Category Archives: 3.5 Books

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

8 Comments

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

Series Review (1-4): Line of Duty

protecting-tessa-baileyHis Risk to TakeOfficer off LimitsAsking for Trouble
Protecting What’s His (#1), His Risk to Take (#2), Officer Off Limits (#3), Asking for Trouble (#4) by Tessa Bailey

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult

The Review
This is a contemporary series from one of my favourite publishers when it comes to contemporary books, Entangled. Line of Duty follows a series of different police officers as they come face to face with a woman who will challenge them and eventually one they will find romance with; inevitable right?

I feel like this series has strengthened as it has gone along and Officer Off Limits and Asking for Trouble were both much stronger than their predecessors. I will not claim that this series is free of the typical clichés that usually accompany the contemporary romance scene, and neither are these books perfect. However they are enjoyable.

Each of the novels introduces a new officer to the tale, however in some there are connections to the previous novels and links between the police forces, so the characters are not all entirely new. However each one explores a different perspective and this serves to reinvigorate each novel with new energy and prevent it from falling into the trapping of the previous one.

Largely the female protagonists tend to be women with past troubles, who are seeing themselves as independent and without the need for a man in their life. Bailey unfortunately does seem to fall into the trappings of this typical cycle of strong female, eventually being ‘saved’ in some way by the male police officer in the end, but when read over a period of time and not directly next to each other, I think this makes the series easier to handle and more enjoyable.

My favourite book from the series is probably Officer Off Limits which deals with Story Brooks and Daniel Chase. I felt like Story stayed much more true to her strengths and independence than the other female protagonists and I really had my heart stolen by officer Daniel Chase. Although the other police officers certainly have many a redeeming quality; who after all, can resist a man in uniform? However I did feel like that for a romance novel this edition in particular had a little more of a serious note that wasn’t the typical backstory and it served to really address characterisation that sells a novel to me.

Overall, this series is fun, flirty and a quick read that has some great teasing moments. It easily fills the need for a little bit of fluff and romance in ones life whilst not being too unrealistic nor annoying. Bailey has a solid series here and I think most contemporary romance fans will find something enjoyable in the Line of Duty series!

Historical Survival Chances
Honestly, I do not think this series despite being lots of fun, will last long in the span of history. I believe much more epic romances that are on the level of Pride and Prejudice are the types of novels that should survive through history and will be the literary genius that we are remembered for.

Survival Chances: 25%

Expiration Date: 2027

 

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads (#1), (#2), (#3), (#4) ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

3 Comments

Filed under 3.5 Books, Adult, Contemporary, Entangled Publishing, Romance, Tessa Bailey, Uncategorized

A Shade of Vampire

A Shade of Vampire

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Vampires, Young-Adult

Publication: December 14th 2012

The Plot

A young girl, Sofia is kidnapped on her 17th birthday and whisked away to the land of the vampires. There she must learn to survive and stand brave in the face of fangs.

She meets and catches the eye of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince destined to save all vampires. The weight of responsibility weights heavy on his broad, handsome shoulders, but adding Sofia to his harem will bring butterflies and sunlight to his dark world.

However can he really be trusted and will his evil, blood-sucking brother Lucas destroy all? Or will Sofia’s infatuation with her best friend ruin any potential love match between her and Derek?

My Review

A Shade of Vampire was an interesting read to say the least, and whilst I won’t claim it was entirely original, it was enjoyable. Do be warned that journeying into A Shade of Vampire will be accompanied by quite a few clichés, but it will also be enjoyable, fast-paced and tension filled that made me turn the pages, quirk a smile and shiver in delight. I certainly found A Shade of Vampire to be entertaining at the base of things, and plunging into the world of vampires that exist in their own realm on the verge of extinction only makes things even more thrilling. I only hope that Forest will go on to explore the depths of the world-building in A Shade of Vampire and explore character depth and history a little more.

