Category Archives: 2009 Publication

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

The Forest of Hands & Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Series: The Forest of Hands & Teeth #1

Genre: Dystopia, Romance, Zombies, Horror Young-Adult

Published: July 2009 by Gollancz

The Plot

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

The Review

 The Forest of Hands & Teeth was an interesting read for me. I don’t read that many zombie books nor do I really read that many dystopia type books, so I was curious to what Ryan would do. Frankly I had a very much love/hate relationship with this book. I agonized reading it over the plot direction, the decisions of the protagonist Mary and the heartbreak and then I’d put it down and yearn to read more. Quite clearly Ryan has a book that hooks and that cannot remain down for long, or not infinitely anyway because she makes you want this book resolved.

I’ll begin with Mary our protagonist who we follow for the story. She is selfish, annoying, deluded and most of all she is blinded by the unknown that she cannot see what is before her until it is lost. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if within the first two chapters she had been bitten by a zombie and rampaged around and eaten everybody. Unfortunately, I am sorry to disappoint you, this does not happen for one second. She is not bitten, nor does she rampage… as a zombie at least. Still, the plot wouldn’t quite be the same which does hold some real strength. It’s just Mary was not a character I liked nor one I tried to like after she failed to impress me.

One point that is not in Mary’s favour that probably didn’t help me is the world she lives in. The Sisters who are basically nuns control the village, they are the law, the leaders and they have the knowledge and the secrets. The Sisters are rather creepy and whilst they lord over the village, they surprisingly make it a very sexist society. Do not expect to find women’s rights being waved in your face because the Sisters have a plan for women. Have them married, get them to have babies, have them care for the babies, have more babies and so on until they die… This is the basic plot of what the Sisters expect from the women of the village and for those that fail to do that… well… who knows if their history was ever written down or they join the Sisters.

“You are a Bound woman now, Mary. And you have a duty to your  husband, to God and this village. It is time to own up to that duty, Mary. It is time you stopped playing by the fences.”

Despite the Sisters forcing the women into such roles, they were a fantastically creepy, twisted and mysterious group of women who I was definitely curious about. Without a doubt Ryan has created a warped group of ‘do-gooders’ who believe they are working for the best of the village and it fits generally into the typical expectation of a post-apocalyptic/dystopia novel that somebody must be attempting to ‘save the race’ although badly. However, I thought that Ryan took a rather original tone to the Sisters and they didn’t seem to feel like they’re own living breathing entity that I could generally see existing in the world.

I have to admit, I found that there were some very cute moments in this novel and despite the rather heart-breaking and torturous moments of the novel, the deaths and all the zombies and gore, I thought Ryan interspersed a few moments to detract from the depressive tone of the novel. And the perfect way to do this is bring a fluffy bundle of puppy!

“The dog tumbles to the floor and runs in a few circles and then comes and wiggles over my feet, its tail sweeping items off a low table nearby. “A wedding present for  you, Mary,” he says, dipping his face a bit as if embarrassed.”

Now there are two main men in the novel. Harry and Travis. Yes.. I see your thoughts travelling directly to a big ol’ love triangle.

chains of love

This actually pretty much perfectly sums up the relationships in The Forest of Hands & Teeth and it makes me tempted to not really call it a love triangle because Mary never really loves one of the love interest and the one she is in ‘love’ with, she never truly commits to for most of the novel. The moments in which we do have romance though touched me and I found myself awwwing a little bit.

“He pulls my face toward him, his lips brushing mine, and then he places my head against his shoulder. His arms wrap rightly around me and I understand how he needs me. I curl against his body, let him twirl his fingers through my hair.”

The Forest of Hands & Teeth is not a happy novel, I didn’t find that it was full of fun and joy, but it does make you think. I despised the main character and that was probably what detracted from my enjoyment the most. The plot whilst in large had moments of predictability was surprising and engaging and did serve to have a few unexpected plot twists that made me flip through the pages a little faster. I don’t think there is anything astounding about this novel, but it has enjoyable moments and it’s not too long. I recommend a rainy day when you have lots of free time. This novel like Mary’s brother managed to redeem itself largely by the end and I think I’ll be reading the sequel since it’s not from Mary’s point of view. I’ll leave you on a quotation I liked from the book.

“I want to believe in hope.”

~ 3 / 5 BOOKS ~

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Filed under 2009 Publication, 3 Books, Carrie Ryan, Dystopia, Gollancz, Hardback, Horror, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Romance, Young Adult, Zombies

Small Island

Small Island

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Genre: Historical-fiction, Adult

Published: September 17th 2009 by Headline Review

Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer’s daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.

