Category Archives: 4 Books

3 Reasons I fell in Love with Anna and the French Kiss Series

So it’s official, I went and fell in love with the Anna and the French Kiss series within approximately 5 hours, after finally (months behind everyone else) jumping on the bandwagon to read. My hands were literally glued to Anna and the French Kiss, which I kept promising myself “one more chapter before bed” and ultimately forgoing sleep to consume the whole book. I read the first two books within the space of a day, and then decided I needed to draw myself away and lasted all of around a week, before succumbing to the calling of Isla and the Happily Ever After. (Oh, and mentally slap myself every time I read Isla phonetically rather than Ey-la – I have problems with saying that name as much as I love it!).

Love-Potion

By the point I reached the end of Isla, this was me; entirely star struck. What on earth had I just undertaken, reading contemporary, fluffy young-adult literature, finding genuine meaning, love, friendship and just all around elation?

So here begins my list of reasons to love the series, rather than composing a review for a set of books most of you have probably read/heard about, and you are honest to god bored of reading another mundane review.

1. THE CHARACTERS

I would literally compare how I feel about all the main characters: Anna, St. Clair, Cricket, Lola, Josh and Isla to how I feel (very nearly) about the Harry Potter characters. They are not perfect, they do have issues and they may not honestly be everyone’s cup-of-tea, however I found them quirky, relatable, fun and most of all likeable. Stephanie Perkins makes real effort to flesh out her characters, give them all backstories and connect them all in different ways, despite the fact that many of them end up living in different cities. Beyond these 6 main stars, she also brings in a plethora of secondary characters to support each individual, add more dimension to their character and make you understand them a little more.

Hermione-Ron-Luna-Ginny-Harry-Neville-harry-potter-7785816-500-277

Just sayin’, six awesome characters here, six awesome characters there..

I can literally probably talk your ear of for a good hour about these characters, but I am going to pick one as my favourite. I have to say it has to be Isla, there was just so many times when I connected with her and understood her.

“Because I thought no one could love me.”

“And why did you think that?”

“Because I didn’t think I was worth loving.”

Hattie takes this in. And then she hits me in the stomach. I yowl in surprise, and she hits me again. “Don’t be stupid.”

Ow.”

“Everyone is worthy of love. Even a dumb sister like you.”  – Isla and the Happily Ever After

YEAH SHE MAY BE A BIT OF A DORKY, INSECURE IDIOT AND YOU WANT TO SLAP HER HERE, but that is okay, I did too and I am EXACTLY the same kind of person. Like seriously, Isla and her nerves (okay, I’m not nearly as bad, but sometimes I do stupid things and make situations awkward). Her doubt of herself, her continual pushing that things are not good enough (school nerd here), and just generally everything about her. Also her inability to handle painkillers – totally me.

“Oh, shit.” I tuck up a leg and smack my kneecap on the table. “Am I acting that loopy?” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

There were so many aspects that I loved, but the part that made me applaud Perkins more was that she made Isla realise who she was without Josh. SHE DID NOT NEED A BOY TO FIND HERSELF. WOOOO FOR FEMINISM. YES. GIRL YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT, GET WHAT YOU WANT AND THEN STILL FIND THE BOY LATER.

Anybody gathering that Isla and the Happily Ever After got five stars from me on Goodreads yet? Winking smile

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

And I realise…it’s okay. It’s okay if St. Clair and I never become more than friends. – Anna and the French Kiss

Although Isla is not the only book that Perkins does this in, she started it at the very beginning with Anna. SELF-REALISATION FOR THE WIN!

tumblr_mxh5sdbEjt1rs5d04o2_500

2. THE SETTING

P6261728P6261732

“looks like a fantasyland castle – wet sand dripped through fingers, both sharp and soft. Bright construction lights are everywhere, and workers are tinkering around its massive spires in dangerously tall cranes.” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

I mean, I literally visited Barcelona this summer, I saw the amazing Gaudi’s church. (My beautiful photography *laughs* – it’s just so tall and I’m so small, there is undoubtedly neck cramp here. Yes it’s also the background of my blog!). THIS IS WHERE ISLA AND JOSH WERE. I mean, I literally love the fact that I was there, and so were they (I do remember they’re fictional, okay). Barcelona has to be one of my favourite European cities, it is just so beautiful. I think this has to also be why I connected to Isla and the Happily Ever After so much more.

