Category Archives: Paperback

Series Review (4-7): Morganville Vampires

AA Feast of Foolslord of misrule Feast of Fools (#4), Lord of Misrule (#5) by Rachel Caine

Genre: Young-Adult, Paranormal-Romance, Vampires

The Review *Mild Spoilers for the series*

Feast of Fools and Lord of Misrule are two solid additions to the Morganville Vampire series and continue on seamlessly from where Midnight Alley left off. In these two books we are introduced to the character of Bishop who brings with him a much more sinister air and certainly amps up the tension. These books follow again the journey of Claire largely and then obviously her housemates, Michael, Eve and of course Shane.

The characters certainly seemed to develop to a much greater extent in Feast of Fools and sides were drawn and there were quite a few twists and turns I did not expect in terms of character development. This is one of the reasons that I really appreciate Caine’s skills as an author because she always manages to introduce a new element to the character and following the same individuals throughout this series really gives a chance to develop strong character traits and personalities and build up a plethora of secondary characters.

Admittedly, I have come to the conclusion despite his crazy ways, the unpredictability and some of the more dangerous sides of his character, Myrnin without a doubt is my favourite and although Shane captures my heart as the love interest of these stories, there is just an element of Myrnin that has so much more. For those of you who have not read the series, I urge you to read it just for Myrnin, he is intelligent, scary, creepy, excitable, unpredictable and at times he manages to be genuinely caring. He is a vampire who is immersed in science and discovering and he is certainly self-centred and authoritative and always believes he knows best. He is almost certainly not a perfect character and for me that is what makes him so endearing and likeable, although I doubt he would like to be called either.

In terms of the plot across these two books, it ramps up in action and whilst elements were frustrating with the seeming chain of events from the previous books appearing to reoccur just in a slightly different format, with slightly different characters, the novels were still engaging in terms of plot.

Overall, even five books in, I find the Morganville vampires series as refreshing as ever!

Favourite Quotes

“Claire stretched out against the wall and kissed it. “Glad to see you, too,” she whispered, and pressed her cheek against the smooth surface. It almost felt like it hugged her back. “Dude, it’s a house,” Shane said from behind her. “Hug somebody who cares.”

“What about Myrnin?” Eve swallowed, almost choked, and Michael patted her kindly on the back. She beamed at him. “Myrnin? Oh yeah. He did a Batman and took off into the night. What is with that guy, Claire? If he was a superhero, he’d be Bipolar Man.”

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

carpe corpusfade out

Carpe Corpus (#6), Fade Out (#7) by Rachel Caine

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Young-Adult, Vampires

The Review *Mild Spoilers for the series*

Carpe Corpus and Fade Out move in a slightly different direction to the previous books in the Morganville series and I am finally happy to see some more Shane action in terms of romance. Up until this stage, things between Claire and Shane have been together but rather tip-toeing around their relationship because of age concerns, parents and general differences between their experiences in life. However I felt like we had actual progression and a solid foundation for future between the two of them, although there were moments when I thought Caine was going to frustrate me and ruin everything.

Morganville by this stage has seen some serious changes to the start of the series, and I really like the development in the world building that slowly unravels the history of the town and the reasoning’s behind its existence. It still manages to move forward at the same time and it is a really excellent balancing act from Caine.

Thirdly, there are a lot more plot lines brought into the series now and elements that we have had no idea about until now, and it really serves to draw all the aspects of the previous novels together. However in some regards I feel like Caine is brining in all these new plot lines to draw out the series a little more. Nevertheless, I do not feel like reading is a drag at all in reference to the Morganville series, but it is certainly a long series. Although since the final book has been published, this has encouraged me to return to the series and finally finish it all in one go (hopefully soon since I have recently taken a short break from reading it)..

Overall, I think the Morganville series is refreshing in terms of the paranormal-romance and paranormal genre, since the idea of a town where vampires are confined to, and the humans are given protection or are free for the vampires to have their way with. It is very unlike Twilight and The Vampire Diaries and lots of other popular vampire novels out there, and I really enjoyed this element of the Morganville series and I think despite having grown up from being the young teenager reading these books, I still manage to find a connection with these books to enjoy them. If you have not tried this series, I definitely recommend it!

Favourite Quotes

“If the lab was neater, so was Myrnin. He was still favouring old-timey clothes, so the coat was dark green velvet, flaring out and down to his knees. The ensemble also included a white shirt, bright blue vest, a pocket watch chain gleaming against the satin, tight black pants, and…

Claire found herself staring at his feet, which were in bunny slippers.

Myrning looked down. ‘What’? he asked, ‘They’re quite comfortable.’ He lifted one to look at it, and the ears wobbled in the air.”

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads (#4), (#5), (#6), (#7) ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 3.5 Books, 4.5 Books, Allison & Bushby, Paperback, Paranormal Romance, Rachel Caine, Vampires, Young Adult

Series Review (1-3): Morganville Vampires

Glass HouseThe Dead Girls' DanceMidnight Alley

Morganville Vampires Series by Rachel Caine

Glass House #1, The Dead Girls Dance #2, and The Midnight Alley #3

Genre: Young-Adult, Romance, Vampires

The Review

The Morganville Vampire series is one I picked up quite a while ago and read the first five books over a large period of time. Unfortunately since it was so long ago, I have seemingly forgot what happened and when I had a spur of the moment decision to return to the series I was largely lost, so I decided the best policy was to start from the beginning.

I have literally devoured these three books over a couple of days. They aren’t particularly long and they are fairly easy going on the prose, nothing too complex, but they draw you in and keep lots of action and fast-paced plots to engage with the audience. If you like flowery, emotional prose then these books certainly don’t offer any of that, but the simplicity is made up for in the engagement and continual plot twists and turns, and suspense that is continually built up.

Admittedly yes, there are a few ‘well duh’ moments where your expectations are met, but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment because there is always something a little unexpected and Caine doesn’t make the end result easily. Although she does like to leave things hanging, so I definitely recommend having all the books to just keep reading as once you finish one, you want to pick up the next.

The characters are honestly my favourite part. In ‘The Glass House’ we are introduced to Claire Danvers, our female protagonist who is a young, sweet sixteen year old and fairly innocent when she arrives in Morganville. However, she is intellectual, sassy and not afraid to fight by the end of things and in these three novels alone, she develops into a young woman who is not entirely fearless, but is stubborn, faithful and most of all she is a likeable character. Claire does rush into a few situations, she makes mistakes, but there are her own and she doesn’t allow herself to be bossed about my others, unless she can really help it. I mean nobody can really say no to a vampire thousands of years old, who might just kill you, right? Claire in my opinion, is a very strong, female protagonist who I hope to see develop more in the next few novels.