Told in these four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers—in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant’s life.

My Review:

This book is one of those rare cases where I watched the TV drama and that prompted me to go out and buy this book. Buying this book in my view was a good decision because despite my dislike for war-time historical novels because they usually make me weep, this novel takes on a very different tone and I think the TV series really reflected it well. Splitting the narration into four perspectives and then switching from present to past slowly unravels the history and life of the characters whilst building up their characters and really develop the story and the morals of racism and change at the heart of this novel. It actually really touched me and I found myself wanting to rattle some of the characters who reflect the citizens of 1948 and their behaviour towards black people. Levy really creates a wonderful, heartfelt tale of the troubles the black men faced in England and during the war with white Americans!

First we gain a little background on Queenie as a young girl before being thrown into the present of 1948. During the year 1948 the four characters share narration, although Bernard doesn’t really come into the book until later. They couldn’t be more different in how everything is narrated and I literally loved seeing everything from their different perspectives. They all saw the world through different eyes and they were all treated differently. The split narration in Small Island undoubtedly gives the racial and sexual segregation and stigma a real platform to jump out at you. Not only do we have the present of 1948, but we jump back to ‘Before’ where each time the narration for one of the four characters reveals the background to how they got to where they are. It really adds to the mystery and serves to build up a complex plot with lots of interweaving narrations.

I have to say Hortense was by far my favourite character, purely for the way she spoke. She was incredibly popular and her “Just this” expression managed to crack numerous laughs from me. This book might cover a really controversial topic, but it manages to come across in a light-heartened, entertaining fashion with the innocence and naivety of Hortense who doesn’t understand 1948 Britain and her exasperated husband Gilbert.

‘Me caan believe what me ear is hearing. You a man. She just come off the boat – you mus’ show who boss. And straight way so no bad habit start. A wife must do as her husband say. You ask a judge. You ask a policeman. They will tell you. Everyt’ing in that trunk belong to you. What is hers is yours and if she no like it a little licking will make her obey.’

By far the dynamic between Hortense and Gilbert developed across the whole novel and really served as a base for the novel to return to. For me, they were the main focus of the novel with Queenie and Bernard’s character and background building all to add into their plots and deepen the twists and complexity. Not only that, but the progression between Hortense and Gilbert was really clear to see and the changing dynamic of their relationship really made me smile.

I may have said, Queenie and Bernard take a back seat, but they really have a history, a story and a lot of intricate twists and turns and a beautiful surprise that draws and connects them to Hortense and Gilbert. With that Levy really manages to show that the immigrating Jamaicans really weren’t that far away from the British. I found Queenie and Bernard’s tale to be much more heavy and saddening, it wasn’t that they had worse problems that those challenging Hortense and Gilbert, I just thought they both had a more sombre tone to their characters and this really brought the severity of their situation. However, Hortense and Gilbert balanced this by bringing a more light-heartened, optimistic view to things and this managed to lighten the problems of the story and brought a balance to a tale that could have been a overly woeful war tale, to a beautifully crafted novel!

“And the funny thing was I felt so peaceful being embraced by him and gently whispering, ‘There there, Bernard, there there.’”

Another integral part of this novel is the Jamaican feel and the style of speak. Levy really manages to bring the tone of voice and the style into everything she writes because you can really hear the voice in your head and the Jamaican accent. Even Hortense who has such ‘proper’ English manages to stand out for the way she speaks and it really serves to add to the enjoyment. Although, I think it takes a while to get used to, but moving with the flow of the story really makes it easier to accept. Don’t discard the novel because of it because it adds to the reality of the novel and immerses you in the tale.

‘I have not seen Gilbert,’ I told her, then went on to ask, ‘but this is perchance where he is aboding?’

Something to be warned of when reading is the racial slurs and if they are something you aren’t comfortable with, then I’d probably avoid this novel or at least try it and place the slurs in context to the time where people were slowing coming around from the idea of black people as second class citizens from their slave heritage particularly to the Americans or invaders for the British who felt them to be alien.

Despite these points, the characterisation is absolutely flawless and I don’t think Levy could have done a better job. She should be applauded for taking on four perspectives and really carrying them off. To add to this, the background details and descriptions were equally brilliant and it all brought the novel together as a really fantastic piece of literature that should definitely be remembered as literature!

“Then he ran through the door, saying, ‘Hortense, what you have in that trunk – your mother?’