We’re splashing towards the heart of Barcelona. Red- and yellow- striped flags – some with the blue triangle and star of independence, some without – hang everywhere from apartment balconies, soaked with storm. The city’s appearance is distinctly Western European, but it’s also filled with colourful architecture and steep hills. Palm trees and leafy trees. Purple vines and red flowers. – Isla and the Happily Ever After

Not to mention Paris, I love Paris. It has been a long time since I visited, but I have plans to go back next year and the majority of the setting was in Paris. It is such a beautiful, romantic city. Just downright being set in Europe won me over from the start because most YA contemporary teen fiction is set in America, and I don’t mind, but occasionally, I want something different, something European.

3. THE ROMANCE

Oh, Etienne St. Clair where are you? Oh, Cricket, the boy next door and Josh the troublesome artist.

I definitely have to say I found it hard to pick between love interests. As much as I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After, I do not think Josh was my favourite love interest. And whilst I think I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door the least out of them all, I do think Cricket was my love, the nerdy boy next door who cared about Lola and only wanted the best. There was just something so geeky and loveable about him.

I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.Lola and the Boy Next Door.

I mean – weeping – somebody come sweep me off that feet with such a line? Perkins just seemed to make it so effortless when she sweeps you off your feet with her beautiful way with words, and carefully crafted romantic proposals.

Perkins does not just craft an easy boy + girl = fall in love and happily ever after. She brings in the fact that people fall in love with people in a relationship and are afraid to leave them when it doesn’t work, but why? She talks about how we might be too afraid to step from our comfort zone. How we might appear to others, but is that truly us? I think despite the fact that this is contemporary romance and at times, fluffy, there are real issues that she tries to deal with subtlety and with love and attention that makes reading these books such a beautiful experience.

“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France’. In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “Its the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling.

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I am glad you’ve come.” – Anna and the French Kiss

There are just far too many quotes to take from all these books (I realise I have taken probably lots from Isla in comparison to Anna and Lola, but there was just something magical about that book for me. 

large

How could I resist the charms of these three guys?

Okay, I will admit this series is not perfect and it seriously has its imperfections, but there is just so much to love. So much beauty in her writing.

But I don’t want to give you this broken, empty me. I want you to have me when I’m full, when I can give something back to you. I don’t have much to give right now. – Lola and the Boy Next Door

This is me and how I am currently feeling towards any other book. This is The Absent Historian signing out on a serious book hangover, after falling in love with Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and then having her heart confiscated by Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Now go read it if you haven’t already.

14 Comments

Filed under 2010 Publication, 2011 Publication, 2014 Publication, 4 Books, 4.5 Books, 5 Books, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, Dutton, E-book, Romance, Stephanie Perkins, Young Adult

How Beauty Saved the Beast

How Beauty Saved the Beast

How Beauty Saved the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight #2

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: February 11th 2013 by Carina Press

*mild spoilers for book one

The Plot

Jolie Benoit left her old life behind to become an agent of the Underlight. Training under Sergeant Wesley Haukon, she’s honing her combat skills, all the while coping with the intense sexual attraction she feels for Hauk. She keeps their friendship casual, but when his high school sweetheart transfers into their division, Jolie finds herself grappling with jealousy.

The Underlight gave Hauk a purpose, but he can’t escape his past completely. The physical and emotional scars from the fire that killed seven fellow Army Rangers will mark him forever. Jolie sends his protective instincts into overdrive, but he’s convinced he’ll never be worthy of her love.

Hauk is determined to keep Jolie from harm. But when the Order of Ananke ambushes them with a new weapon that neutralizes Hauk, making him vulnerable, it’s Jolie who must tap into her hidden strengths to rescue him—or risk losing him forever…

My Review

How Beauty Saved the Beast picks up seamlessly from the end of How Beauty Met the Beast. There is a short time gap between the two, but one that enables the plot to be driven on without being hindered by confusion of recapping the events in between. Again, How Beauty Saved the Beast has a very pacey plot line that continues to engage my attention as the reader and build upon the events of the last novel, bringing in more information about the world and the characters and serving to heighten my all around experience of the Underlight.