Now, the next three all offer something different. Eve, the spunky, goth girl who is loyal and feisty makes a dangerous enemy and she is easy to like and always helping Claire out when she really needs it. Michael the calm and collected one who acts as the responsible individual of the house has some interesting secrets, and issues which lead to exciting developments. He’s also a musician and the love of Eve’s life, so there is a little bit of romance to balance it out. Then finally there is the stereotypical man of the house/jock, Shane who rushes headlong into everything without thought, all in the aid of friendship and for the right moral reasons most of the time. He also happens to be the love interest for Claire. It’s kind of a little cliché and not always an easy path but I do love the pair of them together. I think they work really well.

Make no mistake however, there is no typical vampire series formula in this series so far  which is usually; girl + vampire boy = fall in love for the main plot theme. In fact, a lot of the plot focus is on the town and the four individuals who live in the Glass House and their survival. There is a strong theme of friendship, loyalty and life moral values that makes for some tough decisions, but also some entertaining insightful and joyful moments.

The villains in this novel range from typical high school/college girl who is the airbrushed glamour puss and daddy’s little girl who rules the town, to skulking boys in shadows with knives and mysterious motives and finally the wicked vampires with fangs who rule the town and expect the humans to fall in line. I love the concept of the vampire town and the idea of humans being potential property to the vampires, who sometimes act as protectors of the humans. However there are specific guidelines to this protection which are always changing and the vampires and human interactions run across very unsteady paths!

Overall, ‘The Glass House’, ‘The Dead Girls’ Dance’ and ‘Midnight Alley’ are an engaging start to the Morganville Vampire series that give you only a taste of things to come and certainly draw you in wanting many answers. There are numerous plot lines twisting through all the stories that continue throughout the series. This means the multiple lines that thread through the novels gives depths to series and enables the characters to be fleshed out and given personal identities that blossom and force you to become engaged with them. I most definitely recommend the Morganville Vampire series for vampire/supernatural lovers and even those who are quite a big fan I suggest giving the books a chance!

 

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars 

Goodreads (1), (2), (3) ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under Allison & Bushby, Paperback, Rachel Caine, Romance, Vampires, Young Adult

Reviews from the Realm of Magic

Magic StudyFire Study

Magic Study and Fire Study  by Maria V. Snyder

Series: Study #2 & #3

Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Young-Adult

Published: October 1st 2006 and January 16th 2009 by Mira Books

*mild spoilers for book one, Poison Study.

A Brief Summary of the Magic Stories

Once upon a time, lived a girl named Yelena Zaltana. Well… actually you might just know her as Yelena and she found out that she had magic, so she must flee her home and the one she loved.

She went on a journey of self-discovery battling the villains and other magicians that tried to stop her whilst she developed her magic and grew as a person. She made some new friends, kept some old friends, made some enemies. She also met her family and began to develop her past identity whilst trying to balance the old and the new in her life of magic and non-magic worlds.

During all this, her fabulous man-candy appeared in her life at frequent intervals to seduce her and spice up the story with some swoony romance. Through all of this she found a trusty steed that called her Lavender Lady and made the story oodles of fun.

There were lots of twists and turns, fun and emotional moments that brought a little tear to the eye. The stories kept you turning the pages with the multiple plots and tonnes of action.

Finally, Yelena realizes she is super-awesome all on her own, but she does need the help, support and guidance of others and she becomes less frustrating so you don’t want to bash her head against the wall and we get an interesting happily ever after.

The Review

Magic Study and Fire Study retained lots of the fun and enjoyable elements that made me fall head over heels in love with Poison Study and I think they make a good series together. I’m breaking it down into some elements to summarise the progression of specific elements.

Yelena

Yelena was a character that wormed her way easily into my heart in Poison Study and she still retained the fire and tenacity that she held when we first met her. However I feel that at times she was a little head-strong and that she just threw herself into things which annoyed me, but that was her character and you had to appreciate her stubbornness and loyalty. She was still the smart and defiant Yelena who fought for what she believed in.

Although I did feel that at a couple of moments she wasn’t quite as witty as she had been previously and smart. She seemed like she’d lost a few brain cells when she didn’t get everything that was going off, but in her defence she was being dragged all over the place to make things exciting so she couldn’t do everything.

Valek

Is it quite manageable to fall in love with this man even more? Something about him with his secret allure and charm that slipped and slide through these two stories as more elusive got me all excited about Valek’s character. My only problem was we didn’t see nearly enough of him and I don’t think as an individual character we saw enough of his personality. He seemed to become Yelena’s love interest rather than an individual that we had gotten to know in the previous novel.

Although Snyder did give me a scare when I briefly thought Valek would be replaced as love interest for another. However fear nor, no love triangle develops nor does Valek disappear. He is very much around for the cute, swoony moments that maintains the magic for their relationship throughout both books!

Two steps and I was wrapped in his arms.

“That’s the best welcome I’ve had all day.”

World Building

I think it’s safe to say that Snyder immerses you in the world of magic and magicians along with the clans whether they were Zaltana or Sandseed or one of the many others. She delves into the politics of Ixia and Sitia and the tensions between the two.

We learn to understand the history of magic, not nearly enough for my own thirst for knowledge, but enough that you really start to understand the dynamics of the world.

Fantasy is a genre that really depends upon believing the world and understanding it, and I could picture every grain of strand, every jungle vine that Snyder depicted and this made the journey so much more enjoyable.

The Secondary Characters

Wow. Snyder excelled on all fronts here. This is what totally sells me her novels. Not only do we draw in everyone we met in the first novel, but in these two we meet a whole new cast of characters. She really built up a world of characters and individuals that moulded so many different elements to this story from the magicians to simple street beggar children who become friends of Yelena or the soldiers.

Snyder also managed to build up Yelena’s family and we developed some real relationships of her past that we hadn’t seen before. Things were certainly rocky and full of ups and downs, but I think that reflects a true family dynamic and how nothing is smooth and perfect. Her brother, Leif was certainly an interesting character of multi-dimensions and I had lots of changing emotions which I really liked.

Lief pretended to be shocked. “But our fearless leader. You have it all planned out. Right?”

I shrugged. “I’m going to take a long hot bath. How’s that?”

Overall, everybody in this novel had a story and a time to shine in the plot and I really liked how Snyder managed to interweave them all. If you like secondary characters, Snyder really excels here!

Ari and Janco

Ari and Janco are still present as my two favourite characters from Poison Study with their camaraderie. I’m sooo glad to see that Snyder brought this two back to be present in both books because I don’t think it would be quite the same without them. They brought humour to the books that could lighten up the more intense and action filled moments to just draw you back down to earth.