As the Englishwoman was still looking at us I smiled instead of cussing and said, ‘I have everything I will need in that trunk, thank you Gilbert.’

‘So you bring your mother, then,’ Gilbert said.

This novel is called a “courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit” and I can safely say, for me it really did achieve that. War novels might not always be my favourites since they are so saddening, but I think this really served to bring a different perspective and open my eyes to all sides of a tale that you really might not see!

4 books

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Lord of Misrule

Lord of MisruleLord of Misrule by Rachel Caine
Genre:
Young-Adult, Vampires, Romance
Series: Morganville Vampires #5
Published: January 6th 2009 by Signet

In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans coexist in (relatively) bloodless harmony. Then comes Bishop, the master vampire who threatens to abolish all order, revive the forces of the evil dead, and let chaos rule. But Bishop isn’t the only threat.
Violent black cyclone clouds hover, promising a storm of devastating proportions as student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against elements both natural and unnatural.

Review:

Wow! It has been an awfully long time since I picked up the Morganville vampire series. I own them all, but I just never seem to find time to read them. It was around last August I think that I read book 4 and I just haven’t found the right time to read this one. All I can say it, why didn’t I pick this book up sooner? It was fantastic!

I think Rachel Caine has such a talent with this series and the premise for the town overrun and ruled by vampires is fantastic. We don’t get sparkly teen angst from the Twilight series or the indestructible vampires she creates, but we get a hard core grit and pain from these vampires along with the towns folk that makes Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series so brilliant. The humans are almost ‘pets’ kept by the vampires and they control the town and who comes in and out. It’s quite sordid in an effect and really suspense building.

Not only do the books read well, she has some fantastic covers. I love looking at the covers of her books and this one is no different. We get some very pretty ones and it always boosts you up to read a book that is easy on the eye and just as good to read.

This one picks up exactly where the last one left off. However, I love that Caine gives us a little run down on what has previously happened in the last four books to jog our memory. My memory is pretty good, so most of it I’d remembered anyway, but for those of us that don’t have quite the memory, it’s really good to have that there to rely on. Another reason why Caine is such a wonderful author!

I didn’t find myself bored at a single moment of this book. I read it in around one sitting with a couple of breaks and I literally couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Claire is a fantastic character! She’s highly intelligent, brave and concerned for her friends. She puts herself into danger to save others and even to those she doesn’t like she always finds herself lending a hand. It’s refreshing to see a forward thinker like Claire in young-adult novels who is so highly intelligent and forward thinking on her own. She is literally a child genius and it’s a reason that I love the novel so much!

And, a real bonus to this novel was how highly unpredictable it was. I found that we were dotting everywhere like a ping-pong ball and it was exciting. It’s so easy for authors to fall into a stereotype of predictability and this makes Caine a very refreshing read!

The relationship between Claire and Shane is certainly developing in a positive direction and I find those two highly adorable. I am definitely a Team Shane man all the way. He’s protective and honourable and whilst he may have been the bad boy at the start, he really cares for Claire and it’s incredibly sweet. Shane is one of my favourite love interests that I read about and it’s safe to say I am entirely enamoured with the guy. The guy is humorous, quirky and caring and he steps out as brave even though he might be a little stupid, you have to appreciate his character.

The only thing I had about the whole novel was that Claire didn’t really learn much in this one or do much in the case of her brain or scientific. There are hints that she’s going to learn all about the portals with Myrnin, but it would have been nice to see more of an active intelligence side to Claire that we have seen in previous instalments to this series. Nevertheless it was a highly enjoyable read!

I felt like we got progression from the previous novel and Caine left us on a rather a cliff-hanger. It was highly unfortunate I didn’t have the next novel with me otherwise I know I would have started it straight away. Nevertheless I’m sure I’ll be picking it up soon, I know that I won’t be able to stay away now.

My Rating:

4 books

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Shiver

Shiver

Title: Shiver

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1

Genre: Young-Adult, Romance, Werewolves

Publication: 2009 by Scholastic

Plot:

When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace’s small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can’t help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There’s something about him – something almost human. Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away…
A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page.

Review:

I have very mixed opinions over this book, I thought parts touched on being brilliant, whilst other parts I just felt were over emotional, silly and I just couldn’t get along with them. This book is certainly one that touches in with emotions, and is very emotion centred. I don’t think I’ve quite read a book where one of the main characters is so acutely aware of his emotions. It was rather strange experience because he was so sensitive over everything.