Admittedly my first thoughts are to the cover which I enjoy so much more than the previous one. The Beast on the front appears to have no visible scarring on his face which is a little annoying, he does seem to fit the kind of figure I would imagine and Beauty’s presence in the back fits much more with the ideal I imagined than the first appearance. The dark blue and light blue fit the mood of the text and bring out the vivid red of Beauty’s hair, so I think Garren really captured the essence of the characters in this cover.

In terms of character development, we’d already gained a good grasp of both Beauty (Jolie) and the Beast (Hauk) in the previous novel, and Garren continued to build on these as both individuals exploring themselves and who they were, but together. She helped to build their relationship based upon communication and things they did together. This displayed the foundations of an emotional connection that whilst didn’t push through directly to lead the novel, had a strong enough presence to see that friendship came as part of the building. I liked that these two valued each other and regarded each other in terms of friends, because in terms of character growth it allowed themselves to look a little deeper at their own characteristics and attitudes. I think this was seen in Jolie’s acceptance of Hauk’s appearance more than anything else, which is probably to be expected, but it wasn’t cliché, it was more natural which I liked.

He had no hair at all and marked where his eyebrows should be with four curved barbells on each side. He had no tattoos on his face, but his skull had her favourite one, a phoenix rising from a fire at the top of his spin, her colourful wings encircling his head and her beak touching his forehead, right where a priest would place a blessing. It was an incredible piece of art, and must have hurt like a mother to have been done entirely on bone like that.

Now when I say that the romance doesn’t overshadow the plot, there are definitely still some very sweet and tension filled moments between the pair that only added to my enjoyment of the overall plotline. So for romance lovers out there, don’t worry because Garren knows how to deliver in the romance department!

Her lips were soft enough, fascinating enough to keep him happy for hours. Jolie wasn’t some quick hook-up. Touching her wasn’t some itch that just needed scratching. She was the real thing. She needed to know that. He needed to treat her like that. They had time to learn each other right.

The plot depth only gets more complicated and even more unexpected since the first book which I really liked because I never knew what to actually expect. Garren makes some really unique ideas, legends and political wars to bring together a novel of some great originality that also manages to be action-filled with fight scenes, rescues (which is pretty obvious given the title) and bomb-shells that I’m finding less and less in modern fiction. I certainly thing How Beauty Saved the Beast hypes up the plot another gear from where we first began and Garren only demonstrates how fabulous she is as an author.

In addition to this, we do get some new characters in this that certainly add more complexities to the novel. I liked how we didn’t weigh to heavily on the past events and Garren drove the novel forward with more action and characters and whilst many of the secondary characters that were in the previous book return, there seems to be something still new and refreshing about the second book that makes it as easy to read as the introduction was to the world.

I would mention that I didn’t quite feel the steampunk element as strongly in this one, however in replace we did get some magic that blends much more strongly into How Beauty Saved the Beast than the first novel. So I wouldn’t expect too much steampunk from these novels, but do regard that Garren has the power to blend, action, romance and magic and so much more into these books that she continues to build upon with new layers that make them so enjoyable.
Another good point, is whilst How Beauty Saved the Beast is urban-fantasy and not a book that looks deep into humanity and pondering the issues of society like contemporary fiction generally does; it certainly proves effective in looking at judgements upon appearance and the conspiracy theories of politics that make it more relatable and realistic for an urban-fantasy novel.

Ultimately for me, Garren has done what so many authors seem to fail when writing a sequel, she has managed to step up the game and only have me eager for more! So pick up the Tales of the Underlight series now as I promise you won’t regret it.

4 Books / 5 Books

3 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance

Dare You To

Dare You To

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Series: Pushing the Limits #2

Genre: Contemporary, Young-Adult, Romance

Expected Publication: May 28th 2013 by Harlequin Teen

The Plot.

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things.The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…

The Review.

