Category Archives: 4 Stars

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Razorland #1)

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Razorland #1)Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland
Published by Macmillan, Square Fish on April 11th 2011
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 259
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars

Enclave was a really awesome read about ZOMBIES. I’m pretty obsessed with zombies at the moment, so this was facilitating my zombie love because they were a significant part of the novel. However it wasn’t like most zombie apocalypse books, where the entire book is about surviving the zombies. Zombies, or “Freaks”, were a big part of the plot, but there were a lot of other obstacles the characters had to overcome.

Deuce is part of an enclave underground and has been training her whole life to become a Huntress. They patrol the grounds, learn to fight and keep the Freaks away from the enclave. No one in the enclave has been aboveground because if they do, they believe they will die.

Deuce reminded me of Katniss, because of her slight unfeeling nature toward some things. She’s slightly ignorant towards people and doesn’t have a lot of emotional intelligence. However, I did like her, and simply felt sorry for her in some instances. She’s been living underground her whole life, and random things would crop up sometimes that seem obvious to us, but a revelation to her. Things she never knew about, like what chocolate was. C’mon. NOT KNOWING WHAT CHOCOLATE IS. I have to admit, that stood out to me more than some of the other instances.

The entire community of the enclave is corrupt and downright awful. Understandably though. None of the people brought up there were taught differently. Still, I did wonder why none of them actually though for themselves! Their whole community was a bunch of sheep, not questioning anything. The fact that they were underground, meant they had no idea of what was surreal. They could have been told marshmallows fell from the sky and believed it.

This is a book I’ve not heard much about but really recommend. The world is completely different and interesting. I read a whole book on it, yet I could read two more and still be fascinated. The characters have room for growth, and even developed in this instalment. I’m really interested to read about how Deuce changes, but also the more minor characters. There’s even enough romance to satisfy me, but again, there was this reminder of The Hunger Games and similarities between the two. I’m not going to delve into that now though, it’s complicated to explain, but if you’ve read it, comment and tell me if you understand! The only thing that was really lacking throughout Enclave was humour. The lack of humour gave this novel a brittle edge, and was hard to read at times because it’s so bleak.

Rating: 4 stars.

 

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Mini Reviews: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton and Slammed by Colleen Hoover

by Alice Clayton, Colleen Hoover
Published by Omnific, Self-Published Genres: New Adult
Source: Bought

The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight…

Wallbanger, now this was interesting concept. It was pretty refreshing to read a more adult romance-y book. I’ve heard lots of recommendations about this, but was put off by the blurb. I simply don’t think it’s as witty as it wants to be. Sorry. However, I was pretty busy when reading this, and wanted something easy to read that I didn’t have to commit to and this was pretty perfect. The romance builds from the main characters hating each other, to friendship, to love. I really enjoyed all of the stages and how they grew to be the perfect couple. Simon and Caroline seemed to fit really well and I just loved reading about them.

I thought Wallbanger was funny (if a bit hit and miss at times), romantic and I thought Simon was pretty awesome and funny. It was great to read two people who didn’t take things too seriously, as some books are so melodramatic at times.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Poetry is very prominent in Slammed, and although I wasn’t the biggest fan of poetry before, this book has made me realise that I haven’t read the kind of poetry I like yet. It blended really well into the romance and sad storyline. There’s an element of forbidden love here, not something I was massively keen on, but it ended up working out pretty well.

There’s a student-teacher relationship, something I don’t tolerate and think is creepy (with exception to Vampire Academy), but Will is only 21, and working as a teacher to pay the bills. His parents died and he’s had to take care of his younger brother since he was 18. I felt for his situation, which was ultimately awful, but Will’s utter love for Caulder was so nice to read.

These were some great New Adult novels, it was fun to explore this genre a bit more, and I will carry on looking for more great NA  novels.

Rating: 4 Stars

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Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie WestThe Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Published by HarperCollins, HarperTeen on July 2nd 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Caymen and her mother live in an apartment behind their doll shop. Caymen’s mother (Susan) has issues with rich people. When Susan was young, she became pregnant and was given hush money from her boyfriends parents to keep quiet about it and disappear. Her boyfriend left without a backwards glance and her parents disowned her–this caused her hate for rich people. Susan believes that they have short attention spans and only care about appearance. I always thought this premise was kind of naive, because it’s such a massive generalisation and doesn’t make much sense. However, this affects how Caymen perceives people and when an attractive, rich guy walks into her mother’s doll shop, she knows not to get too interested.

Caymen’s sarasm and dry humour is practically identical to mine–except she’s way more witty than me! She’s so deadpan that sometimes people can’t figure out if she’s being sarcastic. Her reaction to Xander was actually really funny, and the book continues in this amusing fashion, with funny remarks on every page. Xander is not my favourite book boyfriend but he was really sweet and he got Caymen and her character. They were both a little lost and didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives. Caymen is really poor and trying to keep the doll shop afloat with her mother, and Xander is R.I.C.H. (seriously rich) and his dad expects him to take over his hotel business–something he doesn’t want to do.

The romance was full of miscommunication, doubt and insecurities. It was really interesting to see how the amount of money someone earns divides social groups in such a huge way. Caymen lives in a fairly small town and she hadn’t even met Xander before, because he obviously hangs around in completely different social circles and goes to private school. Caymen only really has one friend, but a sweet, genuine friend at that. The romance isn’t sizzling, which is what disappointed me the most. It didn’t make me want to fan myself or want to dive in the book and marry Xander because he’s so amazing. However, I felt like Caymen and Xander had a really great connection, in that they understood what the other needed, and got each other like no one else. That’s what made the romance special to me, but no, I will not be adding Xander to the top of my book boyfriends list, despite how awesome his name is.

The Distance Between Us was a really great read but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Pivot Point (something Kasie West has also written).  I would recommend it, because the premise was different and entertaining, with a hilarious MC and fairly intense storyline.