Firstly, I’ll start with the main character Sophia. I won’t claim she’s a kick-ass heroine, but she was kind, considerate and human. She reacted in fear, wonder, curiosity and didn’t judge everybody when she first met them. I liked that she cared about the individuals and that she was honestly torn. She looked beneath the surface of individuals and didn’t immediately jump to going “I love you, I love you” when she first saw the vampires or immediate “hate” she showed curiosity and intelligence. Sophia honestly isn’t my favourite heroine of all time, but I found it easy to like her and connect with meant reading was enjoyable. I think her strongest characteristic was her forethought to a situation and insight.

He was what every teenage girl would most likely describe as hot, which was rather ironic considering how pale and frozen he looked. He had the same features as his brother, but there was something more refined about him. There was a hint of boyishness in his face.

Derek is the love interest of the story and also the big-bad monster that will supposedly save the vampire race. I saw very little of this, I saw a man that was a coward, afraid of who he was meant to be and where he was meant to go. He was prepared to stand up to his guards, but his siblings and his duty were largely ignored or shirked. Derek for me, held lots of potential and he was always on the edge of falling into the deliciously suave, sexy and irresistible vampire that I expected that held the dark and dangerous edge down to a ‘t’. However currently as much as he was endearing, he’s not quite swept away with my heart as much as he seems to be capturing Sophia’s heart.

The plot wasn’t entirely original, but pacey and engaging enough to keep my attention. Nevertheless I feel that more substance needs to be added into the plot to fulfil my curiosity and questions in the next instalment of this series because whilst I feel like we have a solid foundation to the story, there needs to be more to sustain my interest. The world-building was basic, but the concept of the world separated and protected for vampires to live in from Earth was utterly fascinating and I’d definitely like to learn more about it. I felt like it was on the verge of becoming brilliant! Apart from the clichés I felt like there was a solid basis for a first book in a series.

Parts of The Vale looked like a town that had popped right out of the medieval era. The streets were lit with burning lanterns. Thatched roofs, clay exteriors, tents housing a variety of wares.

In regards to the villain of the novel, Lucas, he’s not really entirely despicable in comparison to others. However he was definitely devious and dangerous enough to ruffle a few feathers and I definitely predict his return with much more vengeance in future novels. He seems to be one of those villains that will never die off in my opinion and I fully expect more schemes and mystery to sink my teeth into. Oh and yeah, these vampires have fangs which get five bonus points from me, which they actually bite with.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Shade of Vampire and whilst it was short, it has lots to offer. A rainy day read or a quick escape into a world of darkness and vampires with some dark sides. There is a romance that will engage and entertain whilst not totally being slow and steamy, it is sweet and pacey that keeps the imagination ticking. Overall A Shade of Vampire is solid entertaining read, which I feel has lots of hidden potential.

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

18 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Bella Forrest, E-book, Indie Author, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Young Adult

How Beauty Met the Beast

How Beauty Met The Beast

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: November 19th 2012 by Carina Press

The Plot

The Beast – Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty – Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

My Review

How Beauty Met The Beast is a book I saw quite a while ago and dismissed it thinking it wasn’t for me. It is safe to say, I am so glad that I returned and picked it up. It may only be a short novella at around 100 and something pages, but every inch of it is action-packed and hooking. Urban-fantasy isn’t usually my primary reading material, but blending this in with a little bit of steampunk and teasing us with romance served to encapsulate my attention for the whole time. And it served to motivate me to read the second book straight after, a very rare occurrence for me, since I much prefer to procrastinate for months and forget the plot lines of previous books before returning to the series. Admittedly, the book isn’t perfect, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining.

I think one of my favourite aspects has to be the ‘Beast’ of the story or Hauk. He may be a man troubled, emotionally reserved and with low expectations of people but he doesn’t allow that to define and infiltrate his actions and morals. He might not be on the right side of the law, but there was definitely the feel of a good man. After his accident in the war, he has been left horrifically scarred and this definitely affects the way he views himself, but I enjoyed how he met ‘Beauty’ a.k.a Jolie and things changed. It wasn’t so blatantly obvious, but the subtly really worked into the storyline to not overpower the plotline.