Dare You To is a contemporary novel as equally engaging as McGarry’s Pushing the Limits. However, Dare You To didn’t quite push the same buttons as Pushing the Limits for me, but despite this, I loved it all the same. I found that I engaged with the characters and their story and after the introduction took a while to assimilate with because the introduction felt a little stilted, but from then on out the novel was a whirlwind and it kept me hooked from start to finish playing on my emotions and making me smile as well as cry. I think the reason that I didn’t truly connect with McGarry’s Dare You To as much as Pushing the Limits because I felt that Pushing the Limits had more layers to it with the mystery and dynamic that it didn’t seem to be entirely romance centric and whilst McGarry draws in other elements in Dare You To with deprived neighbourhoods impacting upon the characters and their ideals and how the environment can manipulate the individuals. However, Dare You To lacked the mystery that pushed me on to read and devour and the romance took a major part of the story that reminded me it was contemporary. Despite this, I think McGarry reminded us so much why we love her characters and how well she allows the words to flow together.

I know so many people expected Beth and Isaiah to be together, and whilst I did, I actually preferred this route to that which McGarry took and the justification she gave in her novel for her decision. I think the choice she made for Beth and Isaiah represents how well she understands her characters at their deepest level and the progression they need to become who they truly are. Beth and Isaiah I felt would have restricted each other and McGarry addresses this factor in the novel because they had their ups and downs, but the friendship I think they’ll sustain will hopefully be a strong enough bond. After all, Beth never felt invested for me in Isaiah in book 1 and that troubled me, so I’m actually glad McGarry took a different direction. I urge you to not let this put you off reading Dare You To because of the couple she chose because the direction doesn’t take away from the novel at all.

Beth is a character that I struggled to like. I just couldn’t wrap my head around her decisions because she was on a path of self-destruction from the start and I just wanted to shake her, but I guess part of this was her love for her family and I appreciated that McGarry didn’t allow her to give up so easily. Beth was a stubborn, tenacious character with a rather broken spirit and that needed somebody to help rebuild her to a whole rather than like Isaiah, I felt he would have allowed her to spiral further into destruction, Ryan didn’t allow this. I liked that Beth always stood up for her beliefs, but at the same time her proneness to running annoyed me because it felt like a cliché for a lot of novels and she was such a strong character that she had the ability she just chose the easy way out. Most of all, I loved Beth’s spunk and her fashion sense and self-expression that really made her the diverse character in the small town so she wasn’t conforming to the way people expected her to behave. And the fact that by the end on her own terms she managed to form bonds and friendships between the other characters made me smile because truly, her tale of isolation was heart-breaking! This quote actually broke my heart a little bit at how innocent and endearing Beth could be at times despite her crusty exterior there was a girl I just wanted to wrap up and take away from all the hurt and pain.

“With a room like this, I bet he buys rand-name cereal.”

Ryan is a male protagonist that I really liked. If you’re worried about not liking him, he’s an easy character to worming his way into your heart. At first he seems like the player, but beneath the surface and the POVs splits between him and Beth really enabled you to uncover his thoughts. I liked that McGarry continued the theme of POV switches like she did between Noah and Echo is Pushing the Limits because it created consistency and enabled us to really understand both characters. Ryan seems to be rather one dimensional to start with and this is why I struggled with the introduction, but I guess McGarry tries to incorporate the theme of mystery around his family, but I don’t think she achieved it as successfully with Dare You To it felt more of a slow unravelling of the plot rather than mystery. However his character built up as we went along and despite some of the things he did and his first intentions he was a very sweet, caring character and he’s passionate about what he loves; baseball and writing. It’s so infectious.  And with Beth’s help, he eventually stands up for what he believes in.

“Baseball isn’t just a game. It’s the smell of popcorn drifting in the air, the sight of bugs buzzing near the stadium lights, the roughness of the dirt beneath your cleats. It’s the anticipation building in your chest as the anthem plays, the adrenaline rush when your bat cracks against the ball, and the surge of blood when the umpire shouts strike after you pitch. IT’s a team full of guys backing your every move, a bleacher full of people cheering you on. It’s … life.”

Beth and Ryan worked well together as a couple and I thought they challenged and pushed each other to change and do what needed to be done rather than they felt comfortable with. She really makes their characters to be real and not unrealistic Mary Sues.  I think this is truly where McGarry shines when she depicts the true relationships of characters and not something fluffy and unrealistic that some contemporaries I feel play on, which is why I can happily award her novels more than 3 stars because they appear to have more dimensions than one.

