Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Dark Flame - Alyson Noel

Dark Flame is the fourth book in The Immortals series by Alyson Noel. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 27th September 2010 and it is 336 pages long.

Plot
After not long being an Immortal herself, Ever is helping best friend Haven deal with the transformation. The power of being an Immortal is more than Haven truly understands though and is fully determined to make the most of her new found abilities but in doing so, she puts a massive strain on her friendship with Ever.

Friendship isn’t the only thing being strained as Ever’s relationship with Damon becomes even more complicated. As she delves a lot deeper into a world of magick that she doesn’t really understand, Ever manages to make things a lot worse than she ever thought possible. When she tries to cast a spell to take control over Roman and get the one thing she wants most in the world, it backfires, only to push them closer together. Too scared and embarrassed to turn to Damon for help, Ever spirals into a huge mess that she can’t get herself out of. The one person who can probably help her could also be the one person who pushes her further and further away from Damon.

What I thought
The Immortals is one of those series that even though I have certain problems with it, I am always really excited for the release of the newest book. Needless to say, I had this one on pre order and that doesn’t happen very much for me anymore.

As I just said, there are problems with this series as a whole. Maybe I should say problem because there is only really one thing that bugs me. Ever. I have had many conversations on Twitter about just how much she annoys me and why. It seems to me like Ever has no common sense whatsoever. She has had to make a lot of hard (and some not very hard at all) decisions throughout the series but no matter what, she always makes the wrong choice. In Dark Flame we see her making another stupid choice and not really thinking about what she is doing. After three books, I would have thought that she’d learnt from her mistakes by now. Damon is extremely reassuring when he says that he will always be there for her, no matter what, but does she listen? Nope! I guess I wish that Damon would either dump her already or Haven would give her a nice hard slap around the face.

Damon however, was just as lovely as he ever has been. Obviously I do think he’s being a little bit silly letting Ever getting away with being a complete crazy person all of the time. I guess you could say that he is the kind of boyfriend that girls would die for. Unconditional love. Always there for his girlfriend no matter what happens. Smoking hot! What more could you ask for apart from maybe getting rid of Ever? The thing is, no matter how many lives Damon and Ever have been through together, then are only in the current one now. Ever lies to Damon, goes behind his back and generally treats him like dirt. I don’t understand how he puts up with her.

When the third book in this series ended, Haven had just been turned into an Immortal due to a really hard decision that Ever had to make. As soon as I closed the book, I was dying to read Dark Flame to find out what was going to happen next with her. Haven is quite a feisty character anyway so add in immortality and you can bet that you are going to get one impossible teenager. As much as I wanted to slap Haven for being quite selfish for wanting to do as she pleased, I don’t really blame her. I would like to think that I could be sensible in her situation but I doubt very much that I could refrain from doing whatever I wanted.

Taking away my problems with the characters, I did really like this book. I felt like the twist of having Haven as an Immortal really shook things up a bit, instead of being all about Ever and which boy to choose. This new plot twist has set up the main storyline to be, what I think will be, much darker than what we have seen before. I really hope that this is the case as it will make book 4 stand out completely to the rest of the series. Haven went through an awful lot in Dark Flame and now has her life spread all over the place, not really having any stability so I think she could maybe end up going off the rails a bit and causing some trouble.

There were quite a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming at all and I loved where the plot was heading in certain areas. Getting to see Jude in different settings was one of my favourite parts and I’m hoping that we get to see more of this in future books. I think he is a really interesting character and has the potential to be someone amazing in this series. There is so much I don’t know about him that I would like to. The ending was a complete shocker and actually had me gasping. Overall, Dark Flame was entertaining throughout and I will still be waiting eagerly for the fourth book, Night Star.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll

Black Swan Rising is the first book in a trilogy by Lee Carroll. Lee Carroll is actually a pseudonym for the writing partnership between Carol Goodman and her husband, Lee Slonimsk. It was published on 25th November by Bantam Press and the book is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
Garet is young, single and lives in New York but she has a far from an easy life. Her family has major money problems, their art gallery business is struggling due to the recession and her widowed father isn’t getting any younger.

On a weirdly misty day in New York, Garet finds herself not very sure of where she is. Deciding to ask for directions in an antiques shop could be the worst decision she ever makes. When the frail old shop owner asks Garet for help in opening a silver box that has been welded shut, she can’t say no. The box has the same crest as the one of the necklace that her mother gave her.

After taking the box home, strange things begin to happen, even if they are extremely hard to notice. New York is hiding a lot but Garet is different from everyone else. Opening the box unleashes a world of chaos and now Garet is stuck right in the middle of it all.

What I thought
I hadn’t heard about this book before receiving it for review but as soon as I read the press release, I knew that it was something that would interest me. The plot summary didn’t give away too much so I was pretty much going into this one blind, not really knowing what to expect. I got a lot more than I bargained for though with a complex plot, amazing characters and a fantastic mix of evil and fantasy.