“Janco,” Ari warned. “We’re not supposed to be fraternising with the Sitians.”

“But she’s not Sitian. Right, Yelena? You haven’t gone south on us, have you?” Janco’s voice held mock horror.

Moon Man

He brought lots of cryptic wisdom, fun, adventure and emotional moments. Moon Man reminded me a lot of Finnick from The Hunger Games who weaselled his way into my heart entirely too easy as well. He had an aura about him that was hard not to like and from the moment of his first introductions, despite lots of ambiguous characters to whether they were truly good or not, the vibe from him was full of fun and mystery.

Not only that but he helped Yelena and strengthened her character growth and I liked how Snyder used him to do that as well as interlinking the clans and the plot lines that really helped the two novels to flourish.

I studied his colored skin. “Why indigo?”

A slow grin spread over his lips. “A cooling color to help soothe the fire between you and your brother.”

Then, a sheepish look. “It is my favourite.”

Kiki

Kiki is Yelena’s horse. This sounds entirely bizarre, but I think animals if used well are increasingly fantastic characters that authors can make use of. Buckbeak, Nero, Burru to name a few. She has intelligence and insight that the characters don’t and I liked her ability to rebuke Yelena when others couldn’t.

I also loved her nicknames for everybody which represented their identity of personality really by the smell and I think in most cases they fitted really well.

Yes. I’m sorry to take you out on such a horrible day, I said.

Not bad with Lavender Lady. Lavender Lady was the name the horses had given me. They named the people around them just like we would name a pet.

Villains

I’m never really sure how you can assess a villain. In terms of evilness, cruelty, ingenuity. They tend to be slippery characters that are hard to define and Magic Study and Fire Study are filled galore with them. Snyder gets a real mix of rather irrelevant villains that you can skip without much consequence and real two-faced characters and mysterious enemies that creates lots of plot twists and excitements in her novel.

I think the balance of villains done bad and villains done good makes the two novels work really well. I felt the villain in Magic Study was a lot stronger, the plot unravelled more in Fire Study to undermine it and make it a little more predictable in an element that I just knew it had to be that from the start. However, I don’t think it’s entirely obvious, but Snyder drops some fairly big hints throughout the novel looking back that makes it hard for you to ignore.

Overall, she creates some wicked villains and lots of bombshells with characters chopping and changing sides to show that human nature really isn’t set straight.

Favourite Moment

Undoubtedly Snyder packs the novels full of adventure and action which makes it so easy to like them when you can constantly turn a page and find something new happening. I find that I prefer novels with lots of action that transport me to an entire new world rather than something slow and thought-provoking. However one of my favourite moments from the two books was more humorous moments that captures Snyder’s sense of humour that appealed to much to me.

I spotted my mother’s green cloak near the top. I called to Perl, telling her I was fine. “You can come down now,” I said.

“Yelena! Thank fate! come up here where it’s safe,” she said.

Overall

Honestly, I thought these two held great strengths that made them enjoyable, but they didn’t shine as much as the original book, Poison Study. I felt that Magic Study held the edge over Fire Study too and that this series weakened a little by the end. I just felt Fire Study was a little more predictable and rushed than the other two. Still, that does not take away that I would happily label this as one of my favourite fantasy series and recommend it to everybody out there because there is something a little special about Yelena Zaltana and this series. I  cannot wait to get my hands on more Snyder books as she’s undoubtedly one of my favourite authors now!

Magic Study: ~ 4 / 5 Books ~

Fire Study: ~ 3.5 / 5 Books ~

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Filed under 2006 Publication, 2009 Publication, 3.5 Books, 4 Books, Fantasy, Magic, Maria V. Snyder, Mira Books, Paperback, Romance, Young Adult

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy by Margaret George

Genre: Historical-fiction, Romance, Adult, DNF

Published: 2007 by Pan Publishing

The Plot

Daughter of a god, wife of a king, prize of antiquitys bloodiest war, Helen of Troy has inspired artists for millennia. Now Margaret George, the highly acclaimed bestselling historical novelist, has turned her intelligent, perceptive eye to the myth that is Helen of Troy.

Margaret George breathes new life into the great Homeric tale by having Helen narrate her own story. Through her eyes and in her voice, we experience the young Helens discovery of her divine origin and her terrifying beauty. While hardly more than a girl, Helen married the remote Spartan king Menelaus and bore him a daughter. By the age of twenty, the worlds most beautiful woman was resigned to a passionless marriage until she encountered the handsome Trojan prince Paris. And once the lovers flee to Troy, war, murder, and tragedy become inevitable.

In Helen of Troy, Margaret George has captured a timeless legend in a mesmerizing tale of a woman whose life was destined to create strife and destroy civilizations.

The Review

Before we begin you may have noted I marked this book at DNF, but it stands at a crazy 700 pages and I have yet to finish such an epically long book. I am cursed, cursed I tell you. So I was trying to break it with this book and I made it past 400 pages. Unfortunately, Christmas, exams and lots of other things got in the way and I ran out of steam as well as renewal times for a library loaned book. So I can’t tell you whether I didn’t finish this one because I didn’t enjoy it because I did or if I’m lazy with big books or I just seem to have this fear of their sheer size and I cannot fathom how to finish such a book. Still, I must say Helen of Troy is not a book to dismiss just because I did not finish it.

Honestly, I don’t read that much historical-fiction for an avid history lover. I soak up all the facts and the figures and just revel in the world of the past, but I’m always a little wary of historical fiction and I just couldn’t tell you why… Maybe because I fear it will not capture the world or I just won’t get honest facts. However, Helen of Troy is about a world that may or may not have existed.  It’s about a woman who has been part of Greek legends for centuries and who is the claimed daughter of a God. So much of this ‘historical-fiction’ relies on Fantasy. There is evidence today that the sight of Troy that can be found in northwest Turkey in a place called Anatolia. Still, this is not certified exactly, which is what makes this story so fascinating and gives George a huge artistic license.

I enjoyed how George slowly drew us into the world of Greece and Sparta and Troy. I loved how she revealed the characters slowly and built upon them giving them fleshed out foundations and characteristics that made them real. I adored how the developed and changed over the storyline and they evoked anger and sadness and frustration in me. Truly, the characters of Helen and Menelaus particularly came to life. Honestly I felt like Paris is a naive, silly boy who is too weak to truly fight and understand the world and this is where I began to abhor Helen for her decisions.