Rating: 4 Stars.

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Review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

Review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel HarropThe Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop
Published by Hot Key Books on November 7th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
THE ISOBEL JOURNAL is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

*This book was given to me for review purposes by Hot Key Books, this does not affect my review in any way*

The Isobel Journal is a book filled with drawings, captions and photographs by Isobel Harrop, to illustrate her life. I’d never read this kind of journal-style book before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s a style of book that I loved and will search for more of in the future. I was reading it when I was in exam mocks period, and it thoroughly cheered me up and made me forget all the stresses I had going on! There is something about this book that is so endearing and I’ve re-read it many times since my first read. Harrop’s voice is one that any teenager can relate to and enjoy. It’s the kind of book where you can sit down, get comfy, and drink a cup of tea whilst looking at the pretty pictures and funny writing.

The pictures are in the style of a scarp-book drawn by Isobel Harrop with observations about daily life and random comments. I found it so interesting to read about another teenager in this kind of format. It was quirky, refreshing and such fun to read through!

I really loved stepping outside my usual fiction reads and sitting down with this one!

Rating: 4 Stars!

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Review: Keeping Her by Cora Carmack (Losing it #1.5)

Review: Keeping Her by Cora Carmack (Losing it #1.5)Keeping Her by Cora Carmack
Series: Losing it #1.5
Published by Ebury Press on August 13th 2013
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 176
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Garrick Taylor and Bliss Edwards managed to find their happily-ever-after despite a rather . . . ahem . . . complicated start. By comparison, meeting the parents should be an absolute breeze, right?

But from the moment the pair lands in London, new snags just keep cropping up: a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be, more than one (mostly) minor mishap, and the realization that perhaps they aren't quite as ready for their future as they thought.

As it turns out, the only thing harder than finding love is keeping it.

I really loved Losing it and I adore Garrick and Bliss. Keeping Her was a really cute ending to their lovely story. Garrick takes Bliss to England (specifically London) to meet his parents. There isn’t much to say because it’s a small story, and I’ve already professed my love for this couple already. I read it straight after Losing it because I wanted to continue this sweet love story.

I really loved the way Carmack handled the relationship between Bliss and Garrick’s mother. It started off as fairly cliche and uninteresting. However, as the story went on, things became different and therefore more intriguing. I enjoyed seeing Garrick and Bliss’s relationship being tested as well, because it’s always fun to see what happens after the HEA and how they act when things get tough.

We get to meet some of Garrick’s London school friends who I found really funny and brought some humour to the short story. Also, once again it’s in dual POV, therefore we get to know what’s going on in Garrick’s head! It’s fun to be inside Garrick’s head, but I connect with Bliss’s character so much. Her embarrassing moments and neuroticism are so realistic and it makes me adore her character.

Overall, it was a really sweet story and something I greatly enjoyed. If you haven’t read Losing it, I urge you to discover the amazingness of Bliss and especially Garrick. Then follow it up with Keeping Her! These books have really made me more confident in reading New Adult novels, because I’d never read them before. So read them if you’re thinking of trying out this genre!

Rating: 4 Stars

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Review: Losing it by Cora Carmack

Review: Losing it by Cora CarmackLosing it by Cora Carmack
Published by Ebury Press on 12th October 2012
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 204
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, Bliss Edwards decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible - a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She'd left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.
Buy the Book from Amazon UK

Losing it was one of my first New Adult reads and it didn’t disappoint. Don’t let the weirdo cover put you off, because it’s a cute book. I was really in the mood for something light and fluffy, and this delivered. The premise was fun: Bliss Edwards is  virgin and sets out to lose her virginity in a one-night stand. That one night stand plan ends with a gorgeous naked man in Bliss’ bed, and her running out claiming she needs to pick up her cat from the vet. Then, the following Monday, she recognizes her new college professor is said gorgeous naked man.

I really enjoyed reading this. I was slightly wary about the premise of someone losing their virginity after reading Popping the Cherry by Aurelia Bowl. I felt the execution wasn’t very good in that one. However, Losing it was handled really tastefully and in a fun way. I read it just before my mocks as well, so it put me in a happy mood. It’s the kind of book that leaves you feeling satisfied and like you’ve eaten a really delicious, fulfilling meal!

I liked the setting in college. I’ve heard about New Adult bridging the gap between YA and Adult Romance, but it’s incredibly interesting to see how each genre is actually considerably different. Despite people claiming all three are the same thing, it’s not true. Bliss was a likeable, realistic adult who was a really funny character to follow. Garrick was awesome. Together they made a cute pair and I liked the way they interacted.

Cora Carmack is quite known for her success in indie publishing. Losing it was Carmack’s debut novel published in December 2012. She published it herself with no help in marketing and so on. However, she still managed to get #36 in Kindle Contemporary Romance and other notable successes. This is pretty amazing for someone simply publishing through Amazon with no paper copies or anything. Good for you Carmack! I’ve added Carmack to my metal list of authors to look out for, and will be exploring more New Adult–namely J Lynn aka Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Rating: 4 stars!

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Review: Acid by Emma Pass

Review: Acid by Emma PassAcid by Emma Pass
Series:
Published by Corgi Childrens on 25 April 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 431
Format: Paperback
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.
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I really enjoyed this Dystopia world, I thought it was interesting and engaging. Jenna is the protagonist and I really enjoyed the amount of times she changes identities and goes undercover, because it’s not something I read often in YA. Surgeons entirely change her face’s appearance at least twice, which seemed offhanded and casual; and even though it’s possible to do so in the present day, I’ll admit that it threw me a bit. Jenna is your typical Dystopia heroine–strong, and fought for her beliefs to stay alive. She didn’t really have any choice. In the second half is where I found Jenna to be the most brave and courageous, I can’t say anything without spoiling it, but it was a really interesting plot twist that changed my out-look on the story.