Oooh, McGarry also manages to write despicable character who you really hate. Gwen is a character I definitely despised. From the moment I met her, McGarry clearly showed us why we shouldn’t like her and she continued to build the case uncovering sub-plots that related to Lacy, Beth’s friend which I think it would have been nice to have seen explored more.  There was just something about Gwen that really grated against me and I’d be surprised if anybody liked her. She was just so self-centered and I liked how Lacy saw straight through her and supported Beth in the right direction. My only annoyance was how Beth allowed Gwen’s poison to get to her and that was the only real element of McGarry’s novel that I found unrealistic. I just didn’t understand the irrationality of her actions, but I like to think Beth used it more as an excuse than anything.

“Gwen,” I say in return. Reaching the concession stand, she sweeps her hair over her shoulder as she refocuses her attention. I keep staring, trying to remember why we broke up.

“Drama!” Lacy purposely blocks my view of Gwen’s ass.”

– Man much, Ryan, staring at her ass?

One element of this novel that I didn’t like was the reappearance of Echo and Noah. I adored their relationship in Pushing the Limits, but I don’t think McGarry captured the dynamic the same in bringing them back for a snapshot in this novel and that disappointed me. I didn’t want to see them in Dare You To if they appeared different because they seemed tainted by their environment in the destructive environment and Pushing the Limits seemed to show a new direction and I felt like they’d taken a back-step. Maybe it was just me, but I’d have rather McGarry had eclipsed them entirely from the novel and not allow them to encroach on Beth and Ryan’s novel because Beth didn’t really get on well with either of them and I felt that the connection relied with Isaiah who wasn’t seen that much to say that they had such a close friendship. Thus, I expect to see Beth in the next book because of the dynamic Isaiah and Beth had.

For those of you wondering about Isaiah, he gets his own book, Crash Into You to make up the third book in the series and I’m very much looking forward to this one to summarise the little troupe, hopefully with happy endings because whilst McGarry delivers with an emotional rollercoaster, I don’t think she’ll leave you in despair.

Overall I really enjoyed Dare You To and fully expect most people to fall head over heels in love with it, if not more than Pushing the Limits, but for me, I think there was something special and new about the development of Pushing the Limits that didn’t quite touch Dare You To. However, I recommend the novel without reserve and I am eagerly awaiting the next because McGarry is an addiction all on her own.

*Quotes taken from an uncorrected e-copy provided through NetGalley thanks to Harlequin Teen.

~ 4 Books /  5 Books ~

Nerd Fact

So personally, I know very little about baseball except it involves bases and sounds like an English version of rounders. Therefore it being Ryan’s love, I thought I’d look up some facts about it.

It involves nine players on either side and you basically have to hit a ball and run around the four bases at the corners of a 90-foot diamond. With turns of batting and pitching, which I’m sure most, if not all of you know.

However, the early form of baseball was being played in the mid-eighteenth century in England with the first reference in A Little Pretty Pocket-Book by John Newberry and immigrants brought it to North America where they developed the modern version and by the nineteenth century it was seen as the Unite States’ national sport.

8 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4 Books, Contemporary, E-book, Harlequin Teen, Katie McGarry, Romance, 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

Contemporary Blend #3

Vanilla on Top

Game for Marriage

 

 

 

    Versus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla on Top by C.J. Ellisson                                Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson

Series: Walk on the Wild Side #1                                                Series: Game for It #1

Published: January 11th 2013                                                     Published: January 11th 2013

As you know I’ve recently developed an obsession for Entangled Publishing books, particularly their Brazen collection and here are two more, very different books to add to my collection. So I thought I’d try and mix something up with my review and do a little bit of a rating system.


  Vanilla on Top Game for Marriage
Seduction 7 / 10 9 / 10
Angst Levels 8 / 10 4 / 10
Fun 6 / 10 8 / 10
Male Candy 6 / 10 8 / 10
Sexual Adventures 8 / 10 7 / 10
Strong Female Character 8 / 10 6 / 10
Plot 6 / 10 6 / 10
Set-up for Sequel 4 / 10 7 / 10
Clichés 7 / 10 6 / 10
Overall Rating 6 / 10 8 / 10

Mini-Reviews

Game for Marriage

Game for Marriage was an awful lot of fun and exactly what I needed to put a smile on my face and make it stay there. It had very little angst as it focused on a fake wedding between a super hot, quarterback, Jared and struggling artist, Sheridan. They have lots of laughs and problems, but they tend to work them through with minimal pain and angst that can get a little oppressive in the contemporary genre. My favourite quote from the book has to be…

“No, not really. My grandma said she was like Elizabeth Taylor. I guess Elizabeth was once quoted saying she was in love with falling in love. My grandma said that described her to a T.”