I am sure you all know the story of Helen of Troy in how she ran away with Paris, the Trojan prince which led to the Spartans waging war on her. George takes lots of time to unravel the story in Sparta and Helen as a child and uncovering her true heritage. I liked this touch and the links we got to her father and Zeus because they really added to the tale. I even enjoyed the journey over to Troy. Nevertheless this story had to fall flat somewhere, it is when we reach Troy and she seems to be searching for time to fill the space. I never reached the huge, colossal battle that destroys a civilization, the great Achilles and all over a woman. NEVER did I reach that in OVER 400 pages. George didn’t leave us action less, but I felt like it was dragging too much to actually reach the battle which is where my interest lost.

In some ways I wish I had preserved because I feel the battle would have again stole my attention because George wrote in a fabulous detail that managed to encapsulate every essence of Ancient Greece but stopped before you became lost in every tiny detail.

Helen of Troy is far from being a bad book, I think George takes an inventive, new approach to the tale of the famed Helen of Troy who know felt like a real person and not some absolutely stunning woman on a pedestal that has been famed. She had thoughts and feelings and she wasn’t entirely stupid. I liked Helen for most of the story until she ran off for Troy. For that, I find it hard to forgive her. However George creates a story that gives a reason and adds flavour to the previously rather vague story of Helen of Troy. I think that if George had cut the story 200, even 100 pages shorter she would have managed to keep the story with a much tighter narrative and not lost us in the mundanely-ness and politics of Troy that first occur when Helen enters which I felt too much time was spent on.

So, despite not finishing Helen of Troy for those mythology lovers and those much more ready and with much more spare time ready to take on a 700 page novel, I utterly recommend Helen of Troy. For those, like me, cursed never to finish such a long book, I’d say maybe try an audio of this book or just skip it and wallow in annoyance that you cannot finish a darn book beyond 600 pages.

~ 2.5 / 5 Books ~

Nerd Fact

The Trojan War is depicted in the Iliad written by Homer which was written quite a while after the events and is unknown whether to be truthful or largely fiction.

Heinrich Schliemann is the German man who claimed his fame in finding Troy, but in actual fact the city remains he uncovered were not Troy and whilst the place in Anatolia, Turkey, is where the city is. It was actual several layers of earth below this in which more city remains were found which are now believed to be Troy.

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Filed under 2.5 Books, 2007 Publication, Adult, DNF, Historical Fiction, Margaret George, Pan Publishing, Paperback, Romance

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road by Moria Young

Series: Dust Lands #1

Genre: Dystopia, Young-Adult, Romance

Published: June 2nd 2011 by Scholastic

The Plot.

“I ain’t afeared of nuthin.”

When Saba’s brother is stolen, red rage fills her soul.

She races across the cruel dustlands to find him.

Saba can trust no one. Even the boy who saves her life.

She must silence her heart to survive.

Blood will spill.

The Review.

Blood Red Road is a novel I have seen everywhere! It seems to just keep popping up in the world of YA books and blogging alike and when I saw a copy in my library I just knew I had to get my hands on it. It didn’t disappoint me, although it was entirely not what I expected. I’m not sure what I thought would happen going into the novel but it blew me away on a whirlwind of different, rather brutal scenes that kept a fast-paced, emotional and exciting plot. It touched on friendship, family, trust and a destruction in the world that is the undertone for most dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels.

Firstly I’m going to start with the most distinctive part of Blood Red Road and that being the writing style. I have read a few reviews that rant about grammatical correctness and the language being hard to get into and unreadable, but frankly I adored it. Now I realise it won’t be for everyone, but I immediately fell into the character and style of Saba and it only enabled me to connect so much more to her as a character. I found that it distinguished the novel into a unique light that makes it different from other dystopia novels of its age and I like Young’s daring to step outside the boundaries of grammatically correct fiction because whilst I always appreciate a well-written novel, Blood Red Road brought with it rough edges that really reflected the brutality of the world. Another element to why I enjoyed the language so much is because it reminded me of something rather archaic and old world that I loved. The interesting concept to wrap your mind around is the lack of differentiation between speech and Saba’s thoughts, but it quickly becomes easy to pick up and fall into reading.

It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.”

Young brings you in rather steadily I felt to this language style because the further the novel develops, the more Saba seems to slip into the “yer” and “kinda” that truly encapsulate her character. Moving on to Saba’s character she annoyed the hell out of me, she was stubborn, ungrateful and refused to believe she could be wrong, but in a way she reminded me of myself in the fact that I can’t be wrong and I think that’s what made her relatable; her faults. I don’t want to read about a perfect character and she certainly wasn’t, but she developed with her band of friends and family that she acquired (the friends, not the family) over the novel and seeing her character change before you eyes, especially when the novel was narrated through her eyes was really enlightening. I also liked that she was tough and feisty because she wasn’t prepared to let other people fight her battles and whilst this at times could be a flaw to her desire to conquer the world on her own, I did love her for it. Saba has to be one of my favourite heroines because she was smart, feisty, full of faults, but at the heart of her she cared and that was what pushed her forward.

My choice of next character is a crow, Nero. Not just any crow. I have never quite found myself enamoured with a crow and when I see them flying and swooping about their send shivers down my spine with their circling and caws. However Nero was a crow that crept into my heart in his smart behaviour and his loyalty to Saba. The dynamic of their relationship was interesting and I never thought Young would be able to develop a crow in such a manner that he could be almost like a person. He is an integral part to the novel and as such, he appears on the cover I have. I rather like the simplicity and effectiveness of this cover with the stark black of Nero and the red blood splatter that covers the words with the road in yellow to symbolise the dustlands. It’s incredibly effective in portraying the novel.

The next character I’m going to look at is Jack… It took me a while to get my head around this boy and like Saba I was wary. I felt at every moment he was going to break my heart in some way and he was exceedingly complicated. And the fact that I didn’t like his character to start with, or how he treated Saba. I thought he was unfair and he behaved in a way that he had no right to, but then when you really looked, he helped her and I liked that my opinion of him changed by the end of the novel. I could appreciate him as a sexy love interest and a brooding hero, but he didn’t capture my heart. I followed the rather torturous romance between these two and watched it break my heart and I wanted to shake them both, but I didn’t feel invested in loving Jack like I have done with so many previous love interests. There was just something about his character that didn’t settle with me.

“Jack’s voice comes from behind me, makes me jump.

He ain’t got a chance when you smile at him like that.

I turn around. He’s closer’n I thought. My stupid heart skips a beat. He leans against the wall with his hands in his pockets.

The plethora of secondary characters really build to the novel and develop Saba as a character because of her multiple settings she picks up new people along the way. Across all of this, I like how Young builds up the character basis gradually and she doesn’t bombard us with them all at the start. In fact we start with very few characters with Lugh, Emmi, Saba and their father. By the end we have many, many characters we have met from Proctor John, Mercy, Ash, Epona, Helen, Mrs Pinch, Ike, Tommo, DeMalo and just keeps on going and I loved the layers that Young added to the novel with all these characters. And she doesn’t leave us without a little bit of heartbreak, so I warn you, tissues may be needed because indeed Blood Red Road is plenty bloody!