The plot and overall conflict of Acid was intriguing, but I think at times the characters were lacking a little bit in the depth department, simply because everything was fast paced and happening so quickly. It never really slowed down enough to focus on minor details or the complexity of Jenna or anyone else’s character. However, it was a gripping novel, full of twists and turns, with scene changes and also slow, tense parts that kept me reading.

There is a little bit of romance, but not huge amounts, but enough to satisfy me, because I like my under-lying romance. If there were any more, it would seem forced, as there aren’t many opportunities in Acid for there to be many romantic scenes.

Acid is very fast-paced, there’s always something happening and Jenna is always on the move or undercover. The Dystopia world was fairly extensive, and had very interesting elements to it. Once reached the age of 16, teenagers are required to be partnered with a random person of the opposite sex to live with the rest of their lives and they’re called ‘Life Partners’. Eventually, the couple get a notification to say that they are ready to have a baby, and that’s that. People don’t think anything of it, it’s simply the norm. Note: opposite sex, no same-sex relations at all, and it always makes me sad to see society go back a couple of steps from where we are now. I find that in a lot of Dystopia books, life is restricted like this and the new government controls them. Every aspect of people’s lives were monitored and listened to, with England having been completely cut off from any other countries and all citizens ignorant on what life is like outside of our small country.

It was extremely refreshing to read a book set in the UK, and I was so glad to read another UKYA book! Lucy at Queen of Contemporary is always insisting we read more UKYA books, and I know I don’t read enough. I’m trying to support books written by UK authors, as well as books that aren’t American, because I read a lot of books written by American authors.

I seriously recommend Acid, if you’re on a Dystopia trip right now. It is a standalone novel, so no pesky wait for another book; it’s gripping and you don’t have to invest loads into it, because you know it’s going to wrap-up nicely.

Rating: 4 Stars

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Review: Shadows by Paula Weston (The Rephaim #1)

Review: Shadows by Paula Weston (The Rephaim #1)Shadows by Paula Weston
Series: The Rephaim
Published by Indigo, Text on July 2nd 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 388
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn.

And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?

Fast-paced and gripping, Shadows, the first book in the Rephaim series, is a standout paranormal romance for fans of Richelle Mead and Cassandra Clare.

 

I was not expecting to enjoy Shadows as much as I did because I’ve had a bad experience with Angel novels lately, however it was very enjoyable.

Shadows was so easy to read, not only was the book nice and floppy–I like floppy books!–but I would get immersed in this world and later realise that I’d read 150 pages or so, which is a lot for a slow reader like me.

I love books where you’re thrown into a story because there’s a lot about the characters past that you don’t know. It also means that the world-building can go terribly wrong, because the narrator is not new to the story, yet it needs to be explained to the reader. However, Weston cleverly avoided this by having the best of both worlds and giving Gaby a memory problem, meaning she’s learning the world with us, but technically, she’s not new. This hopefully means that Weston can give us some prequel novellas and some insight into the story before Shadows, because she very carefully gave us enough information to keep me begging to know more about Gaby’s past. I desperately want to know the past between her, Daniel and Rafa; and also Gaby and her brother Jude.

Gaby was an interesting character, because she had no idea who she was, exactly. She had little memory of her former life, and she was grieving for her twin brother. Although Gaby is 18, and this could technically be described as a YA novel, I really think it’s more of a Paranormal Romance, simply in the way it’s been written. Gaby was fairly helpless in this book, because fair enough, she’s forgotten all of her fighting skills. She’s not very savvy about this new world or how to fight. I really want to see her training with Rafa in the next instalment because I don’t like my heroines completely useless!  Rafa reminds me of Daemon from Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series, arrogant and not entirely explained yet. I can’t wait to see more of his character!

The pace of Shadows starts off fairly slow, and gains speed about 100 pages in, but I feel this series has yet to reach it’s full potential. I think Weston has a lot more in store for the next book. I hope that as the series goes on, more plot twists are revealed, as there were quite a few in Shadows that kept me entertained.

I don’t think the world-building was that extensive, possibly not to overload us, but I’d really like to know more about the world.
Overall, I really enjoyed Shadows and I flew through it!

Rating: 4 Stars

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Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #1/3)

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #1/3)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Published by Walker on 3rd March 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....
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  • Cassandra Clare is extremely popular for her other series, The Mortal Instruments, especially with the film coming out in 4 DAYS GUYS. Anyway, The Infernal Devices is set in the same world, but a couple of centuries before, and instead of New York, it’s set in London.

Clockwork Angel was highly enjoyable, the world was extensive, the characters were funny and complex. I’m absolutely delighted I have another two books to also read. Although these books are huge and I’m a slow reader, I manage to fly through all of Cassandra Clare’s novels, and this was no exception.

Tessa begins not knowing a thing about the Shadowhunter world, and so things are discovered new from her perspective. Which was interesting for me, because I’d already experienced it in the modern world with Clary. For those of you who haven’t read The Mortal Instruments (and you really should) you can definitely pick this one up and not get confused. There are certain references that will not be understood, but they will likely go right over your head and you won’t notice them.

“Sometimes, when I have to do something I don’t want to do, I pretend I’m a character from a book. It’s easier to know what they would do.” 

Oh how I hate love triangles, and Clare seems very fond of them, which proves inconvenient. Here we have the choice of either Jem or Will. Jem is the safe, intelligent, kind-hearted and genuinely nice person. Will is witty, mean and a badboy. It’s not hard to imagine who the most popular is (Will), everyone loves a badboy.

Seeing the Shadowhunter world in a different time was fascinating, and immortal characters like Magnus and Camille  were also in Clockwork Angel, as well as City of Bones. I adore Magnus, and although Camille is a not a villain, nor a ally in The Mortal Instruments, I loved her character in this series. Magnus and her have a complexity and past that is so slowly revealed, I’m left desperate for more.