Garet was far from perfect but those imperfections were a big part of what I liked about her. She wasn’t afraid to make mistakes along the way, even though deep down she knew she probably wasn’t doing the right thing. Not all of her bad choices were good though. She had a tendency to let people in too easily, people she really didn’t know very well, and that made me question her at times. On a positive note though, Garet had a fantastic sense of humour, was witty and fiery tempered. I think a lot of this was because she was an older protagonist than most in the YA genre and at 26, she had more life experience than teenagers as well as having a lot to deal with because of her family.

There were a lot of secondary characters to keep up with but the pace between meeting them was well done and I never felt like I was being introduced to too many people at once. Garet meets a lot of interesting characters along the way and they are all completely different to each other. Two of my favourites were Will, the vampire love interest and a little fairy that was extremely cute. Will isn’t your typical vampire though and is nothing like any other I have ever read about. Yes, he is still smoking hot and so smooth I don’t think anyone could resist him but there was something else behind all of that. There was something about Will that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, which helped add to the mystery in the rest of the story. I know I said he’s a love interest but the romance doesn’t overpower the overall story like it does in other YA books. I am hoping that this gets expanded on in the other books in the trilogy though.

I loved the amount of mystery in this book. As Garet has no idea what is going on herself, it always seemed as though I was right there with her, finding everything out at the last minute. Although this frustrated me a lot at times, I also really liked it too. The way that the story is told makes it possible to believe that anyone could be the good guy and anyone could be the bad guy. Black Swan Rising kept me on my toes throughout and I liked the how the suspense was kept up.

A lot of work was put into the history of what was happening as well as mythology. Characters from Shakespeare were involved as well as some extremely well known artists. This was something that I really loved about Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange so I knew immediately that I was also going to love it in this book. I really enjoyed how these kinds of things helped fuse the story with the real world while keeping the fantasy aspects at the same time. It was very interesting to see how all of the different aspects fit together to make the overall story.

Black Swan Rising did take a little while to completely get in to but once I had, I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. It is beautifully written but what else would you expect from a best selling author and a poet writing team. I cant wait to find out what will happen to Garet next.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo is the second book in the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick. It was released in Hardcover in the UK on 14th October 2010 by Simon and Schuster and it is 432 pages long. The paperback will be released on 2nd May 2011.

Plot
Nora’s life is far from perfect. She has a fallen angel/ guardian angel as a boyfriend and recently managed to escape being murdered. Things aren’t getting any better either. Patch, her boyfriend, is beginning to shy away from her and distance himself from the relationship. What Nora can’t figure out is why. He’s either trying to protect her from something or he’s interested in her arch enemy, Marcie.

The mystery of Nora’s fathers’ death gets more and more complicated when she begins to see visions of him. Patch isn’t answering any of her questions and she begins to doubt everything he has ever told her. Without him to rely on, Nora turns to a mysterious newcomer and an old acquaintance. Is she trusting the wrong guy or was she right all along?

What I thought
After loving so much about the first book in this series, Hush, Hush, I was dying to read Crescendo but having to wait so long for it was a complete killer. Sometimes with sequels like this, I end up feeling a bit let down but that certainly wasn’t the case with this one.

I was so happy to get back to Patch. Oh how I had missed his brooding badboyness! Although he was missing from this story quite a lot more than I would have preferred, he more than made up for it when he was actually around. Sometimes I really hate how much I love the bad boys because if I was looking down upon him and what he was doing, I would have wanted to slap him…hard. Now, I never thought I would ever say this but…I really kind of felt sorry for Nora. Not all of the time though mind you. The reason I felt sorry for her was because she truly didn’t deserve to be messed around at all.

Nora goes through a lot of changes in Crescendo but it makes me wonder if it was too many. Her character went back and forth many times in relation to how she felt about different people and what she was going to do about things. It would have been nice to see her stick with one decision or one idea for longer than five minutes. I know I sound like I’m beating down on her a little bit too much here but I think she needed more sense knocking into her. Nora is slowly growing to be quite a strong character and I think she is really going to come into her own soon and really begin to believe in how she feels and what she thinks she wants. Best friend Vee was doing a pretty good job of trying to get that done though so I have to applaud her for her consistency and her ability to kick Nora’s ass into gear at times. I’m totally Team Vee!

The story barely has time to get started when there are some quite steamy moments between Nora and Patch. I was getting myself all excited when I thought I was going to be getting a sizzling YA book. Unfortunately, the passion doesn’t last for very long and the heat simmers down very quickly. I would have loved for this excitement to have been carried on throughout the story but I realise I can’t ask for everything. Even though the passion calms down very quickly, there was more than enough to keep me happy and I understood why the story had to be this way.

New guy Scott definitely gave Patch a run for his money in the bad boy department. Scott has just moved back to town but no one really knows where he and his mum have been or why they are really back. Scott’s return brings up a lot of questions and they’re mostly ones that he isn’t willing to answer. He has some of the same characteristics as Patch; arrogance and way too sure of himself at times. The difference with these two characters is that I was always unsure of whether or not Scott was putting on an act whereas I truly believe that Patch loves himself. Knowing a little bit about Scott as a child made me think of him as cute but misunderstood, making him extremely likable. I can’t wait to find out more about Scott in book 3. He had such a large presence this time around so I keep my fingers crossed that there are more good things to come from him.