The biggest problem I probably have with Blood Red Road is the lack of knowledge about the world. Why is it in this state? What happened? Why is everything dustlands? Why is the mystery? Since this is only the first novel in what I believe to be a trilogy, I hope Young will go on to answer my questions that give actual depth to the setting of Blood Red Road. However, I think for a first novel she has sufficiently  set the environment and has got me hooked enough that I am dying to get my hands on the next book in the series!

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and found that I’ll be eager to get my hands on a copy. I’ll be interested to see more of Lugh, the twin brother that Saba definitely placed on a pedestal in this novel because obviously he occurred very little in this one and I’ll be looking out for the development between Saba and Jack. I think Young has a fantastic idea going and I’m excited to read more from her in her unique style and bravery to not shy away from brutality of the world.

4 books

Extra Nerdy

Moria Young originally developed Blood Red Road when thinking about climate change, the limited resources of our environment and the change in human civilizations. She planned to set the world in an ice district and still in the future, however the only remains of that novel are the futuristic setting and the names, Saba, Lugh and Emmi so we can certainly see she’s come an awful long way! And one of her biggest influences being one of my favourite musical films, The Wizard of Oz. How awesome?! More information about the origins can be found here.

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Filed under 2011 Publication, 4 Books, Dystopia, Moira Young, Paperback, Romance, Scholastic, Young Adult

Play of Passion

Play of Passion

Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

Series: Psy-Changeling Series #9

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Adult, Wereshifters

Publication: November 2nd 2010 by Berkley

The Plot.

In his position as tracker for the SnowDancer pack, it’s up to Drew Kincaid to rein in rogue changelings who have lost control of their animal halves- even if it means killing those who have gone too far. But nothing in his life has prepared him for the battle he must now wage to win the heart of a woman who makes his body ignite… and who threatens to enslave his wolf.

Lieutenant Indigo Riviere doesn’t easily allow skin privileges, especially of the sensual kind- and the last person she expects to find herself craving is the most wickedly playful male in the den. Everything she knows tells her to pull back before the flames burn them both to ash… but she hasn’t counted on Drew’s will.

Now, two of SnowDancer’s most stubborn wolves find themselves playing a hot, sexy game even as lethal danger stalks the very place they call home.

The Review.

Play of Passion firmly reasserts my love for Nalini Singh. I found in the last two novels of the Psy-Changeling series that Singh had been lacking a little, but everything is hanging my a thread and the world around the characters is really starting to change. Lots of political alliances are being formed, underground movements and on the surface the tensions and strained and hostility is high between the characters. This firmly entrenches me in the Singh camp of love with Play of Passion. Singh manages to excel not only on the world and political elements and war undertones, but her characters in this blossomed, challenged and set the world on fire. Play of Passion may not have been perfect, but I am incredibly excited about what Singh has in store.

Indigo River is a character I haven’t really recalled all that much from previous novels which is probably not a good thing, but I liked that she was a strong, independent woman. She’s the only lieutenant that’s female of her pack and she doesn’t allow anybody to boss her about. Despite her dominant position in the pack hierarchy she still has emotions and vulnerabilities that Singh really played up for her character. This makes her seem more human and I liked how things crept up on Indigo suddenly and then she realised what she actually needed in her life. I liked that she wasn’t afraid of anybody and that she really fought for what she needed. I hope to see more of her family in future novels because they still felt on the fringe of the story whilst Indigo was being drawn further into the thick of things.

She wasn’t an acquisitive person, but neither was she dead. Blinking open her eyes at last, she couldn’t resists taking a slow tour of his body as he knelt to get something from the pocket of his discarded jeans. Muscled shoulders in shadow, a back so beautiful it cried out to be stroked…and boxers. Plain black and—“Silk boxer while we’re camping?”

Drew… Andrew. Where do I begin? He is sweet, charming, fun and friendly. He genuinely cares about his pack and Indigo. He’s also smart, sensitive, tenacious, stubborn and annoying. Still, I have to say, I loved everything about Drew. He’s not without faults, but that makes him loveable. He sticks his foot in it more than once with Indigo and watching them work things out entertained me greatly. I find that many characters like Drew are ones that I just don’t get, they appear all too good and have every reason to like them, and I usually don’t, which is why I was so happy to like Drew. I think it was his mischievous side that endeared him to me and his nickname of “Indy” for Indigo. I could just feel the affection coming from him and how he cared about every member of his pack particularly the younger ones, like Sienna, she’s a troubled character but he really cares for her and my favourite quote below is him looking out for her. Drew is definitely one of my favourite male protagonists.

That’s all I get after I sent you a whole box of premium chocolate-cherry cookies?” he said, feigning extreme disappointment. “Just ‘good’?”

Furrows appeared between her brows, dark little lines that marred the beauty of her sun-dipped skin. “Drew.”

But when he grinned and took her into his arms, she not only allowed the affection, she slid her own arms around him. It had taken him months of patient care to get her to trust him with her body in that way.”

This instalment does focus quite distinctly on the romance, but the interludes of the outside world with the council, the problems in the pack and the other sub-plots that are running on managed to round the novel and keep the overall under-plot that runs through all the novels moving forward to a point where we are at a edge about to fall into the abyss I fear in the novel which is exciting and certainly makes me want to pick up the next novel in the series. I shall be off to request it from my library ASAP I shall inform you. The romance doesn’t entirely dominant the plot-line, but there was a lack of political intent and movements we’ve seen in some of the other novels which I always like. However I was just in the mood for something light and fun that kept things moving and entertained.

The Psy-Changeling series manages to deal with serious issues and lighten them up all in the same novel with the balance of romance and political movement. I’d say that you keep going with the Psy-Changeling novel because it gets better as it goes along with a few hit and misses here and there, overall I have great love for the series and would recommend them to anybody who has some spare time since there are currently 11 novels out and more in the works. The first novel, Slave to Sensation kicks off the series and I say it only gets better from there onwards. If you like werewolf/wereshifter books this is definitely for you, if you like paranormal it’s definitely for you and even if not, I suggest taking a dabble!

4 books


Nerd Fact: For those of you more curious about everything that’s nerdy behind the Psy-Changeling series, Singh has a brilliant section on her website called, Behind the Scenes where she talks about facts on the human brain, big cats and purring and much, much more! You can find it HERE.

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Filed under 2010 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Berkley, Nalini Singh, Paperback, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Paranormal Romance, Wereshifters

Rebecca

Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Genre: Gothic, Classics, Romance

Published: January 30th 2003 by Virago Press Ltd

The Plot

With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim’s first wife the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.