The plot is gripping, and something completely unexpected to me, because we’ve not seen these kind of ‘creature things’ before and I loved the fresh take. It was like the Shadowhunter world equivalent of zombies/robots. I’m so excited to read the next instalment when I have time.

I really enjoy Clare’s sarcastic, witty humour, and the Shadowhunter world, overall I give this a 4 star rating, and I expect it’s going to get eeeven better.

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ARC Review: Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield
Published by Text on 4th July 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Given From Publisher
four-stars

Goodreads, Amazon UK, Amazon.com 

Friday Brown was saved by Silence. Brought up travelling the endless roads of the Australian wilds, Friday’s past was shaped by stories, told dreamily by her mother around glowing campfires and on the edge of endless plains. But her mother’s death left Friday lost, and running from a family curse that may or may not be real. Desperate and alone in the middle of a strange city, a voiceless boy with white-blond hair and silver eyes appeared from nowhere, stole her heart and took her home. Friday is welcomed by a strange gang of lost kids and runaways. Led by the beautiful but fearsome Arden, the group live an underground life in the city, begging, stealing and performing to keep themselves alive. But when Silence returns to the house covered in someone else’s blood and terrified, the gang escape to an outback ghost town, leaving everything behind. Murungal Creek is abandoned, desolate and full of empty promises. Life in Arden’s gang starts to unravel, and the anger, lies and deceit that have been hidden for so long start to float to the surface. Having been swept along by the currents of life for as long as she can remember, Friday suddenly finds herself struggling to stay afloat, and alive. As devastation threatens, Friday must face up to her past, and fight, for the first time in her life. From the winner of the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature, 2012, Friday Brown is a remarkable story, described by the Weekend Australian as a story with ‘characters so palpable you can imagine passing them in the street.’

I’ve heard so many amazing reviews about Friday Brown from Jack at The Book Stop and Ruby at Feed Me Books Now, but I started reading it tentatively, because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. That wasn’t a problem because I really enjoyed it. A big thanks to Stephanie Speight at Text Publishing for sending a copy from…Australia!! That’s crazy, thanks again. This in no way affected my honest review.

I am a stickler for interesting characters, and there were plenty in Friday Brown. Friday was vulnerable and compassionate, but a little lost after her mother died. She was used to being on the move, never staying in one place and having the luxury of many fresh starts. After her mother died though, she had to stay with her Granddad, something that felt isolating, so she leaves and joins a group of runaway teenagers.

Friday’s relationship with Armen was ever-changing and reflected on both characters personalities and pasts. Armen was so captivating, she had an energy that made people want to be her, and Friday instantly feels drawn to her.

Everyone in this book had a story and an intriguing past, which made the characters deeper. Not all past’s were revealed, some left mysterious and that left things for the readers imagination. I liked the subtlety, it wasn’t shoved in my face, and sometimes that’s better than being told everything, because it keeps the reader guessing. I finished it on Wednesday, and I’m still thinking about the events and the characters.

Silence was a heartbreaking and amazing character, he feared being forgotten if he died, of never leaving an imprint on the world. He felt so inconsequential, especially when no one in his life has ever given him the right attention. He was just a runaway kid.

I enjoyed this book for the writing style and the characters, not so much the storyline. It’s very slow going until the climax—which is shocking and upsetting. It was like freezing water slapping me around the face. It really hit me. In addition, the prose was beautiful, sometimes I just got lost in the words. A lot of writing was on grief and death, which I could very much identify with.

Friday Brown took me out of my comfort zone and gave me deep, meaningful characters, with beautiful writing.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Other reviews:

Ruby at Feed Me Books Now Rating: 5 stars

Jack at The Book Stop Rating: 5 stars

Georgia at Books and Writers JNR Rating: 4.5 stars

Maya at What Should I Read Next Rating: 5 stars (She’s also holding an ARC giveaway of Friday Brown, click on the link!)

four-stars

city of ashes

Review: City Of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #2)

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments
Published by Walker on 7th July 2008
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation
.

*WARNING* Do not read, if you haven’t read City of Bones! There are no spoilers for City of Ashes, but there are from City of Bones. *WARNING*

Did you think it was strange that Clary’s brother was called handsome in the blurb, yet Simon was barely mentioned? Well that’s because Jace and Clary were attracted to each other in City Of Bones and then they found out they were related to the same evil Valentine. I’m a little surprised to see the turn this series has taken and I think Clare has taken forbidden love too far. I don’t understand why she thought this would be a good idea, because frankly it just annoys me. ‘Angsty’ looks across the room, because they can never be together, but they can’t help their feelings. No. Sick of this storyline, if it was anything but being related, I’d love it. The chemistry between Jace and Clary is palpable, and I have really grown to like both characters. Forbidden love is awesome, but not this.  And it’s also a bit irritating because you have this great book about gay warlocks and faeries and then…some weird romance thing that is out of place.

I actually still enjoyed this book, although the romance was getting silly. Magnus, Luke, Simon and Maia are all minor characters but I love them all. Magnus with his flamboyant but powerful attitude is incredibly entertaining, his and Alec’s relationship is something I wish was explored more. Alec and Magnus are both attracted to each other but Alec doesn’t want anyone to know he’s gay. I really enjoy this storyline and wish Cassandra Clare would focus on them more. All we get are little snippets and I love their relationship!

I’m glad Jace has an inner conflict with Valentine, because it would be unrealistic if Jace wasn’t confused about his relationship with his evil father who brought him up until he was eleven. I like to read about his vulnerability, I’m glad he’s not the perfect guy, his complexities make him more interesting.

The love triangle has a weird dynamic here, but I don’t want to ruin anything about that, and Simon is as awesome as ever, his character is a favourite of mine in this series. His geeky one-liners are present throughout.

I found City of Ashes surprisingly gripping through most of it, but towards the climax- the area where I’m supposed to be gripped the most- I mostly lost interest because one again, it’s them against Valentine and seemed very samey-samey.