What I loved most about this book was that it was so unpredictable. Crescendo has so many plot twists and characters that are extremely mysterious and this made me feel like I never knew what was coming next. Just when I thought I knew how I could trust and what was going to happen, something completely shocking happens and I end up right back at square one again. Hush, Hush had some massive shocks but Crescendo pushes everything to the limit.

I was really happy to see more of the Nephilim history brought into the story. I do love a good background and historical information added in so this aspect of the book was perfect for me. It was so interesting to find out more about the Fallen Angels and what had been going on behind the scenes. When The Black Hand appeared, it added much more mystery and depth to the story, with many possibilities as to who he really was. Along with The Black Hand, the hints at what really happened to Nora’s Dad were fantastic and a great addition to the plot. Although quite a lot was explained, I still feel like there is a lot more to come in book 3.

Becca Fitzpatrick knows how to write a bloody good cliff-hanger. I thought the ending to Hush, Hush was pretty awesome but this cliff-hanger blew the other one out of the water. I would never have seen this ending coming in a million years and I sat staring at the book for a good while after finishing it. I was in a little bit of a state of shock I think, wondering how Becca could have done this to us all. Trust me, you will not be prepared for this ending.

Crescendo is so superior to Hush, Hush that it is quite insane. I really enjoyed the first book but was 100% in love with Crescendo. It is a rollercoaster ride of emotion, throwing you in every direction possible with a heart plummeting drop when you least expect it. I’m a bit scared of thinking about what lies in store in Tempest (book 3) if I go by this one. Becca Fitzpatrick, you amaze me!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Giveaway! Arrow by R.J. Anderson


Thanks to the wonderful people at Orchard Books, I have 5 copies of R.J Anderson's newest novel to giveaway. Arrow is the third book in her Knife series which is due for release on 6th January. The Knife series has been a favourite of mine for a long time, and it was also the first YA series that I started reading. Below is the trailer for Arrow.




Here is the synopsis for Arrow:
Rhosmari trembled as the Empress walked over to her. ‘Oh, do not struggle. There is nowhere for you to escape,’ the Empress said, her voice silken and sweet. Then she unsheathed a small dagger from her waist. ‘This will only hurt a little...’

Rhosmari has lived her whole life on a sheltered chain of faery islands. But with the Empress's power growing, and her desire to enslave the entire faery race becoming a reality, Rhosmari knows she must fight back...

To enter, just fill in the form below. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and I will draw winners on Boxing Day. Winners have 48 hours to respond and then I will pick another winner. Good Luck!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Firelight - Sophie Jordan

Firelight is the first book in the trilogy of the same name by Sophie Jordan and it is her debut YA novel. It was released in hardback on 7th September in the US by Harper Teen and will be published in paperback in March 2011 by OUP. The paperback is 336 pages long.

Plot
From an early age, Jacinda knew she wasn’t like other girls, not even like her twin sister. Being a draki, a descendent of dragons, Jacinda knows that her every move is being watched and not always by her own kind. Hunters are constantly trying to get rid of the draki race and Jacinda knows that one wrong move could mean a whole lot of trouble. Not really thinking before she acts, Jacinda breaks the biggest rule and puts her life in extreme danger. A danger that a strange, beautiful draki hunter saves her from. Jacinda’s mother knows what kind of punishment the ‘pride’ are planning and decides that it would be best for the whole family to move away where Jacinda can begin to be 100% human.

Struggling to adapt to her new surroundings and deny everything she has ever known, Jacinda feels dejected. Then she meets Will, one of the hottest and most elusive guys in school. Will stirs something inside her and makes her feel more alive than she ever has done before. Jacinda knows she should stay away from Will because of how he makes her feel but she just can’t help herself. Something keeps drawing her to him. Unfortunately, Will has a massive secret that could threaten everything.

What I thought
As soon as I heard about this book, I was desperate to read it. After reading so many books this year on vampires and werewolves, I was ready for a change. I had never seen a YA book about dragons/ draki before so the initial plot summery drew me in immediately. Also, the cover is stunning and I’m a sucker for things like that when shopping for books.

I loved, loved, loved the protagonist, Jacinda. Very early on in the story, she is forced to abandon everything she has ever known to move away to the desert. Her mother doesn’t want her to be draki anymore but Jacinda refuses to let who and what she really is die. She really knew herself and I loved how sure she was of what she wanted and how she wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of that. Jacinda had a lot of tough decisions to make and was often torn picking which way that she should go in. I felt like this was a pretty real way of dealing with things. I was thinking about what I would have done in her situation and I realised how hard it would have been to try to pick between being yourself and doing what you mum told you to. I don’t know if I would have been able to make the right choice either way.