The world was definitely one to be admired and the complexity of the underground movement, the Underlight and all the political conspiracy that surrounds this certainly entertained me. The aspects of steampunk enter in the Underlight which has removed itself from the world of technology and it moving away from the modern world that is full of corruption. It wasn’t entirely developed to tell every detail, but sufficient enough to gain a good idea and I enjoyed the concept. It definitely served to add excitement with the warning factions and the underground secrecy of everything.

“It’s like I went back in time,” she muttered in awe.
There wasn’t a single piece of plastic anywhere. No electronics, either. No computer. No phone. No television or radio. The desk held paper and a fountain pen. Candlelight gave the room a living glow. Damask browns and burnished hold made up the main palette, with hints of burnt orange and forest green filling the room with a masculine warmth.

Jolie was definitely a character I admired. Despite her bourgeois background, she didn’t allow this to define her or constrain her relationships with others like Hauk. She was down to earth and kind and caring. She also happened to be sassy, smart and brave. Without a doubt Jolie is a kick-ass heroine that runs into things with the best of intentions and usually succeeds because she does think too. I liked everything about Jolie and whilst at times she was a little obtuse, I think that was more a reflection of human nature than anything. Her choice of job is certainly interesting, but I don’t think the judgement should come on first impressions because there is a lot beneath the surface with Jolie.

“Oh. Weird. Well, I guess being a classy stripper is pretty different.”

One of my favourite characters had a very small part, but it was Jolie’s niece and her witty insight to situations certainly added to the humour of the book. It also rounded that novel that there was touches on humour throughout not just from Whitney but other characters too. It certainly showed that the secondary characters could also be fleshed out despite the short length of the novel and this served to impress me because I really felt that I had a handle on the other characters and their positions in the novel.

Whitney sighed. “I told you not to kiss him while he was asleep.”
Was she getting chastised by a twelve-year-old?
“I didn’t!”

Overall, How Beauty Met the Beast was enjoyable, action-packed and thrilling from start to finish. This is most definitely the start to a fantastic series that has some well-fleshed out characters and ideas that have me eager to read more. I definitely recommend this one without reserve!

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

8 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance, Urban-Fantasy

The Holders

The Holders

The Holders by Julianna Scott

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Young-Adult

Series: Holders #1

Publication: March 5th 2013 by Strange Chemistry

The Plot

Becca is a girl who is the female lioness. She is fiercely protective of her cub, a.k.a her brother. He has these voices in his head and she’s positive that he’s not deluded. She had defended him against all the men in white coats. In addition to this, she has to deal with the fact that her father abandoned her as a child and her brother and mother still idolise this man.

When two people come from a school, St. Brigid’s to promise a happily-ever-after and safe place, Becca is still the paranoid sceptical.

However this leads to moving all the way over to Ireland, but in the process a whole host of history is unveiled and there is Alex. The swoony, heart-throb who is utterly endearing, slightly frustrating, but a very loveable guy.

We get some shocks, some action and lots of quick page turning throughout this book that makes up a fabulous exciting fantasy novel that starts a series that promises to be thrilling!

The Review

The Holders is a book that has come about with plenty of praise for a debut novel, so I had fairly high expectations going into reading, and trust me, it did not disappoint. I was riveted from the very first moment of picking it up and turning the page. I just couldn’t stop reading this book and there was plenty of action delivered. It was exactly the book I needed to drag me into reading again and I think I’ve missed out on some of the intense action that comes with a short book. The Holders is not perfect, and the arc was surprisingly riddled with spelling errors, but it does make a very enjoyable book that made me smile and skipped it’s way into my heart.

Firstly I’m going to start with my favourite element of the whole novel, Alex. Now, I am not usually one for guys who’d I’d necessarily term “cute” like Zeke from ‘The Immortal Rules’, but Alex swept in and easily stole my heart. He was thoughtful, caring and an utterly faulty character which made him realistic. He blushed and was easily hurt, but I feel that literature is full of the “look at me” male heroes and in being so unlike these he captured my heart. I didn’t feel like he was trying to dominate the novel or control Becca like so many guys appear to go, he allowed her independence and actively encouraged it. Alex has undoubtedly made it onto my favourite love interests and the good  news there is only him to see and explore so I thought that Scott really embellished and rounded his character to show the good sides to him.