World-building was once again extensive, and I enjoyed it, rating: 4 Stars

four-stars

Gameboard-of-the-Gods-by-RIchelle-MeadARCwoa

ARC Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead (Age of X #1)

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X #1
Published by Penguin on June 4th 2013
Genres: Sci-Fi, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
five-stars

 Hardcover: 464 pages

Publication date: June 4th 2013

Publisher: Dutton Adult

ISBN: 052595368X (ISBN13: 9780525953685)
Other series written by Richelle Mead: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, Vampire Academy and Bloodlines.
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills. 

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such mega successes: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

If you didn’t know, Richelle Mead is one of my favourite authors, so when I got accepted to review this ARC, I did a little dance around my room…YAY! Thank you Penguin Dutton Adult publishing house for giving me this ARC copy. *That has in no way affected my honest review—Richelle just happens to be an awesome writer*

Gameboard of the Gods completely lived up to my expectations, it was simply amazing. The world Mead has built is so extensive and intricate, with every page turn revealing new, exciting aspects. Due to this, the world-building is laid on pretty thick and it wasn’t something I could skim over or half-read, it’s something that was needed to know to understand the overall plot. That is expected in this genre, because it’s the first book, but be warned–there’s a lot of it. Gameboard of the Gods is vastly different to anything Mead has written before, with this delving more into the Sci-Fi and Urban Fantasy realms.

It wasn’t just the world that was captivating, the characters were also.  Justin uses vices like drinking, drugs and woman, and Richelle did a very good job of still making making me actually still like his character. He’s incredibly smart, and is used to being able to watch people and read their body language, which caused Justin and Mae’s working relationship to chafe because of her hard exterior. He also has two ravens making sarcastic comments inside his head, which made for funny entertainment and was incredibly creative.

Mae grew up in fairly wealthy surroundings, she was destined to be married off and give up her own athletic dreams, but contrary to what was expected, she joined the military and became lethal and agile with heightened reflexes and speed. She’s very tough, with impenetrable emotional armour, as she refuses to let anyone get close, which made her character grow throughout the book. She’s certainly a ‘Hardcore Heroine’.

Gameboard of the Gods is in third person, and as well as following Mae and Justin, we also follow Tessa. After having a couple of exciting chapters in Mae and Justin’s point of view, I was worried Tessa would bore me . This was not the case, I got to understand how the RUNA was perceived in a different, intimidating  light in contrast to Justin and Mae’s admiration. Tessa is 16 and from Panama, which has different views on women and their future, and is less technology advanced than the RUNA, so despite that it was a jarring change, she also had more freedom.

There are romantic elements to Gameboard of the Gods, which I thought were nicely added and well-written, I’m anticipating how that’s going to continue in the next book.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it!

Rating: 4 Stars

If you’re interested in finding out more about Gameboard of the Gods, Richelle has put on the first two chapters and some character info on her blog, here.

five-stars

Blood-doesn-t-lie-the-golden-lily-31636567-1024-768

Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #2)

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #2
Published by Penguin, Razorbill on June 12th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 418
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

Golden Lily Golden LilyRichelle Mead; Penguin 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

[button link="#http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8709523-the-golden-lily"] Goodreads The Golden Lily[/button]

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.


Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

 

 I actually read this on the day it came out, but I didn’t have a book blog then. Recently I was re-reading it and wanted to share it’s awesomeness.

Bloodlines was the first book in this series, and whilst it was a fantastic book, it was distinctly missing romance. That is certainly not the case in The Golden Lily, we meet a certain barista called Brayden, who is very intellectual like Sydney. This relationship dynamic was utterly hilarious, both of them were completely clueless when it came to social cues, especially in a romantic social clues.

“I was going to have to research kissing.”

It wasn’t just about Brayden and Sydney though, I can confirm there is also Adrian and Sydney scenes that made me catch my breath. Adrian is so witty, everything he says has me laughing and the way he interacts with Sydney is adorable. He’s gotten Keith’s apartment and is sorting his life out considerably,  growing as a character nicely.

The secondary characters such as Eddie, Jill, Angeline are still up to their usual shenanigans, with Sydney cleaning up their messes. Jill has come a long way from Bloodlines, she didn’t rely on Sydney with every little thing and I liked her a lot more than I previously did.

Sydney also has more interactions with Mrs Terwilliger, with her initial alchemist views on magic being challenged. Sydney isn’t as repulsed by Vampires as she once was, and she’s realised that they aren’t as evil as the Alchemists made her believe. That doesn’t mean that she’s going to show that to her supervisors anytime soon, but she treats the Vampires like actual people, not evil monsters. Sydney’s developing as a character, she’s taking action to protect herself and not rely on others. By no means is she Rose Hathaway, but she isn’t sitting around waiting to be saved by the Guardians. Many people say they can relate more to Sydney than Rose, because people don’t tend to be able to relate to Rose’s overall badass personality. However, Sydney’s badass too and is very intellectual with cute quirks which made me smile.

Another book by Richelle Mead that I loved, the storylines are quirky and funny, like the entire book doesn’t take itself too seriously, but with serious undertones. This is where Richelle lulls her fans into a false sense of security, I have no doubt she’ll rip our hearts out in the next couple of books.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) review to come soon.

four-stars

17412638

Review: Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson

Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson
Published by The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House on May 30th 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Given From Author
four-stars

Lightning RiderExpected publication: May 30th 2013

Publisher: The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House

 

For Evy Rivera, thunderstorms have always caused her physical pain, but she’s never known why. When a record-setting storm arrives on the same night her father finds ancient ancestral documents, Evy is set aglow with mysterious tiny lightning she can command. 