Everyone who reads my book reviews know how much I love a bad boy or a boy who shows that he could be a bad boy. For Jacinda, Will is possibly the closest to bad boy that she is ever going to be able to get close to. If there is one person that she should be staying away from, then it should be him. I really enjoyed the twist on him, his family and made him different from everyone else. Upon meeting him early on in the book, I instantly knew that I was going to like him and that feeling didn’t go away throughout. It was made clear that Will had plenty of secrets and I thought that they were revealed at well paced intervals. I also liked how clear he was about his feelings towards Jacinda. He knew straight away that they shouldn’t be together and even warned her against coming near him but you know how things go in these books, the guy and the girl will nearly always end up together no matter what.

Secondary characters Cassian and Jacinda’s twin sister Tamra were just as fantastic. There was something about Cassian that I couldn’t quite put my finger on and I was never quite sure whether or not he had Jacinda’s best interests at heart. On one hand, I wanted to believe that he really did like her but then I also thought that he was just doing what the pride was telling him to. Tamra was interesting because she was the complete opposite to Jacinda in so many ways. Where Jacinda wanted to shy away and hide, Tamra wanted to excel at school and have a normal life for once. Although me and my sister are not twins, I could similarities to our own relationship.

Sophie Jordan completely transported me into the world of the draki straight from chapter one. I found it really interesting to see a mix of traditional dragon lore mixed in with this new draki race which I had never heard anything about. I loved finding out about why draki were so connected to the earth and why they did certain other things. A lot of effort and detail was clearly put into the origins of this story and race and that was plain to see in the writing. As Jacinda and her family move quite early in the story, not much time is spent with the pride. I would love to know more about how they operate and how their hierarchy system works. Maybe this will be something that will be explored in further books in the trilogy.

Firelight left me at a fantastic cliff-hanger and one that left me wanting a lot more. I am excited to see where Jordan will take the story next and how Jacinda, her family and Will can overcome all of the events from book one. I was slightly disappointed to see the action end quite so suddenly after it had begun but I think there is a lot more of that to come. Sophie Jordan had me hooked from page one and left me eagerly waiting for book two. If you fancy a change from the slightly overplayed vampire and werewolf novels then give this one a go.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller

The Eternal Ones is the first book in a series by Kirsten Miller. It was published on 19th August by Puffin and the book is 416 pages long.

Plot
Haven Moore has always been different from everyone else she has ever known. At an early age, she began to talk about a place that she had never been to and a man she had never met. She has skills and talents that she never trained to learn. She also has visions of a completely different life and these visions cause her to black out. In the town where Haven lives, everyone is extremely religious and truly believe that her visions are a form of being possessed by a demon.

Haven’s visions are the result of reincarnation. The visions take Haven on a journey to New York, a place she can remember vividly to find Ethan, who now lives in the form of movie star Iain Morrow, the man from her past. Haven has to figure out who she really is and why she is so drawn to a man she has never met. Can she really trust what her heart is telling her or will she end up trusting the wrong man? One wrong move could land Haven in a serious amount of danger and a feud that has been going on for centuries.

What I thought
First off, a big thanks to Becky for giving me this book when we met at an OUP event in London. I had been dying to read it since I heard about it and had read so many good reviews for it. Even though my to be read pile is massive at the minute, I pushed this one up near the top as I had already waited a long time to read it.

Haven was such an annoying protagonist. She had me in two minds throughout the whole book. What bugged me the most about her was how indecisive she was. One minute she was completely in love with Iain and in the next, she didn’t trust him at all and went ahead to believe the worst possible things about him. Yes, she was somewhat sensible being guarded and trying to make rational decisions about what was going on around her. I did understand that she didn’t want to fully commit herself to Iain until she had answers to some serious questions and that maybe diving straight into a relationship with someone she could only half remember would have been incredibly stupid. The rationality behind her choices was what had me torn as to how I felt but in the end, the constant changing was just too much for me.

Iain wasn’t actually in the story all that much. There wasn’t enough characterisation for me to make a decision about him one way or another. Going back to Haven’s split decisions about him, I ended up feeling the same way. I didn’t get to see enough of him on his own or with Haven for me to choose between him being the good guy or him being a complete liar and a creep. If I do read the next book in this series, I hope that he will feature a lot more so that I can find out what kind of a man he really is. I get the feeling that he is really the good guy but I fail to see proof of this as of yet.

Considering Haven had been thinking about Ethan/ Iain for most of her life, the passion that should have been there wasn’t. There were a few moments where Kirsten Miller got my hopes up for something special but they were quickly squished and everything went back to being bland again. I think for me, a tale of a never-ending relationship, a tale of a love that will last forever should be passionate and exciting, especially if you can’t remember all of the details of the past. This may be something that is expanded upon in future books but for The Eternal Ones, this department was extremely lacking.