Then, without seeming conscious of the action, his hand came up and slowly brushed the stray hairs away from my face, softly grazing my cheek. My heart lurched and sputtered, and I prayed he couldn’t feel my hands shake against his shoulders. Holding my eyes with a look that made my stomach tight, he continued, “Don’t ever apologize for saying how you feel.”

Becca on the other hand, I didn’t love as much. She was a great strong, kick-ass protagonist, but her slight tendency to overreact annoyed me ever so slightly. Other than that, I really liked her. She was smart, caring and she clearly had a good relation with her brother and mother. However, I do feel there is more of her to uncover and that we didn’t get to know her character as much as we could have done and that more development is needed to really strengthen her.

The focus on the school and the world building was really good and whilst the school element may not be wholly original, I thought Scott built up a fantastic world of ‘The Holders’ and all the history that surrounded them. I felt that the magic of the really novel really captured the reader and drew me in so I had all my sense bombarded with the powers and talents of the characters. Scott handled the transition from America to Ireland exceptionally well and the rural landscape and greenery of Ireland was captured in the setting of the school with the woods and wildness. I really felt the greenness of the land creeping into the text and a love for the wild.

The main issue of this novel is, it’s pretty predictable on most levels this novel. The events that follow don’t come of much as a surprise, but honestly that didn’t detract all that much from my enjoyment and I happily turned the pages to unveil the next round of action.

Overall, I think The Holders is a really strong debut novel from Scott and I’m looking to future instalments for this series to see where Scott will take us. I definitely think everybody should take a chance with this one as it is lots of fun, an easy read and a whirlwind of action, cute romance and enjoyment.

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

6 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 3.5 Books, Fantasy, Julianna Scott, Magic, Romance, Strange Chemistry, 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 ~

32 Comments

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

Descension

Descension

Descension by B. C. Burgess

Series: Mystic #1

Genre: Young-Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Witches

Published: April 4th 2012

Hosted by AToMR Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE.

The Plot.

The Angel
After three years caring for her dying mother, Layla Callaway learns she was adopted under unusual circumstances. Following a cryptic message to seek her birth family in Oregon, Layla uproots her lonely life, quickly finding she descends from witches and wizards. Magic is in her blood, and a handsome family friend is eager to prove it. Through a ring imprinted with her birth parents’ memories, Layla’s enigmatic past comes to light, presenting possibilities and trials more chimerical than her wildest dreams.

The Guardian
Quin’s natural charisma yields plenty of witches, but he longs for the lost witch – the mysterious Layla. He’s dreamed about her his entire life, envisioning the day he would lay eyes on her face and aura. When that day arrives, not only is he breathless, he’s confronted with the challenge of a lifetime – an innate need to keep her safe and forever by his side.

The Hunter
Employing fiendish manipulation and manpower, Agro uses the arcane force of others to elevate his supremacy and wealth. Nothing pleases him more than latching on to a mystical vein, and never has there been a more enticing source. The divine witch will be his.

Descention Tour Banner

My Review.

Descension was undoubtedly a pleasant surprise for me. I signed up to this tour thinking the premise sounded really interesting and was eager to read the book, but at the back of my mind I had doubts about whether I’d like this book. Concerns aside, Burgess captured my attention with Descension and I’m certainly eager to get my hands on the next book in the series. However, I do feel like Descension was a more introductory novel to the series than one filled with action, whilst this didn’t detract from my enjoyment and Burgess maintained my attention throughout the whole of the book with the two entwined romance stories across two time spans, I feel like to keep my interest the next novel will have to kick up the action. Despite this, I was fully invested in the idea and growth of the characters and the love story that Burgess delivered.

I find that the synopsis is rather misleading because at first I believed the novel would be about angels, but in fact it’s witches. Either way it fulfilled my love of the paranormal. I haven’t read a witch novel in a while and I thought Burgess approached the dynamic in an interesting way, but I want to see how she develops the witch dynamic further because we only began to touch on the idea of witchcraft and spells in the present day. I felt more invested in witchcraft in the time jump to the past with Layla’s parents and I feel like we are still left I felt with many questions to the witches and their story as a general. However, I thought they were entirely realistic and believable in their powers that manipulated the earth elements and I liked the community feel of the covens.