On with the story… I’ve heard this being called the “Twilight with werewolves” whilst I disagree completely with the statement, I can see where people grasps the concept from because Grace hits a little bit of emotional trauma, but this does not span for months on end or result with her in a zombie state. She isn’t whiny or over-done whilst she hits this little bit of a downer and I felt it was an appropriate reaction to the situation.

On the other hand people are calling this a masterpiece and I can slightly understand that, but masterpiece I would not call this! I think it has the makings of a good young-adult novel with the romance and direction, but certain aspects such as the characters and over-emotional tendencies of Sam, the love interest, really annoyed me.

Having said that, I found the last few chapters of this novel highly touching and they did bring tears to my eyes. It certainly altered my perspective on the novel after the last few chapters, but I felt that maybe this was a little too late to truly love the novel. I felt the ending reached a pinnacle point of closure and I’m not really sure how Stiefvater can carry on this series for two more books. Although I do own them both, so I think I’ll continue to read and see the direction she takes the couple in.

As for the “insta-love” as people have begun to call it that appears in many young-adult novels. I think the whole concept as a whole depends upon the person because some people truly believe in “love at first sight” and such experiences, which is why I find it hard to judge a book on this reason alone. However in the case of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, I felt although some aspects of the romance could be called “insta-love” the two had been sharing something across 6 years even though they weren’t aware of exactly what this was, it was created over an extended period of time. And this is why I wouldn’t call this book “insta-love”, to me it was more of a fraught emotional romance.

Grace. I’m not sure how I feel about her. She was practical and caring, but at times she lacked as a character any real human ways. She seemed to discard her friends who apparently were the great “trio” before the book started. Even then though, her friends Rachel and Olivia didn’t seem to care about this fact and made little or no attempt to secure their friendship. I didn’t get the feeling that the friends were at all as close as previously eluded to and that even at the start of the book their friendship was very much in tatters. Olivia seemed the most concerned with Grace whilst Rachel popped up on occasions only to discuss her holiday at Christmas that Grace must attend. It was rather annoying!

Grace herself just seemed to go through the whole book without reaching a female lead and as one of the stories protagonists, it’s hard to really call her a lead when she never had any strong feelings other than for Sam. I think the pinnacle point in where she took action was the hunting scenario. Then with her parents she never really ‘corrected’ their behaviour as such because she only ever stood up to her mother once and then the whole issue was brushed aside. It seemed Grace had real problems with her parents who were never around yet claimed to be “doing the best for her” when they popped up and she never truly questioned this. She buried it and pushed it aside, so I hope in the next couple of novels this will be explored by Stiefvater.

Onto Grace’s friend Olivia who becomes a rather vital part of the story. I found it hard going with this story because I grew to hate Olivia at a certain time within the novel and I found this difficult reading personally because my own name is Olivia, but that was a rather personal grievance. However I feel like she was a rather selfish character at times, that never truly connected with Grace even though they were friends and it wasn’t until the end I could really appreciate her character. Even then, I think without her name-sake she still isn’t a character I’d hold in high esteem with her personal traits.

Sam. I have mixed emotions over this boy because he was so sensitive and flowery with his emotions. I felt it was overdone at times and that he could have been less emotional. Maybe this was partly to do with him being a werewolf and I expected him to be more wild and fierce as a werewolf. However over the story I understood this emotional traits more and I felt it balanced with Grace and added to the heart-wrenching moments this story created as a young-adult novel.  As a character he did have real reason for his emotional state and behaviour, which unlike some characters I’ve previously read, I found that I could greatly appreciate his history despite it’s horrific setting. Beneath his exterior I think there is a more cheeky boy to his demure rather than the shy, embarrassed boy we’ve met in this first novel and I hope this comes out because I feel there is a real need for it to lighten the mood.

We witnessed a duel perspective throughout the novel, which I think worked effectively for us both to appreciate the minds of Grace and Sam, although our central focus was upon Sam. There was limited time in Sam’s mind and I found this disappointing, but the use of the dual perspective certainly encouraged the pace of the story line along and prevented Grace’s descriptions of Sam’s beauty and her love becoming too over-bearing.

Another aspect this novel touches on that could be potentially controversial is teen-sex, which some people agree on whilst others disagree. However I think this is all part of a teenage life and it wasn’t explained in graphic detail. I felt it fit with the story and the idea of limited time. Being part of human nature it’s hardly something you can criticise Stiefvater for adding and I felt she covered the issue sufficiently without being overboard. The pair were both consenting whilst some may push to say Grace forced Sam, he was agreeable and the one that pushed her onto the bed, so it is hardly an issue for debate in my opinion.