The beginning of the story was drawn out too much for my liking. It is nice to know about a protagonist’s history and their life, giving the opportunity to really get to know them but in Haven’s case, this wasn’t exactly what happened. A lot of the beginning of the book is about Haven’s visions and the people of the town in which she lives. There is a lot about religion here and this was part of the reason why I didn’t like it. I don’t think that this much time was needed to explain that everyone thought Haven was possessed by a demon. The time could have been put to a much better use by sending Haven to New York earlier and to have seen her have more time with Iain.

Something that I did really enjoy was learning about The Ouroboros Society, a society that helps people like Haven, people who have experienced reincarnation. There is a quite a lot of the history of the society explained and getting to learn about its past and present members was one of my favourite aspects of the book. A lot was covered about The Ouroboros Society and while I loved these parts, again, I think the time could have been put to better use. I always think that the first book in a series should be about setting the scene for the characters and really getting to know them, rather than focus on something else and end up not caring about the people you should.

Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough in this book for me to love. There were hints that it could be fantastic but most of it wasn’t original enough or believable enough, especially in the romance department. If I happen to acquire the sequel when it comes out, I will read it in the hopes that the story and characters get better but I wont be rushing out to buy it. Although there was a lot that I hated about this book, there were also things that I really loved so I'm putting it in Purgatory.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Guest review - The Lost Hero

Today I have a guest review from a fellow blogger. When Darryl asked about having a guest review on my site, I was excited to be able to post something different and to read something from a male point of view. You can find Darryl's details and how to find him at the bottom of the review.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan was published by Puffin and available from all good book stores. The hardcover edition is 560 pages in length and was released on the 12th of October 2010.

Here it is, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the Percy Jackson and Olympians series by Rick Riordan. That series was HUGE (just forget about the unspeakable movie adaptation) and I have been waiting for this for months after working my way through the entire Percy Jackson series in about a month and a half. Probably, the only good aspect of a coming to a series is late is getting to wolf down all the instalments with little to no waiting.

Plot
As the story of a new hero opens, all is not well at Camp Half Blood. Percy has disappeared without a trace and things just seem to be getting worse all around with the repercussions of the last Titan war still being felt by the campers. Three new Demi-gods are ‘discovered’ but one has a past so mysterious even he can’t remember it. These three Demi-gods Jason, Piper and Leo are quickly catapulted off on their first quest, reeling from the knowledge that Jason, who was supposed to be Piper’s boyfriend and Leo’s best friend, is in fact a total stranger to them and their memories were created by the Mist (a special magic that prevents mortals from seeing monsters and other magical phenomenon).

As the quest continues, it appears that there is a secret that threatens the future of all Demi-gods and the world alike. Will the heroes stay alive long enough to figure out this secret, will Jason retrieve his memories, will Leo and Piper exorcise the demons of their past all will be revealed in the Lost Hero?

What I thought
The book was quite a read. Let me first go on record as saying I am a huge fan of the initial Percy Jackson series so this book probably didn’t have far to go to impress me. It surpassed by expectations though as an exciting read and expanded upon a universe that I already loved. This book also adopts the perspective of the three main characters, each taking two chapters in a row. I have noticed a lot of series adopting this approach, allowing you to properly delve into the mind of the characters. The Twilight series did this although it was only in one book of the series.

At first this new approach annoyed me as I expected this series to be the same as the Percy Jackson series it followed on from. I then realised that there is no point in standing still and I now appreciate that Riordan wanted to pull out all the stops and make this series unique and for it to offer something more than say, just another adventure from the first series.

The story is as intricate as those usually in the Olympians series but as always, you the reader, will make the connections a little before the characters themselves. There is an underlying secret that makes this series unique, which took me half the book before to figured out but you might do it sooner.

Jason Grace
The leader of the quest and struggling to deal with his amnesia and his destiny. I liked him but found him very different to Percy Jackson, which is reflected in their circumstances perhaps. You can tell that he does not want to be the man with that much responsibility but that he is prepared to do so for the sake of his friends. As his own back-story gets some light shed on it, you understand the trials that he has gone through and begin to see that he and Percy Jackson are similar characters.

Piper McLean
A girl with a rebellious streak and a need to constantly seek her father’s attention. The trauma of the disappearance of Piper’s godly mother has left its mark on both Piper and her father. I was also interested by her and her father’s struggle with their racial identity it was not something you expect in a YA novel.

Leo Valdez
At first I was very worried that Leo came across as the stereotypical Latin American but the character grew in my estimation as more and more chapters were devoted to the telling of his story and his truly tragic past. Both Leo and Piper also serve to show us the reader that not all of the demigods of a particular parent are the same which sometimes seemed to be the case in the original series it is nice to step away from the idea of stereotypical children of Hephaestus or Aphrodite.

So to sum up I highly recommend this book and the series it starts with one provision. Reading this before reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians would be a very bad idea as this series assumes that you have knowledge of the previous series and makes too many references back.