Jared was all around sexy, he had me drooling and sighing in all the right places and he was certainly the man for me. I couldn’t have wanted anybody else. He balanced confidence, arrogance and the ability to let loose as well as being serious to give him a fairly rounded character. He plays the “bad boy” appeal, but beneath the surface he genuinely cares about Sheridan and watching their relationship blossoming is exciting.

It’s not perfect, they’re not perfect, but Game for Marriage has to be a fun, flirty read and my only complaint is it was far too short. I felt that the author could have added more to flesh out the time period because she seemed to skim over it all very quickly to cram it into the time period and that she would have gained much more in adding in a few more details just to give substance to the characters and the plot as we moved through several months in a very quick time.

Overall, I recommend this to contemporary and romance fans alike and somebody looking for a little fun.

4 books

Vanilla on Top

Vanilla on Top takes on a very different approach to the contemporary genre, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. It was nothing alike to my recent read, Game for Marriage but I appreciated the differences and found Vanilla on Top to be a refreshing addition to the contemporary genre. Vanilla on Top focused on Heather our main character coming out of herself from a rather downtrodden character to somebody with confidence, esteem and authority and whilst she still had her doubts, it was enchanting to watch her progression since the story focused around her character.

“Turn it off,” I say, with a challenge in my tone. I sit up straighter and stare into the depths of his caramel eyes. “You want someone to tell you what to do?” He nods, his calculating gaze on me as the phone continues to ring, “Turn off that damn phone,” I bite out, pretending I’m issuing a command. “Now.”

Vanilla on Top very much entwines business and pleasure and we get a lot more angst as we look at relationships, confidence and personalities and changing images, but it works for the novels approach and whilst it felt well placed in Vanilla on Top it hasn’t in previous angst novels. Heather and Tony have sexual encounters a dozen, but the real entertainment comes when they realise who the other is and how they develop from there on out.

I loved how Heather took the control of the novel and whilst it isn’t entirely my thing, she was very much an assertive woman and she knew what she wanted. I like how she teased Tony, yet again the typical “playboy” which to be honest, I didn’t really see it.

I didn’t like the supporting characters in Vanilla on Top and I felt very little time was given to developing their characters and especially if they are to be in the sequel to this as a series, which I fear they will. I found that the secondary characters changed their attitudes a lot and were very self-centered and unsupportive of the protagonists so I didn’t take to them at all.

Overall, Vanilla on Top was an interesting read and I may read the sequel, but I haven’t fully decided.

*Quote taken from an uncorrected e-arc provided through Netgalley by Entangled Publishing.

3 books

15 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 3 Books, 4 Books, Adult, C.J. Ellisson, Contemporary, E-book, Entangled Publishing, Karen Erickson, Romance

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road by Moria Young

Series: Dust Lands #1

Genre: Dystopia, Young-Adult, Romance

Published: June 2nd 2011 by Scholastic

The Plot.

“I ain’t afeared of nuthin.”

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

She races across the cruel dustlands to find him.

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

She must silence her heart to survive.

Blood will spill.

The Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 books

Extra Nerdy

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

19 Comments

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

Play of Passion

Play of Passion

Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

Series: Psy-Changeling Series #9

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Adult, Wereshifters

Publication: November 2nd 2010 by Berkley

The Plot.

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

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

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

The Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 books


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

13 Comments

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

Rebecca

Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Genre: Gothic, Classics, Romance

Published: January 30th 2003 by Virago Press Ltd

The Plot

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 books

21 Comments

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

Wild Encounter

Wild Encounter

Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan (GR)

Genre: Contemporary, Adult, Romance

Published: September 9th 2012 by Entangled Publishing

A wildlife release mission in Africa turns deadly when the convoy is hijacked by smugglers, and veterinarian Clare Delaney is taken hostage. Terrified for her life and her animals, the intrepid Clare establishes a rapport with the man she believes is the criminals’ leader, and reluctantly finds herself under his protection…and falling hard for the enigmatic man.