Even worse, she alerts some people in the universe who’ve been looking for her family for a very long time.
Thrown back into ancient Spain and tasked with killing a Spanish legend, she must train alongside Constantine, a sexy yet obstinate Roman warrior. He teaches her how to wield her lightning as a weapon, through more errors than trials. With a relationship as explosive as their late-night training sessions, Evy and Constantine battle their push-pull relationship while trying to ignore the two-thousand-year difference in their birthdates.
Ilif Rotiart, her quasi-mentor, is appalled at Evy’s skill. He would prefer to train her father and keep Evy on the sidelines—where women belong. Evy has a feeling Ilif is keeping something from them, but she must play nice until she uncovers the truth. And if he’s lying, it will be the worst day of his four-hundred-year life.
Penya Sepadas claims she’s Evy’s rightful trainer, and she has the prophecy to prove it. Penya doesn’t share Ilif’s misogynistic attitude, but she does have her own agenda…and her own secrets.
Evy must sort through the lies and find the truth behind her family’s time-traveling past before the wrong history obliterates the future. She’s spent her whole life fighting for her place. Now, as the first female lightning rider, she’ll dedicate her existence to fighting to save the world.

But will Evy learn to manage her lightning and find the truth before it’s too late?

 

Evy Rivera gets home to find her jerk ex-boyfriend cleaned out most of her possessions, so she decides to live with her father for a while. She works in a bike shop, and seems like an ordinary, curvy Latina. Except…she has always felt strange in the presence of a thunderstorm and suddenly she realises she has a set of incredible powers. She’s the first ever female Lightning Rider, she can travel through time and wield lightning to use it against her worst enemies.

Ilif is Evy’s mentor, and is a great source of information. However, Ilif disapproves of Evy’s abilities, due to his ‘traditional’ *cough * sexist and chauvinistic *cough* views that women cannot be Lightning Riders. When Evy accidently travels to ancient Spain, she meets Penya, who also holds secrets about her. Suddenly, Evy’s not sure who she can trust. What she does know is that she needs to train her powers for a specific mission, and who better to help than sexy, Roman Constantine? As they train, Evy learns to manipulate her lightning as a weapon and fights her growing attraction with Constantine.

She was an interesting character to read, because she’s not the common ‘badass.’ I read a lot of badass characters—hello, my blog name is Hardcore Heroines—because I find strong, capable females compelling. Therefore, it was appealing to read about a different type of strong and capable, not just the generic, skinny Americans. Evy’s Latina, and strangely enough, you don’t get many Latina heroines. She’s curvy, hurrah, a real woman, because I’m assuming when Grayson says she’s ‘curvy’ she means breasts, hips, etc. She wasn’t just different because she’s Latina and curvy, she was different because despite knowing nothing of her capabilities, she forged ahead and learned to control her powers with a fun, sassy element.

At first I thought Evy was all talk and no walk, she seemed cocky, not badass! However, soon the novel picked up the pace and began introducing interesting new characters and I grew intrigued. Soon there were longer gaps when I stopped reading to do something else. Then, from the moment she landed herself in ancient Spain with Constantine, I was hooked.

Despite the initial cockiness, she soon proves she’s worth reading about. She’s sassy and for someone who goes out of their comfort zone and into a completely different era, she handles it more than well. Evy also had a vulnerability to her that made her more complex; being thrown suddenly into this world, she’s a little lost, but she squares her shoulders to fight for, effectively, the future. Evy was hilarious at times and sometimes reminded me of Bridget Jones with her few quirky antics. Namely involving a horse and a thong.

Constantine is a sexy Roman Warrior, who starts off very mysterious, and Greyson slowly reveals secrets from his past. He’s strong and he trained Evy whilst she discovered the full extent of her powers. They had a fiery relationship with sizzling sexual tension, he helps Evy grow as a person and train’s her to wield her powers, when he’s not even sure how to. I would have liked to read more training with her and Constantine, but I guess the matter was urgent, so they couldn’t dilly dally. Along with the Lightning Rider, I was given the first chapter of Shadow Boxer, the next book in the Lightning Rider series and I’m excited to see where this series leads.

It’s got sexual tension, sassy lines, a sexy Roman and a fresh storyline, I really enjoyed Lightning Rider and the world Greyson has created.

Rating 4 Stars

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/3274117957/08b79377c7cc48a4cbe8457b996a9d10.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info] About The Author: From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk- takers. Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile. To find more about Jen Greyson, visit her website: http://www.thesurvivalmama.com/[/author_info] [/author]

 

four-stars

City-Of-Bones-Wallpaper-mortal-instruments-9793154-1280-1024

Review: City Of Bones By Cassandra Clare ( The Mortal Instruments #1)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #1
Published by Walker on July 2nd 2007
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Wow, the reviews concerning this book range from one star hate-hate-hate reviews to five star best-thing-I’ve-ever-read reviews. Personally, I liked it, the world building was so extensive and well written I couldn’t help but be sucked into this world, but there were character minor issues for me.

 

Clary is an ordinary 15-year-old girl, living in New York with her mum, Jocelyn, her father is dead and her Uncle Luke has been taking care of her for as long as she can remember. But soon she realises she doesn’t know them as well as she thought, and her ordinary family, aren’t so ordinary at all. One night she goes to a club with her best friend Simon and witnesses a murder that no one else saw. She meets a group of people called the Shadowhunters; they are demon hunters, and are curious to discover why Clary can see their world when no mundane should. She discovers she has the Sight and can witness the supernatural world, but she’s left wondering why. As her mother mysteriously goes missing through supernatural means, Clary turns to the Shadowhunters to figure things out and find her mother before it’s too late.

Cassandra Clare has set up an incredible world, filled with Warlocks, Vampires, Werewolves, Demons, I could go on. With world building came a huge information dump right at the beginning that was necessary, yet was not handled as well as it could have been. City of Bones was very thick to wade through, however once you get the lay of the land, there were many plot twists and turns,  and I didn’t get bored once.