The overall plot was okay. I liked the werewolf aspect and the genetics behind the werewolf gene. I found it unique to the story and I think Stiefvater has a cracking rather harrowing ideal. I however think the places, the scenes and characters took a backdrop to the emotional aspect of this story, which is a very different type of young-adult I’ve read, but it could have benefitted from more working elsewhere to make the plot less “search for somebody, solve problem, cry a little” and more action and sustenance.

Overall I think this is a good young-adult novel with a few faults, but nothing to be overlooked lightly. I can say I did enjoy the read by the end of it, and I’d recommend it to somebody who is in touch with their emotional side, but I’m not sure it’ll blow you away.

Favourite Quotation:

“Books are more real when you read them outside.”

My rating:

3.5 books

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Filed under 2009 Publication, 3.5 Books, Maggie Stiefvater, Paperback, Romance, Scholastic, Werewolves, Young Adult

Blaze of Memory

Blaze of Memory

Title: Blaze of Memory

Author: Nalini Singh

Series: Psy-Changeling #7

Genre: Paranormal-romance, Adult, Were-shifters

Published: November 3rd 2009 by Berkley

Plot:

Dev Santos finds a woman with amnesia-and all she can remember is that she’s dangerous. Stripped of her memories by a shadowy oppressor and programmed to kill, Katya’s only hope is Dev. But he could very well be her next target.

Review:

This book became a hard one to judge. Throughout reading I was adamant this book would be a three stars and the ending entirely changed everything! I was holding back the sobs, which I didn’t expect to be. It shows that despite Singh having written 7 books previous to this on in the Psy-Changeling series, she still manages to throw a spanner in the works!

Despite the tear-jerking moments I felt that the book was a little drab in places, it lacked some of the excitement that the last few books Singh has given us, held. It lacked the spark to take of and make me race through this book without thought. It wasn’t until around 200 pages in where I really started to turn the pages.

However it is probably what you expect to find in one of Singh’s paranormal-romance books, the sexy man, the woman who has to make her own journey, a game of cat and mouse and the capture. However we do get more than this because there are sub-levels we have yet to explore from previous novels, especially with the Forgotten which was exciting.

‘Blaze of Memory’ did seem to fall flat with the involvement of secondary characters because we didn’t have not nearly as many interludes as the previous novel into exploration of other characters. I felt this allowed us to focus more on the two characters, but it was probably what drew out the read for me.

The guy on the cover is not how I imagined our lead male, Dev, not at all! He’s not nearly as masculine and brooding, so he’s not my bar for the main character. In my head he was much better, so I didn’t allow the cover to influence me on this lead.

After reading ‘Branded by Fire’ I almost feel sorely let down, but in some ways I feel like Singh had a large mountain to climb in living up to her previous book. Nevertheless, don’t not read this book because it’s invaluable to the series.

I’d tell you to read this book and the whole Psy-Changeling series which is just fantastic, but don’t be prepared to be blown away by this particular novel. It’s just above average and leading to excitement for the future, but for me it’s more of a filler novel than anything.

My rating:

3.5 books

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Lover Avenged

Title: Lover AvenLover Avengedged

Author: J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #7

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Adult, Vampires

Published: November 27th 2009 by Piatkus Books

Plot: As the vampire warriors of the BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD defend their race from their slayers, one male’s loyalty to the Brotherhood is about to be tested – and his dangerous mixed blood revealed.

Caldwell, New York, has long been the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and owner of a notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and the leader of the Brotherhood.

However, Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood. He’s a symphath and the revelation of his deadly secret will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And a plot within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in the darkening world: Ehlena, a vampire untouched by corruption that has its hold on him – and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

Review: Damn this book was long, but it was utterly fantastic.

J.R. Ward really leaves little space for me to criticise. She manages to envelop secondary characters with individual storylines that are all interwoven with the main pairing, Rev and Ehlena and makes everything exciting and interesting. Despite the secondary characters all gaining their own attention it doesn’t take it away from the main storyline.

It was lovely to see the reappearance of Wrath and Beth who we meet in the first book, Dark Lover. I advise you all if you haven’t read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series to go rush and buy them! They are utterly fantastic and only get better! However, don’t read them out of order because they really require the precise order to make any form of sense because of the character depth and storyline.

By the end of the book I was in the state of happiness and despair. The action Ward creates is indescribable and the ending makes sure we cannot wait for the next book!