Alpha-to-the-max Simon deVries sees right through his sexy captive’s attempt to seduce her way to freedom. So when their simmering attraction flares into true passion, it takes them both by surprise. Now he’s torn between completing his secret mission and letting her escape without telling her his true identity. He knows if he lets her go, he will be risking his career, his life…and his heart.

My Review:

Contemporary isn’t my usual genre, I much prefer fantasy, but there are moments where I enjoy reading it because it doesn’t require that much brain power to read and enjoy and it was relaxing. It helped me get back into reading too which was always a plus. Wild Encounter was rather surprising because it was exciting and suspenseful, whilst it seemed predictable, there were elements that surprised me and I was very opposed to putting down my kindle when reading this. It had me hooked and that’s definitely what I want from the best of stories!

Simon deVries is a character that I felt very torn over to begin with. Although he’s not how he first appears, there is a complexity to his character and his ‘morals’ had me screaming at him because he’s a frustrating man. However beneath that he is a master of seduction and when he’s filthy and playing the bad man he certainly appears to be pretty hot. By the end I was in love with his character. I can’t admit to him being my favourite male love interest of a novel, he certainly has a lot to offer. Although the Alpha side of things I felt could have been seen a lot more, he was commanding and his presence filled the room which I liked. He was just a little bit thick when it came to Clare’s emotions and he needed his head hitting against a wall.

“She’d been scared, vulnerable, and stark naked, and to his shame he’d hardened up in that moment. Not a sterling recommendation of his character.”

Clare Delaney is a heroine I admired. She was smart, resourceful and most of all brave. I don’t think many women in her shoes would have been capable of the feats she achieved and the situations she put herself in. Most of all, she did this for her animals, her African Wild Dogs who were her project and that was what made her actions so touching. She clearly cared and her actions weren’t made out of some misplaced attempt to be a heroine, she did it because of her love and affection for the dogs and what was right and wrong and this is what made her so likeable. She was a strong female protagonist and somebody that easy to like.

“They stared at each other for a moment. “Last chance, Clare. I’m serious…” This was it. Do or die.”

The romance wasn’t insta-love or immediate either, it built slowly with indications that something was brewing between the pair and it blossomed. It wasn’t without its fraught complications but that only added to the excitement. I tend to appreciate it more when romances are far from simply achieved because it draws out the suspense and there was quite the bit of longing and misunderstandings between these two that added up to make an engaging and entertaining read. The tension and the sexual undercurrents are definitely the best bits of a novel for me and this book was full of them so I was in my element because they are so much more thrilling than the actual sex scenes for me. I liked how Logan slowly pieced things together for us and gave clues that foreshadowed their romance and the feelings they held for each other over time.

“And almost certainly a nasty case of the Stockholms.

And yet… Perhaps he’d felt it too, because he’d made two major errors, and she figured him for a man who rarely made a mistake.”

Overall, I’m incredibly glad that I gave Wild Encounter a shot and the setting out in Africa was refreshing and different. I really liked that element of it, especially with the animals and the abduction, it made for a different setting for a contemporary romance and I think this is why I enjoyed it much more than I would have otherwise. I have Rachel over at The Reader’s Den who’s review convinced me to pick this one up and give it a read otherwise I probably would have never heard of it! Definitely give this one a shot, especially on a rainy day when you have lots of time to just sit and read!

4 books

*

Nerd Fact

The African Wild Dog is only found in Africa weirdly enough and they can also be called the painted dogs and have only four toes. They make up part of the canidae family of carnivorous and omnivorous mammals which includes the domestic dog, wolves, foxes, coyotes and other such creatures.

*Extra Nerdy 

And here is a pretty picture of an African Wild Dog. I certainly wouldn’t want to run into one of them…

african-wild-dogs

10 Comments

Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Contemporary, E-book, Entangled Publishing, Nikki Logan, Romance

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

The Bloody Chamber

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

Genre: Fantasy, Gothic, Horror

Published: January 1st 1990 by Penguin Books

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

The Bloody Chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tiger’s Bride

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

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

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

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

Puss-in-Boots

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

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

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

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

The Company of Wolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 books

*

Nerd Fact

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

Extra Nerdy

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

*

6 Comments

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