“You don’t have to do that,” he said, opening his eyes.

“What did I… I didn’t mean.. Did I hurt you?”

“No,” he answered, “bur it’s an uncomfortable feeling when you’re not expecting it.”

“What did I do?” she squeaked, beyond mortified and so ashamed.

“You used magic on me.”

Burgess splits her novel into two, the present day and Layla’s story which didn’t really move anywhere in terms of actions and the story of her parents who abandoned her as a child (not through their own choices) and that was particularly where we saw more action, but nothing that got my heart racing. Burgess focuses on the relationship between Layla’s parents in the past and Layla uncovering the truth of her life in the presetn. However we don’t really explore much after her parents story is uncovered by Layla and this left me disappointed because I was expecting to see a reaction from Layla and I think the first novel would have benefitted Layla in terms of character growth to explore her response. I however did enjoy the time jump and I think Burgess worked the slip really well into the past and kept my interest, I just wish it had been a little shorter.

There is a strong focus on the relationships in this novel and romance is certainly a focal point, this helped to drive the novels. However I do feel that the characters immediately jump into their relationships rather quickly, the parents of Layla particularly. In addition to this Layla taking to Quin so quickly disturbed me a little when he was a total stranger, I felt she should have been more cautious. Despite the “insta-love” kind of romance, they built up the foundations for Layla’s parents relationship and I hope to see Layla develop further in her romance with Quin since there was very little chance for this. I liked that we also met the majority of characters through Layla’s parents and that these foundations will be useful for the many characters I feel will be coming shortly. The dynamic of the two relationships also gained to give the novel more substance, but I fear Layla’s parents relationship in the end overshadowed her story. However there were some cute moments between Layla and Quin.

“As they walked to her car, he remained remarkably close without touching her, his gaze rarely left her long enough to look where he was going. When they crossed the street, one of his palms lightly touched the small of her back, shooting tingles up her spine and vibrating her shoulders. She was sure he felt her tremble, but he didn’t mention the ridiculous reaction.”

My one disappointment with the novel is the fact of the hunter who I feel I know very little about, and whilst we have met Agro he does not appear to be the main villain. I hope Burgess explores this aspect to strengthen the novel as whilst the romance is incredibly touching and the family bonds in this novel are felt strongly, I feel there needs to be more to the series to sustain my interest. There was a touch on the hunter in the epilogue, but this only left me confused and it needs to be approached in the next novel to keep me on board.

Burgess certainly crafts the idea of a strong family unit and I liked that I really sensed family love and affection because many young-adult novel seem to discuss parents who don’t care. This is where Burgess steps away from the others and focuses on family which fits perfectly with the witch covens. This also builds up a plethora of secondary characters who I hope will be explored more in future novels as they are one of my favourite elements to a novel.

The characters in general I feel like I don’t know them well enough because I didn’t spend enough time with them so I knocked half a star off for that. By the end of I felt disconnected from Layla because her parents story had detracted from our time with her and I felt more invested in them as a couple. Therefore I hope this will be rectified in the next novel and I become more attached to Layla as I don’t feel like I could particularly talk about her character at the present.

Overall I enjoyed Descension but it didn’t blow me away so I struggled writing my review. However, I do recommend trying the book as I think it’s well written, engaging and it’s emotional that makes it an enjoyable read and it sweeps you away to a different place filled with love and family strength. I think Burgess has kicked off a great start to a series and I’m sure lots of people will indeed fall in love with it as I’m looking forward to reading more of her work too!

You can enter HERE to win a chance at a e-copy of Descension and it’s open internationally.

3.5 books

Links:

8 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, B.C. Burgess, Blog Tour, E-book, Fantasy, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Romance, Witches, Young Adult

Contemporary Blend #1

All of you may be surprised to note, my recent binge on contemporary romance, a genre I usually stray far far away from. However, I recently found Entangled Publishing’s Brazen collection and I found they were semi-decent so I devoured four of their books in as many days and here is my first two reviews on the books. Look out for the other two shortly.