Rev has to be one of my favourite all time characters! He was on the peripheral for most of the previous books and somebody I failed to connect with, but Ward brought him in at the perfect moment. He’s everything your lead male should be and by the end I was a gooey mess on the floor. A sweet kind of over-indulged mess!

Me:

melted-chocolate

After all, he manages to be the strong, sexy male throughout the whole book with this unwavering devotion to protect those he cares for. What more could a girl ask for?

Saying that, these book shouldn’t just be labelled as for the female population, because it is clear to me, that both women and men can love them equally. The third person perspective that Ward presents that allows her to adopt the view of so many characters allows you to delve into the story from your own perspective and rather than attempt to view the plot from a female/male perspective you can take it as your own and really enjoy it.

My only problem if I had to pick one with this book, is the villain. I truly detest him beyond belief. I think that’s the point, but it’s to the extent that I skim read the sections that follow his life. However, having said that his character is brilliant as a leading villain, but for me, I cannot stand to read about him!

This book really does contain everything and the suspense is fantastic. We get a build up of so many key events that it becomes almost the perfect ‘Disney’ moment.

suspense

I fail to see how Ward can truly offer us more in one book, because she seemed to surpass her usual standards with Lover Avenged and I know I’ll certainly be picking ‘Lover Mine’ up very quickly in deed!

Just read the series because you will not regret it!

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Filed under 2009 Publication, 5 Books, Adult, J.R. Ward, Paperback, Paranormal Romance, Piatkus Books, Vampires

Branded by Fire

Branded by FireTitle: Branded by Fire

Author: Nalini Singh

Series: Psy-Changeling #6

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Were-shifters, Adult

Published: July 7th 2009 by Berkley

Plot: When a brilliant changeling researcher is kidnapped, DarkRiver sentinel Mercy, a cat, and SnowDancer lieutenant Riley, a wolf, must work together to track the young man-before his shadowy captors decide he’s no longer useful. Along the way, the two dominants may find that submitting to one another uncovers not just a deadly conspiracy, but a passion so raw that it’ll leave them both branded by fire.

Review: Before I begin, I adored this book, but something seemed to niggle at the back of my mind whilst I read it and it gained 5 stars because of my adoration of the characters and the secondary characters, not the overall ‘plot’ as such.

Mercy is a dominant female and she defines female independence and intelligence. She is a sentinel and that makes her not your cute ‘kitty cat’. You are certainly kept on your toes with her mood swings and kick ass nature, but throughout it all she becomes a character you can’t help but fall in love with. At the heart of her character outside her crusty exterior is a woman who has a heart just as much as every other women.

Riley we haven’t seen much of until now. We know him as Brenna’s overprotective brother and he’s certainly making his stance in the novel. It’s hard to forget his imposing character and he made me want to drool.

This book does not know the meaning to slow build up, everything is fast, hard and a struggle for dominance, but it works and it doesn’t take away from the nature of the story. I’m partial to believing this is because it’s the first changeling-changeling pair we’ve met together. It was an interesting story because these two weren’t from the same pack, so the cross pack dilemma is raised as well as the truth about female sentinels.

Secondary characters are something some authors fail to really achieve in the sense that they develop their own personalities and quirks. Singh is a master! She incorporates every tale we’ve seen previously, and teases us with the prospect of new pairings. This particularly story looked more into the Alpha pairing and Amara and Ashaya. These really made the book well-rounded because a constant presence in Riley and Mercy’s relationship I fear would have made the book dry out.

The plot is your hot man + hot woman = sex and a happy ever after.

In that we get:

  • A denial
  • A family initiation
  • Lots of hot sex
  • The couple on the verge of losing one and other
  • Dilemma averted by the end

In between we get road blocks and curve balls that you don’t expect and they are introduced largely by the secondary characters, but it seems to fall into the A + B = C slot for me in terms of plot. I did in large enjoy the story, I just felt like the plot was becoming overused.

If Singh intends to spice up the series and keep it going, then I hope we don’t continue along the similar lines of a relationship forming and when it cements the lovers end in peril. It’s one of those problems with the paranormal world that everything seems to become the ‘same’.

However despite my feeling of familiarity with the plot, I adored the book! I would recommend it to fans of Singh, fans of wild animal romances and paranormal romance lovers!

Rating:

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Filed under 2009 Publication, 5 Books, Adult, Berkley, Futuristic, Nalini Singh, Paperback, Paranormal Romance, Wereshifters