My name is Darryl and I have a blog at http://shaftsword.blogspot.com/

Where I discuss US TV, books, anime and manga and a whole lot of talk around World of Warcraft. You can also follow my ramblings @shaftsword on Twitter.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Last Sacrifice (VA #6) - Richelle Mead

Last Sacrifice is the sixth and final book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It was published on 7th December 2010 by Puffin and is 608 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
After being wrongfully accused of treason and awaiting execution, Rose Hathaway needs a plan. Luckily, her friends have come up with one to bust her out of jail. Rose and Dimitri face a life on the run if they cant solve the mystery of who really killed Queen Tatiana.

Back at the Academy, a new Queen or King is about to be crowned but with Lissa thrown into the running, all hell breaks loose. Tensions are running high all over the place but among running for Queen and facing tests, Lissa must help clear her best friend of a crime she didn’t commit.

Rose, Lissa and their friends must turn to their enemies to find out the truth but what if it means not trusting the people you love anymore?

What I thought
So after reading the first five books in this series is quite a short period of time, I was extremely eager to get my hands on the final book, Last Sacrifice. I couldn’t wait to see where Richelle Mead was going to take the story and how she would end a bestselling series.

In each book of this series, Rose grows a lot and Last Sacrifice is no exception. Being accused of murder is a big deal to Rose and she knows that getting out of the situation is near impossible. Although she doesn’t actually spend too much time in her cell, it does give her a lot of time to think about her life and what she has been through so far, as well as the people around her who she loves. Also, her time spent away from the Academy while she is on the run gives Rose a lot of time to deal with her feelings for both Dimitri and Adrian although I can’t say that I was completely happy with the outcome of this part of the story. I understand why Mead wrote it this way but I have to say that I was more on one team than the other and I didn’t really agree with how one character was portrayed in the end.

I was really glad to see that even though Rose and Dimitri were on the run, all of the other characters that I had grown to love were included in the story just as much. Rose’s bond with Lissa makes it possible for us to know what is happening back at Court and how Lissa’s tests to become queen are going. Rose’s friends are also trying to help clear her name for the murder of Queen Tatiana. There is a lot of mystery and action when it comes to this part of the story as no one is really sure who actually murdered the queen. One character I did find myself missing a little bit was Adrian. He has always been one of my favourites and even though he is there in the background, it just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted him to feature a lot more but unfortunately, this wasn’t to be.

There are some great new characters in Last Sacrifice although some of the more interesting ones weren’t around for too long. Rose, Dimitri and Sydney meet a group of Moroi, Dhampir’s and humans that all live together outside of society. I found it really interesting to see how differently they lived from other vampires, especially those at the Academy and those from the royal families. I guess you could compare this to Twilight and how the Cullen’s differ from all of the other non ‘vegetarian’ vampires out there. That was a part of Twilight that I loved so it was only right that it was a part of Vampire Academy that I loved as well.

One of the best things about this whole series, apart from the amazing love story, is the friendship between Rose and Lissa. No matter what happens, these two girls stick by each other. Vampire Academy is a fantastic tale of a friendship that will withstand anything and I think this is a really important aspect of it all. As much as I like my YA books filled with romance, it is also really nice to see that a girl wont instantly drop her friends once she falls in love. I think that with this, Mead shows a good message for all readers.

As with the other books in this series, Last Sacrifice is action packed and I always felt like something totally unexpected could happen next. The story is intense for both plot and romance and although I really liked most of it, it still wasn’t my favourite book in the series. I was glad that so many questions were answered and nothing was really left unfinished. There is going to be a spin off series that focuses on some of the secondary characters and I know I will be buying the first book as soon as it is released. Vampire Academy is a fantastic series and I am only sad that it took me so long to get around to reading it.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Spirit Bound (VA #5) - Richelle Mead

Spirit Bound is the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It was published on 26th May 2009 by Puffin and is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
After Rose Hathaway’s adventure to Siberia, she has finally made it back to what should be the safety of St Vladimir’s Academy and best friend, Lissa Dragomir. Graduation time is fast approaching and even though Rose is unsure of whether or not she can actually finish school, she is looking forward to life in the real world. Before she can even begin to think of what she will do next, there is one massive thing that she must deal with. Dimitri.

After finally tracking down Dimitri and being given a choice, Rose now has to face the fact that he is far from dead and now stalking her, with the promise of finishing off what he started. What Rose learnt while being in Siberia could help her a lot but the choice she has to make first is whether or not true love is worth the risk? What is Rose willing to risk in order to be with Dimitri again?

What I thought
Rose grows more and more throughout each book in this series and in Spirit Bound, she did so even more. Not only does Rose have a lot to go through physically, she also has to deal with a lot emotionally. Probably more than she has ever has in the past and that is saying a lot, considering what she has been through already. She is still the kick ass girl that I loved to begin with but she also isn’t afraid to put herself out there for the people she loves. I really enjoyed watching Rose decide how she was going to approach her problems and what she thought were the right solutions. I didn’t always agree with her choices but I could certainly see why she did some of the things that she did.

