in the same way that Edward and Bella did. Why? I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t care for them as much as I should have.

That said, it was beautifully written, with an intriguing and original plot that included well-rounded secondary characters (Isabel especially), and so I always knew I wanted to return to the wolves of Mercy Falls. The question was only when.

Well, the time has now come to delve into the sequel, and I’m already a few chapters in. Some time has passed since we left them in Shiver. It’s still winter but there are early signs of spring. Like in Shiver, there are alternating POV’s. This time however, two more POV’s have been added apart from Sam and Grace, namely Isabel and a new character Cole. Cole is one of the new werewolves that Beck recruited just before changing to a werewolf himself, presumably for the last time. Consequently, we don’t know much about Cole, except for the fact that for some reason he must have willingly agreed to become a werewolf, or else Beck wouldn’t have recruited him.

As the spring approaches, so does the time when Cole and the other new werewolves will shift back to their human forms. Sam, who is now amazingly cured, is waiting for them, hoping that their transition will go well. Meanwhile, Grace is struggling with headaches and a hot temperature. Something is not quite right, which is most likely stemming from when she was bitten all those years ago. Why that should surface now, I don’t know, but I’m sure there is an explanation.

I’ve just got to the point now where Isabel and Cole meet. And let me just say, that this is starting to get really interesting. If their first meeting (where sparks literally fly) is any indication of the rest of the book, I’m guessing I might just devour this sequel, the way I never did with Shiver. Let’s hope so!

 


 

After finishing the book:

Well, I’ve finished it. And I’m sorry to say, just like with Shiver I felt it was lacking. I was momentarily gripped when Isabelle and Cole met, but as that relationship sort of fizzled out, my interest in the book did too.

Mostly my problem with Linger (as well as Shiver) is my inability to connect with the lead romantic couple Sam and Grace.  This is a very subjective thing I know. But given the fact that it doesn’t take much for me to swoon over romantic couples (Bella & Edward, Cabel & Janie, Jace & Clary, Valek & Yelena) to name a few, it is quite strange how when I read about Sam tossing and turning in bed because he misses Grace so much, my reaction is: yawn. Why is that?

It may be because I’m missing sparks and passion. I don’t for a minute doubt that they love each other very much, but it’s all so careful, quiet and lovey-dovey. Which, once again, some might like to read about, but I need something with a little more life in it. That’s why I loved the new addition of Cole, because he brought some life and sparks to the story, that previously only Isabelle had provided.

My other main reason for yawning my way through this book was the non-existent plot. Already in the first couple of pages, we get a hint of what is to happen to Grace. Yet it takes all of the 400 pages to get there. And in between? Not so much, really. Cole’s background story is told, and there is the friction between Grace’s parents and Sam. But other than that, it felt like I read about all the four of them basically going on about their life, doing mundane things like calling each other, turning a pillow in a bed, driving their car, looking at the wolves, pondering and questioning and worrying.

It helps of course that these mundane events are told in the words of Maggie Stiefvater, who can make a trip to the bathroom sound like poetry. She is extremely good with words, there is no denying that. Unfortunately though, no amount of beautifully phrased prose can save a non-existent plot (in my view).

I have to say though that the ending was quite spectacular. I loved how Cole stepped up to the plate when it really mattered (Cole’s my man!), and the whole explanation behind the werewolf curse was interesting as well.

Did those last 10 pages make up for the rest? Not really. But a good ending always leaves you intrigued, and so I may actually pick up the third installment Forever, to be released next summer.

Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

15 Dec

Series: Hush Hush, book #2

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

Details: Hardcover, 432 pages

Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

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

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

A few chapters in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

After finishing the book:

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

Instead, what did we get?

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

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

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

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

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

The Bottom Line:

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

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

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

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

Review: Absolution by Jennifer Laurens

14 Dec

Series: Heavenly, book #3

Published: October 1st 2010 by Grove Creek Publishing

Details: Paperback 220 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

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

A few chapters in:

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

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

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

All good? Ok, let’s read!!!

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

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

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

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

After finishing the book:

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

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

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

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

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

Beware of spoilers:

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

End of spoilers

The Bottom Line:

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

Review: Penitence by Jennifer Laurens

18 Nov

Series: Heavenly, book #2

Published: April 29th 2010 by Grove Creek Publishing

Details: Paperback, 322 pages

My Rating: 5/5

My Summary:

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

A few chapters in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

After finishing the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bottom line:

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

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