My Review

Rebecca is a novel that haunts you long after you’ve set it aside. It wriggles its way into your brain and has you recounting every event to try and define the very moment that such extraordinary events took a turning because it blindsided me. I found myself unable to pinpoint within the novel a point of elusion to such events and it was utterly fantastic. To be so shocked by the novel really shows Maurier to have a craft. We recount the naive footsteps of the new Mrs de Winters as she recalls her youth and innocence at becoming Maxim’s second husband and the events that conspire to amount against her and test her very strength.

The way in which Maurier delivers the novel means we very much see the world through Mrs de Winters eyes and her utter ignorance at the world is enlightening because we learn with her as she begins to stand on her own feet and discover the world. She’s so childlike and desperate to learn and please and it’s rather endearing at first because there is this drive in her to succeed and she just continues to stumble. She appears to be rather a weak and sappy character and whilst some protagonists fail to make any development, Maurier completely diverts her character into somebody who has been forced rather brutally to grow up in only a few moments. From the feeling of drowning and not being able to survive she is once again thrown into a colossally damned situation and manages to recover herself that makes her character truly courageous and strong by the end of things.

“I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end.”

Rebecca is definitely a novel that touches on appearances to be deceiving because not only does it appear to fit into so many genres from mystery, to romance to the Gothic, it is most certainly a hybrid of genres, the plot and the characters change beyond belief throughout the novel and Maurier teases us with little glimpses of a truth and a dark side, to slowly unveil the truth of Rebecca. After all, the novel at first sight appears to be about a woman Rebecca who is indeed present, but only in the ethereal sense because she haunts the characters lives and manipulates their emotions even whilst dead. This makes the novel so distinctly Gothic in the effect that ricochets across all their lives from a dead woman. It’s so unnerving to think the presence of a dead woman could unsettle a house so much and this makes Maurier’s Rebecca so infinitely gripping that you are kept on tenterhooks as you turn each page waiting for the new bombshell to fall and to twist the story again.

There are some critics who dismiss Maurier’s Rebecca as merely a “Gothic Romance” but honestly the romance is focused on very little as a romance. There is a focus on the relationship and the dynamic of this relationship and to how events impact upon their lives. The tensions between the Winters and the strain that Rebecca the dead women, haunting the house who continues to drive the couple further and further apart without even trying and it makes for an engaging and thrilling read. Rebecca touches every aspect of their lives and I found it so utterly intriguing to watch the romance that seemed so perfect if not rather awkward at the beginning begin to crumble because of doubts and misgivings that unravel by the end of the plot and change a whole spin on my previous perspective.

“Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me.”
“Do you mean you want a secretary or something?”
“No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”

Maxim is a man that baffled me from the very moment the novel began until the very end. I had a very turbulent relationship with his character because his mood swings were rather violent. He could appear loveable and doting and the next he was a brooding angry mess. His character was so wrapped up and secretive that I could never truly fathom him, but I think this was partly the nature of the narrative that makes Rebecca so utterly engaging because we see the world through Mrs de Winter’s eyes and she never truly understood Maxim. There always appeared to be a rift between them and whilst I never disliked his character and he appeared strong and dashing and everything a love interest should be, I found I could never truly like his character either. It is not that I felt indifferent to him, I just can’t place whether I could place him directly in one camp of emotions because he was so diverse and changing. He never settled because he was in this constant state of agitation and this reflects into Maurier’s protagonist, Mrs de Winters and that keeps the pace of the novel forever pushing forward when it seems as though we are about to drag.

The most fascinating element of the tale is Rebecca and how she was reflected her in her hut, the decor of Manderley, the ball every element of Manderley could be seen by Mrs de Winters as reflecting Rebecca. She was constantly present and this is what made Maurier’s recount of a dead woman so effective.

Then there was the cold, hard and rather sad Mrs Danvers. Its safe to say I abhorred the woman, but equally I felt deep sympathy for her sad attachment to Rebecca who seemed to be her very reason for life. She made a fantastic villain and it is very often that we see somebody so dark and seedy becoming a villain or terrifying and monstrous like Frankenstein’s monster in the Gothic. However Mrs Danvers appears to be a women driven mindless by devotion to Rebecca which drives every action of hers and leaves pour Mrs de Winters terrified. Ultimately though, I found that Mrs Danvers is a woman I could not like under any circumstance because however she appeared to be motivated by love, her actions filled the book with hate and rage that made her an unsightly character.

I simply adored the setting of Manderley it was so encompassing and suffocating in its stature and reputation. The idea of the old house that was so poignant and Gothic. I could so clearly image this dark, almost brooding house in my imagination with the vivid red flowers that cloaked the side of the house. It only adds to Maurier imbedding symbolism everywhere in Rebecca and the little connections and misgivings and feelings that you got when reading it, all added up to making it a wonderful experience.

Classics have not been a genre I’ve ventured far into, but with Rebecca I found a new door and a new avenue in which I genuinely found a magical experience in that wasn’t clustered with archaic language that took hours to unravel, but the complexity of the plot made up for the simplicity of the writing style (in comparison to something as Austen) and that made it all the more enlightening that I found nothing to be the same in Rebecca. For me, Rebecca can never just be a “Gothic Romance” because it is so much more and undeniably one of those tales that shall sit with you long after reading. It is a novel I am desperate to get on my shelves and whilst the ending isn’t entirely fulfilling in its rather tragic way that leaves one pondering what can really come, particularly from whence we came in a place not known, it is one that I would love to read again and a novel that I recommend without a doubt to each and every one of you!

We’re not meant for happiness, you and I.”

4 books

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Filed under 2003 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Classic, Daphne Du Maurier, Gothic, Paperback, Romance, Virago Press Ltd

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (GR)

Genre: Fantasy, Gothic, Horror

Published: January 1st 1990 by Penguin Books

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

My Review:

Firstly, I don’t usually do lots of short stories or anthologies of any kind, but I had to read this one for school and surprise me it did. I enjoyed it immensely with its dark, twisted take on the fairy tales meaning Carter makes something very unique.

The collection is made up of The Bloody Chamber, The Courtship of Mr Lyon, The Tiger’s Bride, Puss-In-Boots, The Erl-King, The Snow Child, The Lady of The House of Love, The Werewolf, The Company of Wolves and Wolf-Alice.

One thing to be highly aware of throughout all the short stories is that they are highly explicit on sexual and violent terms.

Here are a selection of short reviews for a few of the short stories within.