Seducing Cinderella

Seducing Cinderella by Gina L. Maxwell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult

Series: Fighting for Love #1

Publication: July 20th 2012 by Entangled Publishing

The Plot.

Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews’s chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he’s injured only months before the rematch. To make sure he’s healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional’s care—Reid’s best friend’s little sister, all grown up.

Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She’d do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she’s crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.

Soon Reid finds him himself in the fight of his life…winning Lucie’s heart before she gives it to someone else.

The Review.

Seducing Cinderella was my first contemporary book I picked up by Entangled Publishing and I have to say, it is by far my favourite. There was something about Seducing Cinderella that entranced me from the first moment and had me hooked, flipping through the pages trying to get to the end. I think the fact that it wasn’t such a short 100 and something e-book also made the reading more enjoyable because I felt like there was some substance to the novel.

Reid Andrews was a man I could appreciate from the very first moment. He was tough and he had issues, but he genuinely cared about Lucie and I liked that there was a connection between the two characters from the start that wasn’t purely sexual and this is my general problem with contemporary books that they are overly sexualised and whilst this one had it’s moments I felt that we touched on the relationship between Lucie and Reid much more and managed to bring Lucie out of her shell to blossom. She was a character trapped in a general cliche that she hid herself away in books and baggy clothes and was smitten with another doctor. However I felt like we explored a fun side of her and I wanted to smack her half-way through the book because as usual she overlooked the best character so easily. Reid also had a great sense of humour that I really liked.

“Wait, why does my chart say Randy Johnson?”

Reid chucked at the ridiculous name he used for anonymity. “It’s an alias.” Wanting to erase the pained look from whatever had happened before he arrived, he gave her a wicked smile and added, “And sometimes a state of being.”

Her brother featured very little in this novel with not even a physical appearance, but I liked his character from the brief moment he appeared and his connection to Reid I felt could have been explored a little more since they were supposedly best friends and yet they never talked.. Rather bizarre if you ask me. Hopefully he’ll appear in the next book of the series with his own little story meaning we’ll get to see a little more of Lucie and Reid.

Overall, Seducing Cinderella was entertaining and enjoyable and it happily led me to finding more Entangled Publishing books to read.

3.5 books

No Flowers Required by Cari QuinnNo Flowers Required

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult

Series: Love Required #2

Published: August 23rd 2012 by Entangled Publishing

The Plot.

He’ll give her everything she desires…except his identity.

Flower shop owner Alexa Conroy had it all before the recession hit and her customers fled to cheaper shopping grounds. Desperate to make ends meet, she sells her dream home and moves into the rundown apartments above her shop. When she spots six feet of sexy distraction—complete with muscles, piercings, and tattoos—ripping up flooring, Alexa knows the karmic windfall she’s due just landed on her doorstep.

And the attraction’s definitely not one-sided.

Dillon James, reluctant heir to the corporation about to foreclose on Alexa’s shop, is not about to jeopardize their scorching chemistry by admitting he’s not the building’s handyman. But with only weeks until her business goes under and his identity is revealed, Dillon must find a way to convince Alexa cooperation isn’t a dirty word, help her save the shop from his brother’s greed, and persuade her that he’s not the enemy…or risk losing the only woman who’s seen the real him.

The Review.

No Flowers Required was much shorter, much more fun and a little more humorous than Seducing Cinderella but I didn’t quite enjoy it as much. I skipped the first novel in the series because at 61 pages, it was more of a novella and I prefer reading something a little longer. It wasn’t really necessary to the plot to read it, so I don’t think I missed out on much, since this one seems to wrap itself in a whole different romance rather than a continuation of the last story.

Dillion James is a man that I liked a lot. He had a lot going for him, but I liked that he didn’t appear with his money first and that we met him when he seemed like an average guy and the dynamic of not unveiling his true identity made for an interesting plot. However, I felt this could have been played upon much more. Overall, he was sexy, wise and all around nice guy which tends to be the case in most contemporaries so I had no complaints.

“No kids. My hobbies are fishing, painting and riding my bike.” He scratched his scruffy chin. “Oh and I’m a Leo.”