The things I really enjoyed about the characters were that Cassandra chose various specific characters to focus on throughout the book. City of Bones doesn’t completely revolve around the heroine, we see other characters points of view, and instead of getting bored—which I frequently do in other points of view—I enjoyed reading about the characters. A lot of YA novels have the whole book solely on the heroine, which is quite unrealistic, and can make the world dull and one-dimensional.

Clary had a fiery element about her, but she also had a vulnerability because she was only just introduced to the Shadowhunters when she gets thrown into battles, and therefore can’t kill and didn’t have the fighting training they did. This grew weary because she couldn’t protect herself and didn’t contribute much to fights. But I can’t expect her to be a ninja right away, so I’ll let that go…other than that, I liked her point-of-view!

Simon was Clary’s geeky best friend and I though he was funny; engaging in witty banter with Jace and making Star Wars references made him entertaining. Also, I was picturing him as Robert Sheehan, who’s playing Simon in the film, which didn’t hurt. Jace was a jerk, yet that didn’t bother me much, because it was said many times that it was a facade, and although he had a haughty attitude and a big mouth, I always thought there was a complexity to him and a set of emotions no one sees upfront that he covers up. Unfortunately, I didn’t like Isabelle and Alec as much as I wanted to; Alec had his own issues and I liked that, Isabelle was ‘the beautiful one’ and seemed kind of badass when it came to fighting. But there was always an animosity they both shared towards Clary that I didn’t think was reasonable. It seemed only Jace was actually nice to her and he was meant to be the jerk, which was kind of cliché. There’s also a definite love triangle building here, which I’m not a huge fan of, regardless of the ending I believe this love-triangle is not going away. For me, this wasn’t particularly a love story but was more about world-building than the romance between characters.

Despite minor character issues, I still found this an enjoyable world to read and will be reading the next in the series.

Rating: 4 Stars

four-stars

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Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #1)

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #1
Published by Penguin, Razorbill on August 25th 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

Sydney protects vampire secrets – and human lives.

Sydney belongs to a secret group who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world of humans and vampires.

But when Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, she fears she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. What unfolds is far worse. The sister of Moroi queen Lissa Dragomir is in mortal danger, and goes into hiding. Now Sydney must act as her protector.

The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one . . .

 

This is a great series for those that loved  Richelle Meads Vampire Academy  series and is pining for more. Bloodlines is set in the same world as Vampire Academy, with some of the same minor characters being brought to the fore-front. Mead purposefully left some loose strings at the end of the series to be explored and the consequences people would face for helping Rose in Last Sacrifice. Bloodlines can be read on it’s own, but I would recommend reading the Vampire Academy series first and then reading Bloodlines.

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, part of a large organisation that help Vampires cover up their existence to protect humans. They believe the Moroi (Vampires) and Dhampirs (half-Vampries) are evil and Sydney was taught from a young age to fear them and believes they are evil monsters.  Lately, she’s been in some trouble with her Alchemist superiors for helping those very same monsters, and thus, is on rocky ground with her job. The Alchemist’s send her undercover at a school in Palm Springs with Moroi Jill Mastrano in an attempt to save Jill’s life. All she has to do is protect Jill, but Sydney’s beliefs are ingrained, and she fears having to spend so much time with the unnatural beings that she has spent her life being taught to hate.

With Sydney are familiar friends: Eddie, Jill and of course Adrian.  I got completely emotionally invested in the characters, mentally cheering them, and hating others for defying them. Every character was complex and had a convincing motive for every action, all connecting in a web of plot lines. I really like Richelle Mead’s voice, in any of her books. Bloodlines drew me in with serious events one moment and then will flip on it’s side and have a humorous scene involving Adrian’s witty banter the next.

Ah, Adrian. Where do I begin? He’s had an unfortunate time with Rose and is now drowning his sorrows in booze, cigarettes and Moroi women. He was brought along in an attempt to give Jill a familiar face and because, let’s face it, he had nothing better to do. At first, he comes across as self-pitying and selfish, but he’s devil-may-care, he’s bad-boy and his witty quips are hilarious.

At the beginning, I was not completely sold on Sydney. I certainly am now. She was everything Rose wasn’t at the beginning, she’s mature, level-headed and over-thinks everything instead of rushing in situations without a moments thought. Sydney has her own issues with Vampires and their magic, she is conflicted between what her family and the Alchemists have brought her up thinking and what she’s seeing before her. She has father issues as well, with insecurities about her weight, as she compares  herself to the Vampires perfect shape, which was somewhat her fathers fault.

One of the reasons she is such a brainiac was because her father strictly homeschooled her and this meant that she had little normal social interaction. She was socially inept which was utterly hilarious, her cluelessness made her unaware of any simple social dynamics. Sydney also had a tendency to help and protect everyone and everything, which sometimes backfired on her. Nonetheless, she was an efficient, competent woman who stood up for herself when needed and did not cower. It was enjoyable to see such a strong, intelligent character that didn’t need brute force, but had brains. Rose and Sydney both are strong characters, and I liked the stark contrast between their personalities. Bloodlines proves to readers that mental strength is just as important as physical strength.

Both Sydney and Adrian have their issues, and I believe they’re perfect for each other. Their relationship is slowly starting to grow into friendship as they begin to trust each other. They do not jump in each other’s arms five minutes after meeting declaring their love, for which I’m extremely grateful.  I immensely enjoyed the slow build-up and found it more believable.

Mead has once again created a fantastic, funny and complex world, bring on The Golden Lily!

Rating: 4 Stars

four-stars

BitingCold

Review: Biting Cold by Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampire #6)

Biting Cold by Chloe Neill
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #6
Published by Gollancz on August 9th 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

 

Turned into a vampire against her will, twenty-eight-year-old Merit found her way into the dark circle of Chicago’s vampire underground, where she learned there was more to supernaturals than met the eye—and more supernaturals than the public ever imagined. And not all the secrets she learned were for sharing—among humans or inhumans. Now Merit is on the hunt, charging across the stark American Midwest, tailing a rogue supernatural intent on stealing an ancient artifact that could unleash catastrophic evil on the world. But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the book for himself. No mercy allowed.
No rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.