My opinion of Lissa has completely changed after reading this book. I really thought that she was quite selfish before and being as she is a Princess, I guess some could say that she is entitled to act that way. I’ve always thought that she put herself before Rose all of the time and never really did anything to prove to me how much of a friend she really was. However, Lissa really proved herself as a best friend and showed just how much she was prepared to do in order to look after Rose and to help her be happy.

I really liked Adrian as soon as he made his first appearance in the series but I grew to love him so much more in this book. He has grown so much and maybe a big part of that was Rose leaving to go to Siberia, leaving him to think about what he really wants. I did kind of love his cockiness before but I was also glad to see that being tamed down a little bit and to now see a softer side to him.

Who could resist Dimitri? He was once a strong, powerful guardian and is now an even stronger, meaner Strigoi. Everyone who regularly reads my reviews will know just how much I love a bad boy so the moment I found out he had turned Strigoi, my heart kind of skipped a couple of beats. I instantly had ideas about how bad he was going to get and I wasn’t wrong. Maybe that is why I loved Blood Promise so much. Although he doesn’t feature too much in this book, a large amount of the story revolves around him. I’m still unsure if I liked the way that things turned out but I am looking forward to finding out what happens to him next.

I LOVED the cliff-hanger at the end. Although it probably wasn’t the best of the series, it was still shocking enough to make me want the next book immediately. Luckily, I didn’t have too long to wait before I got it, unlike a lot of people who would have read this book months ago. There were so many questions that I wanted the answers to and I wanted to know what was going to happen to all of the characters, not just Rose. Normally in a series, I don’t really care that much about everyone but as well as Rose and Dimitri; Lissa, Adrian and Christian have a lot going on and a lot that could happen to them and I wanted to know their stories just as much as Rose’s.

Spirit Bound was not my favourite book in the series but I did really like where the story was going, in the lead up to the final book in the series. Richelle Mead has set the scene perfectly for Last Sacrifice but in doing so, some of the fast paced scenes that I liked so much from the previous books were missing. I felt like some parts were rushed and towards the end of the book, the story slowed down massively. Even with this happening, I still enjoyed the story, just not as much as others in the series.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Blood Promise (VA #4) - Richelle Mead

Blood Promise is the fourth book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It was published on 26th May 2009 by Puffin and is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
The recent Strigoi attack on St Vladimir’s Academy was the largest and most dangerous that the school has ever seen. It forced everyone to take note of what is really happening after the deaths of students, teachers, Moroi and guardians. Facing a life worse than death is Dimitri, who was taken captive.

Rose and Dimitri promised each other a long time ago that they would both rather be dead than Strigoi so Rose knows what she must do. Forced to leave best friend Lissa, Rose takes off on a mission find Dimitri and save him from himself. Along the way, she must be the bearer of bad news when she meets Dimitri’s family and finds out that there is a lot more to life than St Vladimir’s. The biggest question of all on Rose’s mind is whether or not she will be able to do what is needed to keep her promise to Dimitri. Destroying the love of her life will be the hardest trial Rose has ever faced.

What I thought
I have to start by saying that Blood Promise is by far my favourite in the series so far. I have really, really liked each book that came before this one but if I had to give them a star rating, they would have all been 4 stars. This is a definite 5 star book.

I felt for Rose so, so much in this book. The love of her life was captured and awakened by the Strigoi and is now everything that she has been taught to hate. Even though Rose has been away from St Vladimir’s before, she had Lissa with her so this is her first time in the real world all by herself. If that wasn’t enough, she is travelling through places she has never been to and doesn’t speak the language, putting extra pressure on her mission. I really enjoyed visiting all of the different places that Rose went to and I thought that descriptions of a couple of places in particular, like Dimitri’s house, were fantastic. I could really imagine him growing up here and baking bread after his mother made him do it himself. This part of the story made it possible for me to connect with Dimitri a lot more.

Although Rose has gone off to Siberia, her friends back at the Academy haven’t been forgotten. Due to the bond that Rose and Lissa share, Rose is able to check in on everyone and find out what is going on. I would have missed finding out what Lissa was getting up to because she has been such a large part of the previous books. Another good thing about bringing in the other characters was Adrian being able to visit Rose during her dreams. I love the way that he acts, always so full of himself but he is slowly beginning to show his true colours and let the softer side of him come through.

I really enjoyed meeting Dimitri’s family and finding out where he came from. It was so nice to see that even though they had never met Rose, they instantly made her feel like one of the family, even before they realised just how much Dimitri meant to her. I think this gave Rose a lot of time to grieve and realise exactly what happened. If she had stayed at St Vladimir’s, she wouldn’t have had the chance to do this and it would have ended up doing her a lot of emotional harm. A lot of the characters that Rose met along the way were extremely interesting, especially Sydney, the Alchemist and Abe who I hope we find out more about later on. There was something about him that I just couldn’t put my finger on and I couldn’t quite decide whether he was going to turn out to be a good guy or a bad guy.