The Bloody Chamber

‘The Bloody Chamber’ was probably my least favourite of the short stories that make up Carter’s short stories even though it’s the title and the first one. It’s a modern retelling of Bluebeard which I honestly didn’t know anything about before picking up ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is interesting to say the least.

However I found its protagonist weak and naive and very much deluded and she frustrated me. She depended upon other people to save her and whilst this is all part of the meanings behind ‘The Bloody Chamber’ I wanted to throw something at the girl.

“Then, slowly yet teasingly, as if he were giving a child a great, mysterious treat,”

The plot is engaging and I found it slightly disturbing but all the little foreshadowing moments and twists and turns kept the pace moving.

The Marquis is a despicable man and he’s truly wicked. He’s the embodiment of a villain and a cradle snatcher. There is nothing to like about the man and he’s probably the main reason I didn’t appreciate ‘The Bloody Chamber’ as a short story.

“He was older than I. He was much older than I; there were streaks of pure silver in his dark mane. But his strange, heavy, almost waxen face was not lined by experience.”

The Tiger’s Bride

Without a doubt, this was my favourite story of the selections. This is an adaption of Beauty and the Beast and the better of the two that Carter attempted. The other one, The Courtship of Mr Lyon wasn’t nearly as engaging.

Carter looks at a Beast as a Lord and whether he’s human or animal and I found this really interesting and the whole dynamic of his character was exciting. It was added to by his servant who is supposed to be an animal too that I didn’t quite pick up on in my first reading and this contrast between humans and animals is interesting.

“And then he moved; he buried his cardboard carnival head with its ribboned weight of false hair in, I would say, his arms; he withdrew his, I might say hands from his sleeves and I saw his furred pads, his excoriating claws.”

I liked Belle as a character. She wasn’t very strong to start with, but she built herself up as a character and she was pretty smart. I liked her ability to think on her feet and move with the direction of the novel rather than oppose it.

Puss-in-Boots

‘Puss-in-Boots’ probably doesn’t require a genius to figure out what it’s a retelling off. I found this one to be more humorous and entertaining than Carter’s other additions to the stories because it wasn’t quite as dark and twisted and it made a refreshing addition to the collection with something a little different.

Puss was quite the enigmatic character and I took a shinning to him immediately. He was clever and oozing charm, especially around the lady felines, but that only added to his character to make him entertaining.

“So Puss got his post at the same time as his boots and I dare say the Master and I have much in common for he’s proud as the devil, touchy as tin-tacks, lecherous as liquorice and, though I say it as loves him, as quick-witted a rascal as ever put on clean linen.”

Overall, I really enjoyed ‘Puss-in-Boots’ more for Puss as a character than his master who was a little foolish and blinded by love, but the extravagance of that made it all the more amusing.

The Company of Wolves

This makes for an interesting read as a modern adaption to Little Red Riding Hood because this Little Red Riding Hood is incredibly far from the version I remember as a child so it may very well change your opinion entirely on Little Red Riding Hood, be warned!

Carter gathers together lots of mythology about wolves and tales and uses them as a warning from the Grandmother who is an old crone. I didn’t like her one bit and I was glad we got her out of the way. That sounds really mean, but she isn’t a character you can like.

“There is no winter’s night the cottager does not fear to see a lean, grey, famished snout questing under the door, and there was a woman once bitten in her own kitchen as she was straining the macaroni.”

Little Red Riding Hood isn’t silly or naive, but she uses her brain and other parts of herself to get what she wants and to secure her safety and you can clearly see the wave of feminism that Carter was writing through coming out in ‘The Company of Wolves’ in embracing freedom and sexuality and it’s something I quite liked.

I liked the werewolf aspect to ‘The Company of Wolves’ and all the elements of wolves and magic. The film however is rather dire, they use great big Alsatians and German Shepards to play wolves so it doesn’t quite reflect the wolves as it could and things change a little, so if you’ve seen the film which is humorous for how bad it is, then do read the short story because it’s so much better!

Do be aware that Carter likes to take things overboard and it makes for an interesting read to say the least!

“She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity. She is an unbroken egg; she is a sealed vessel; she has inside her a magic space the entrance to which is shut tight with a plug of membrane; she is a closed system; she does not know how to shiver. She has her knife and she is afraid of nothing.”

Be warned, stepping into the world of Carter is entering a completely different realm! So beware.

4 books

*

Nerd Fact

Angela Carter is a feminist, who married twice and ran away to Japan after he first marriage. She was working on a sequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre at the time of of her death that focused on the life of Jane’s stepdaughter, but only a synopsis survives.

Extra Nerdy

The song that I think summarises these short stories most of all is Animal by Neon Trees. It’s actually one of my favourites.

*

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Filed under 1990 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Angela Carter, Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Paperback, Penguin Books

Poison Study

Poison Study

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young-Adult

Series: Study #1

Publication: March 1st 2007 by Mira Books

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

My Review:

This is what good fantasy should be and this is clearly why I adore the fantasy genre. A quick witted, tenacious and determined heroine and an undeniably exciting, engaging and intricate plot. I think the only thing that could have made this novel better is for it to have been an adult book rather than young-adult. I felt that the market Snyder was aiming this book at slipped from being an adult into being a young-adult only in the relationship of Yelena and Valek. Despite this, I still fell in love with this book.

“He probably held a couple of poisons in reserve just in case he decided to replace the taster. Glancing over my shoulder, I imagined Valek coming into the kitchen to poison my breakfast. I couldn’t even enjoy talking with a chatty cook without being reminded that tasting potentially poisoned food wasn’t the only danger of my new job. “

The novel drew me in from the very first moment and kept me on my toes from start to finish. I found I was always waiting for a new turn, a new development and this really excited me. I like the uniqueness of the idea that Snyder created. The position of food taster is such an old tradition for positions of power and Snyder really moulds it into her own and entwines it with the fantastic world she creates with so many different elements that all build up. The particular strength of the novel being the poison and whilst this isn’t a strong “fantasy” element on it’s own, the world that Snyder creates around and the use of the poisons and then the magic and the power it holds all entwine to connect so many strands of a plot that interweave so perfectly. 

Valek is a character I liked from the first moment I met him. He didn’t have this astounding physical presence of a love interest to fall madly in love with him, but his character was that which drew me in. Snyder did seem to focus more of the personality than the aesthetics which pleased me because sometimes I feel too much time is spent on the descriptions of features and the romance was very subtle. I didn’t feel like there was any insta-love and it really didn’t evolve at the centre of the novel. It was hidden deep and it bloomed slowly until it was just there and unveiled and it really worked. Valek is one of my favourite love interests and I can’t wait to see him in the next novel.

“You look stunning,” I blurted.

Mortified, I blushed as a rush of heat spread through my body. I must have swallowed more brandy than I’d realized.