After the events in Drink Deep, Merit and Ethan are on their journey to Nebraska, to fight Mallory for the Maleficium. She’s obsessed with the book and nearly destroyed Chicago in her attempts to get it. Even though the Order were in charge of keeping her captive, she escaped her cell and now it’s Ethan and Merit’s turn to clean up the mess.
It’s been such a delight to see Merit grow throughout the series and she’s now a character I fully root for when reading the Chicagoland Vampires series. She has the perfect balance of fighting prowess, a tough personality, yet  vulnerability that makes her a believable protagonist. After Ethan’s absence in Drink Deep, it was great to see him back, and along with that, the sexual frustration between him and Merit, as he decides to put their relationship on hold. Again. Merit decides to be mature, and carries on with her job as Sentinel efficiently, but she’s hurt by Ethan’s constant rejection. As Sentinel, she has a lot of responsibilities and people relying on her, and as usual, Merit took this in her stride. It’s been under a year since Merit was made a Vampire, and in that time she has been on many hit lists and overcome many battles. She’s professional and damn efficient at her job, and to Ethan’s surprise, she can handle it more than competently. In Biting Cold, we see her ‘badass’ tendencies and gain a slight look into Merit’s vulnerable side, which made her more authentic and exposed, but it didn’t slow her down.
Ethan and Merit are both complex characters, each have learnt something from the other, and their constant back and forth was entertaining, as well as emotional. Ethan was missed in the previous book and now that he’s back, he’s just as much an alpha as before, if not more so. I like Ethan’s character and the frustration between him and Merit was intense, to say the least. It reminded me how much he was missed- yet I still think Jonah is a great addition to the series. Mallory inadvertently tests the security of Ethan and Merit’s relationship and puts a stress on them as a couple. Ethan’s in a difficult position now that he’s suddenly returned from the dead, as Darius’ visit is at an unhelpful time and nobody’s quite sure who the master is.

“For now, with his emerald eyes locked on mine, where I was going didn’t seem so scary.”

Mallory was really annoying me in the previous book, and I was glad that Merit didn’t easily excuse her of the pain she’d caused. I pitied Mallory in Biting Cold, and Chloe Neill did a very good job of keeping her fairly likeable, so I assume her character will be recovered in the next couple of books. The focus turns away from her and more onto other issues with different power plays and creatures such as Claudia- the Fae queen- who Merit encounters more than once.
The plot was engaging, and very entertaining, as new characters join the fray, each with their own funny one-liners. There’s a undertone of humour that lightens the mood and makes it more amusing, especially Merits love for Mallocakes.

“Your Mallocakes may be hard to find.”
“That’s why I packed a box in my duffel bag.”
He burst out laughing like I’d told the funniest joke he’d ever heard, but I’d told the absolute truth. Mallocakes were a favorite dessert—chocolate cakes filled with marshmallow cream—and they were exceedingly hard to find. I’d brought some along just in case.”

I give this 4 Stars

Giveaway of Biting Cold, coming soon!

four-stars

Review of Cry Wolf Patricia Briggs (Alpha and Omega #1)

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha and Omega #1
Published by Orbit on July 29th 2008
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 307
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
four-stars

The Alpha and Omega #1                              
Paperback: 307 pages
Release date: July 29 2008
ISBN: 978-1-84149-794-5
Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer – and son – of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.
Charles insists that Anna is not only his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf – a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack…


Anna Latham lived in Chicago as a waitress earning next to nothing and living poorly. An abusive werewolf turned her three years ago because she is a rare Omega, this means she can help calm the pack and doesn’t have to obey to orders of those in her pack. Her life before was simply to get by until her knight in shining armour killed her pack Alpha- Leo and her main abuser-Justin.
 I thought Anna’s behaviour would bother me, because she acts like a submissive wolf and normally Patricia Briggs has quite strong characters, yet I actually liked her personality and thought her submissiveness was realistic, and gave her character more depth. Also, the chance to grow throughout the series, proving we can have strong female characters that aren’t mouthy.
The hero is Native American Charles, who has never before had a mate, but what he calls his ‘Brother wolf’ instantly chose Anna the moment he saw her as his mate. Neither of them know what they’re doing, and because this is written in the third person, it’s quite interesting to see their thoughts and the complete miscommunication between them as they find their footing in the relationship. Both think their doing everything wrong. Charles is a very dominant wolf yet his father-Bran is alpha and Charles is effectively the pack killing machine, he kills those who need to be killed.
Anna has to move from Chicago which she finds tough, her surroundings are completely different as she enters a plush house. Gone has her little apartment with sparse furniture, and instead of city life, there is a small town with a huge forest and scenery. Anna copes well with this and though Charles and Anna don’t know each other that well, I liked to see their relationship develop as they slowly began to trust each other and fall in love.
We gain insight into a fellow pack member Asil, his mate died long ago and he keeps having terrible dreams and asking Bran to kill him. I liked his different insight and it quickly became clear why we were told his past and troubles.
The plot slows down towards the middle when they are on a mission, focusing more on their sweet romance, but soon picked up again towards the end. The last chapter seemed slightly rushed, because I think Patricia Briggs didn’t want to lengthen it out in the next book.
Patricia has a series written before this following Mercedes Thompson, and she also has issues with abusive behaviour in the series, they are set in the same world, yet you can read this book first even though there are some references to Mercy. She first wrote about Charles to make the Marrok’s pack seem more real to the reader, she found herself liking Charles’ character and when asked to write a short story, thought he would be a good idea. Overall, I enjoyed the book and the character building, and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.
I give this 4 Stars

four-stars