Alexa I didn’t particularly like all that much. I appreciated her stubbornness, but she seemed to be two different people, the struggling shop owner and damsel in distress and then the sophisticated party goer with the collection of designer clothes and I could never quite mesh the  two sides together to create one character in my brain. It’s like she was two entirely different people and she went from being poverty stricken to snooty in an instance and I didn’t like when she got on her high horse about things.

Overall the romance was fun, flirty and quick and the pace kept you turning the pages. No Flowers Required is an easy rainy-day read or something to cheer you up if you’re a little down.

3 books

16 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 3 Books, 3.5 Books, Adult, Cara Quinn, Contemporary, E-book, Entangled Publishing, Gina L. Maxwell, Romance

Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Series: Miriam Black #2

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Published: August 28th 2012 by Angry Robot

The Plot.

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

My Review.

Chuck Wendig’s sequel to Blackbirds in the Miriam Black series took to a different direction than I expected in Mockingbird and I didn’t quite connect with it as much which is unfortunate to say. Blackbirds unexpectedly surprised me and I was looking forward to starting Mockingbird however it was a little more dark and twisted than I expected and maybe could stomach. Miriam seemed to kick up the violence, language and lonely solo act in this novel and I didn’t appreciate the move away from the romance that kindled in the previous novel which I think represented a light of hope in the novel. However, I felt things were really strained in this novel and they took a lot darker approach in the aspect that the characters really looked inside themselves.

I think my main problem came with Mockingbird in that I didn’t actually like Miriam’s character as much. Before she was bad-ass problematic woman who was a little eccentric. However, Miriam pushed everybody away in this novel, she seemed to be hating on the entire world and she took a trip into the past. I think I’ll be more intrigued to witness the resolving off the issues that Miriam has in the next instalment because we’ll finally be getting to the core of her issues. I just felt like as a character she didn’t make a lot of progress in this novel, she seemed to bounce of walls and fire insults at everybody. She did make some character connections with new people, but these were all underlying with foreboding and death which makes my stomach churn at the thought in nervous anticipation. I can appreciate that Wendig does not creep around the idea of death and destruction and he shows this through Miriam pretty brutally which is why I didn’t like her character for this novel because she became a little harder and colder. However, he has to be applauded for stepping where other authors tend to shy away from.

“Each song of an album, each page of a book, every panel of every comic, they’re all doorways, little escape hatches where Miriam can flee the sad shadows of this life.”

Louis is a character that seemed to make some development in this novel with uncovering some of his issues with Miriam. However again, we’re still not at the bottom of his problems and I hope he returns to resolve these because just like Miriam his life is full of problems. Wendig certainly doesn’t sprinkle fairy dust over people and Louis has lots of demons I feel still left to fight, so I hope we haven’t seen the back of him.

Nevertheless what I did love was the return of the crass humour and eccentric behaviour that occurred in Mockingbird that so reminded me of Blackbirds which was a new venture for me into a book I probably wouldn’t usually read. Mockingbird is not for the faint-hearted and if you are a little queasy or put off my bad language, death and lots of violence I would suggest avoiding this series all-together. However if you want something that delves into the darkness of humanity, something crazy with talking-birds, visions, death warnings and all kinds of crazed happenings then Mockingbird and Blackbirds are the perfect book for you. I think Wendig manages to develop his very own genre with these two books that isn’t alike anything I’ve read and this unique nature that he brings is a reason that I still manage to enjoy this book.

One thing I did love about Mockingbird were the chapter titles. They always manage to make me chuckle and I think Wendig has something very new and encapsulated Miriam’s character perfectly who is our protagonist and narrator and I think this engages your attention before the chapter even begins to keep reading and explore further into the mind of Miriam Black.

“Lords of Google, Hear my Plaintive Cries.”

Despite not enjoying Mockingbird as much as the first novel in the Miriam Black series, I will be continuing with it and looking out for what exciting adventure comes next because dark and gritty this series is and I think it still manages to be innovative and exploring into the dark nature that lays latent in so many books.

*quotes taken from an uncorrected arc copy so may change on the original version provided through NetGalley from Angry Robot.