Yelena was a fantastic character. She was stubborn and hard-working and I valued her all the more for learning to stand up for herself and trying really hard. At first she seemed a little wet and easily pushed over, but actually she matured and grew as a character as she began to settle into the castle more and acquaint herself with the other characters. The fact that she was smart and intuitive only added to my liking of her character as well as the physical ability to defend herself and not be afraid of herself whilst not being emotionless. Snyder crafted a well thought out heroine and made her likeable. Not only was Yelena a strong, likeable character, but she didn’t attempt to struggle through on her own and shun other people. I feel sometimes heroines have to have this dependency that mean other people are not needed, but Yelena sought help to aid her growth when she needed it, but that didn’t mean she was incapable of solving problems all on her own.

“We owe you one. Anytime you need help, just let us know.” Ari said. His words gave me a bold idea. Brazell might be gone, but he was still a threat. I thought fast, searching for reasons why my plan wouldn’t be to my benefit.

“I need help,” I said.”

Ari and Janco really added to my enjoyment. I find that there always has to be two happy go lucky lads there to mess around and be serious enough to be there is a crisis. They kind of reminded me of Fred and George from Harry Potter because they were incredibly loyal, but at the same time willing to have a joke and tease with Yelena. Synder created a dynamic that I hope to see in the next two novels even though Yelena will be moving in a different directio, the loss of their characters would be a real shame for me. It also goes to show that Synder could build up a real background of secondary characters that added to the story enjoyment and I think every character had an individuality and story that came across to me as a reader which drew me into the world of poisons and food tasting.

To balance out all the action and excitement, Synder had some really touching and emotional moments built from the friendship bonds that Yelena made with the other characters and this really rounded the story to touch on elements of sadness, pain and sorrow with the light heartedness really touched me and made me keep turning the pages to see the character development. I also think the pain and anguish in the novel which sometimes led to anger and vengeance made the characters realistically human and relatable.

“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.”

Synder also built up a good world and there were lots of levels to the world. I think a little more description of the surroundings would have helped me visualise the setting a little more, but I think that Synder didn’t overload us with the information. She also had lots of poisons to learn and seem to have spent time and thought into working out the names which made the whole novel more realistic.

Overall, ‘Poison Study’ has to be one of my favourite fantasy novels of this year. It’s a shame I haven’t read it sooner, but I intend to read the next couple of books soon. And I heard there are plans to write three more after the ones, so there is even more to come. Yelena is everything a heroine should be, Synder has a world that is the basic foundations for fantasy and a plot that whilst might have elements of predictability is ultimately something contrived in uniqueness and only leaving me wanting more!

5 books

Fulfil the inner nerd and find out more here:

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Filed under 2007 Publication, 5 Books, Fantasy, Maria V. Snyder, Mira Books, Paperback, Romance, Young Adult

Infinity

Infinity

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Series: Chronicles of Nick #1

Genre: Urban-fantasy, Demons, Young-Adult

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

At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him.

Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.

As if starting high school isn’t hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?

My Review:

Exciting and engaging from the first moment, ‘Infinity’ has a real air of mystery that draws you in and really ensnares you in the action. Nick is a character I have heard from people time and time again that they don’t like him. Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with him, his sarcasm has always humoured me and whilst he can be a little cynical and offensive, his intentions are never bad. Nick is frankly a very likeable character and he unravels deeper in this novel in his own way that creates a greater understanding and might make him more likeable to you.

“What rock you been living under not to know that?”

Some people would probably call that rock “reality”, but Nick valued his life enough to keep that sarcasm inside.”

It clearly felt strange to read this book alongside the Dark-Hunter series, which is Kenyon’s adult series where Nick is first introduced. We jump back in time to when he is much younger and not yet as heavily involved in the Dark-Hunter world; well actually he’s entirely oblivious for the start of the novel and his understanding of the world is rather entertaining to see, especially when reading this alongside the Dark-Hunter series two very different worlds are seen. However, I wouldn’t say it is necessary to read the Dark-Hunter series because this clearly stands on it’s own as a series and whilst those who read the Dark-Hunter series will clearly be able to appreciate Kenyon’s style and versatility to move into young-adult and a separate series that develops Nick (who is primarily a secondary character in the Dark-Hunter series) as his own individual, those who haven’t will still gain equal enjoyment and may be encouraged to venture into the realm of adult books.

Kenyon has to be applauded for venturing into using a male protagonist because so many authors stick to the same female protagonist that becomes a little expected at times and I find a very different experience comes from male protagonists. Most of her adult novels take on a dual tone with male and female perspectives interspersed for each half of the couple and generally the female tone is more dominant, this is all in Nick’s perspective with intermingled scenes from others who are generally the ‘bad’ guys or mysterious creatures who are all part of the paranormal world. I really enjoyed the humour Kenyon managed to really put into Nick’s narrative and it was clear whilst being a teenage boy, his relationship with his mum was really developed and he clearly loves her deeply. The dynamic of their relationship was really evolved and nice to see that Kenyon didn’t put Nick as shying away from his emotions even as a teenage boy and presented him as very much a guy with an attitude who loved his mum.

“I swear you’re the lippiest child on the planet.”

Onto the actual plot, we get lots of characters, but they’re all introduced at different points in a way as not to confuse you so I felt like the plot slowly revealed itself which really allows the smooth flow of the story. The plot is a little slow to start with, but this is all character introductions and setting the scene which allows Kenyon to set this novel aside as a separate series that you are not expected to know any of the characters. Once we get into the bulk of the story and the zombies, demons, vampires and everything else that is hectic, mayhem and paranormal things really get exciting with enhanced cow prods and rocket launchers, there is humour, action and excitement galore. I don’t think I found a point of this novel to be boring once we got past the mundane introduction.

“But once you let me live … your big mistake … now I know you think I’m too cute and fluffy to kill.”

Overall, ‘Infinity’ is a novel that I urge all fans of Kenyon and fantasy young-adult fiction to pick up. Nick is a character that I think is likeable if you enjoy sarcasm and aren’t easily offended, so don’t be intimidated for him because beneath the surface is a “mummy’s boy” who is humorous and caring he just needs to find the straight path. I’ll be looking out for the next book in the series and whilst the recent read of ‘Seize the Night’ has confused by view of Nick and some of the relationships he has with characters, particularly Simi in this novel, but I’m sure Kenyon will enlighten me in the future of both the Dark-Hunters and the Chronicles of Nick since I feel they will both lead to a pinnacle point where they intertwine.

4 books

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Filed under 2010 Publication, 4 Books, Daimons, Paperback, Sherrilyn Kenyon, St Martin's Griffin, Urban-Fantasy, Young Adult