3.5 books

Extra Nerdy

Chuck Wendig has a rather awesome blog that runs under the name terribleminds and there are lots of cool features over there with short stories he has free and all about his other work in the world of gaming, writing novels and short stories and screenplays. A very cool guy. He also has lots of interesting, awesome pictures on his blog too. terrible minds

6 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Be Still

Be Still

Be Still by Tania L. Ramos

Genre: General-fiction, Romance, Adult

Published: Published May 19th 2012 by iuniverse

World-renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Jack Silver has been through hell and back. After he and his wife, Shannon, lose their daughter when she is just three days old, their family is left shattered. The effects of the tragedy are devastating. Shannon withdraws from the family while harbouring a dark secret. Jack emotionally abandons his wife and surviving teenage son, Travis, and dives into his work. But years later, on the exact anniversary of her daughter’s death, Shannon is killed by a speeding motorist under peculiar circumstances. As he grieves next to his wife’s lifeless body, Jack makes the fateful decision to lock away his faith and hope forever.

In a futile attempt to preserve his wife’s memory, Jack hides the bleak facts of Shannon’s death from Travis. As more time passes, the already strained relationship between father and son becomes estranged. Desperate to alleviate his loneliness, Jack befriends the young and witty Dr. Christina Amity-while hiding troubling symptoms that seem to increase by the day. But when Jack receives a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Amity, everything changes.

My Review:

Heart-breaking and gripping, this is a tale of sorrow, pain and redemption. Ultimately general-fiction isn’t my favourite thing, generally because it’s sad and full of hurt and too close to real life. I prefer to escape into a fantasy world where I can immerse myself in something entirely unreal. However, there was something quite poignant about Ramos’ novel. It really had lots of twists and turns. At points I felt like Ramos needed to reign things in a little and it was outstretching too far into the absurd for reality, but mainly the novel was kept on track and really drove with a painful father/son relationship that had lots of deep rooted issues at the basis. I think this novel certainly had the epitome of problems that wasn’t built up into being nothing and I found I could appreciate that more. I do feel a little more conciseness could have served to allow this novel to flourish a little more, but overall it was a solid, emotive piece.

“There was still unfinished business; that was the most he could acknowledge for fact. Still demons in his head to fight. Still reflections in the mirror that haunted his waking hours.”

There was definitely a deeper emotional level to ‘Be Still’ that I wasn’t quite expecting. I gathered it would be an emotional journey, but it really did reach into some real issues with wellbeing and sanity and the realms of heaven and hell. I guess the religious touches pushed me away from liking this novel since I tend to stray away from them, but I could appreciate the otherworldly aspects. I also felt that the development between Jack and his son, Travis was working, but it would have served better to have a different resolution to the end because it didn’t quite feel closed. However as characters the growth was clear to see and I think Ramos really worked wonders on this. The characterisation was clear and whilst I felt scenes and characters were a little jumpy in behaviour at times, I could definitely interact and get a feel of the characters.

“Yeah, I know, busy. Do you ever just stop and be still? Ignore the banter in your head and be still? I promise, it’ll change your life.”

The title definitely links into the novel and some might argue Ramos overdoes the ‘Be Still’ again on occasions, but I liked the reminder to the title and the connections Ramos tried to make. It felt like a centre for the novel to revolve around more.

Definitely ‘Be Still’ is a novel that tissues are most needed for, a strong heart and an iron will to plough on even at the toughest times. On the other hand, we develop a beautiful dynamic between Travis and Dr. Amity who develop a relationship that whilst it has its turbulence serves to add lighter moments and a little romance blossoming never fails to melt the heart and endear. At times you will want to bash their heads together and at times you will wonder how schizophrenic they’re going to behave, but despite the dysfunctional behaviour they work and it’s quirky and cute and I liked it.

Overall, I think Ramos has a good general-fiction novel that I enjoyed and whilst I probably wouldn’t read it again, I’d recommend you to try it out if you like general-fiction otherwise it probably wouldn’t be your cup of tea. I think this book is definitely designed for a specific audience, but it’s good nevertheless!

3.5 books

More stalking available here:

7 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, E-book, General, iuniverse, Romance, Tania L. Ramos