Dimitri was fantastic in Blood Promise. Obviously turning Strigoi means turning into a complete badass at the same time. As a guardian, Dimitri was hard but caring at the same time. It was clear that he cared a lot for Rose and wanted what was best for her and I really did like this side to him. On the other hand, I am a sucker for a bad boy and I don’t know if you can get much badder than a Strigoi. I was a little worried about how this was going to play out between Dimitri and Rose but I wasn’t disappointed at all. I could completely understand everything that Rose did while she was in the situation with Dimitri and I didn’t feel like it went beyond stupid at any point. The passion between the two was very believable and even though I knew what was happening was wrong, I couldn’t help but still want it to happen a little bit. During this part of the book, I felt my heart break multiple times and just when I thought everything was over, another turn would shock me.

Once again, Richelle Mead leaves us with a massive cliff-hanger. This time, the story was left quite open in terms of the possibilities for what could happen in the next book. I was pretty certain that one thing was going to happen but a lot of other things were quite vague, leaving me excited for the next instalment. I don’t think that there was anything that I disliked about this book and that is a massive reason why it is my favourite so far. There is loads of action, passion and mystery surrounded many of the characters. I hope this carries on for the last two books in the series.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Shadow Kiss (VA #3) - Richelle Mead

Shadow Kiss is the third book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It was published on 26th May 2009 by Puffin and is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
No matter how many times Rose Hathaway tells herself that it’s wrong, she can’t stop having feelings for her training instructor, Dimitri. As soon as Rose graduates from St Vladimir’s Academy and becomes a full guardian, both she and Dimitri will protect Lissa, Dragomir princess and Rose’s best friend. Lissa must always come first but if Rose and Dimitri fall in love, will that always be how it happens?

After killing her first Strigoi, Rose is quickly on her way to being an amazing guardian but she has bigger things to worry about than graduating. Lissa and Rose's sworn enemy, Victor Dashkov, is on trial for his freedom, Rose is having personal problems and is seeing ghosts. The ghosts are trying to warn her but no one else will listen. Everyone thinks that she is beginning to lose her mind. Even Dimitri doesn’t believe in ghosts. Will Rose be able to convince her friends that she isn’t crazy before it’s too late? Something bad is coming and Rose is going to have to choose between life, love and the two people who matter the most to her.

What I thought
After reading the first two books in this series, I couldn’t wait to read Shadow Kiss. After what happened in Frost Bite, I was extremely excited to see where Richelle Mead was going to take the story and what would happen to all of the characters I had quickly begun to love.

Ever since killing her first Strigoi, Rose has had some problems. She can feel a darkness surrounding her and she’s not acting like her usual self. Instead of being happy for Lissa and Christian, Rose begins to feel resentment towards them, knowing that she and Dimitri can never truly be together. She’s getting angry at the smallest things and has a hard time in controlling her temper. Also, she’s seeing ghosts. Everyone pretty much thinks that she’s insane but after seeing one particular ghost, Rose knows that they are there to help and warn her of immediate danger at St Vladimir’s. The addition of ghosts was one of the things that I liked the most about this book and a lot of thought was put into the reason why Rose was able to see them.

Rose and her other novice guardian friends go through their practical assignments, protecting a particular Moroi from surprise attacks from teachers and other guardians. I really enjoyed the twist that Mead put on this. Rose was so sure that she was going to be protecting Lissa that she was more than shocked to find out that she had to protect Christian. Everyone knows that her and Christian don’t get on very well at all so I was interested to find out how well both of them would cope. The assignment is far from easy though but not due to Rose and Christian’s feelings towards each other. I felt really sorry for Rose during this part of the book because no one would listen to her, people only added to the thoughts that she was losing her mind.

Rose has a lot going on in this book. Not only does she have to protect Christian, Adrian is still pursuing her, her mum is at the school and then there is her relationship with Dimitri. Although this could seem like too much in one book, it was done extremely well, giving enough time to each aspect. I never felt like one part overpowered another, except for maybe Rose’s relationship with Dimitri at times. Not that this was a bad thing of course. I love Dimitri so I was really happy to see their relationship finally develop and to see them happy for a while. Both Rose and Dimitri have a hard time dealing with their relationship, knowing that it is wrong and they shouldn’t be doing what they are but cant help themselves. What I like about their relationship is that even though there is so much going on, they still make time to talk and tell each other what’s been going on and how they’re feeling.

We get to see quite a lot from some of the secondary characters in Shadow Kiss. I really enjoyed seeing Christian and Rose put together for their field experience as well as getting to see a lot more of Adrian. I liked Adrian from the very beginning so it was good to see him getting a bigger part in this book. The bond that Rose and Lissa share makes it possible to see other parts of the story that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Too many books tell a story from the perspective of multiple characters now so I think this is a great but different way to get that same effect.

I’m beginning to think that Mead is the Queen of cliff-hangers. A MASSIVE battle breaks out at St Vladimir’s and there are many losses on both sides. I certainly didn’t see this one coming and as I reached the end of the book, I felt my heart break into a million pieces. I actually cried. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry and it very rarely happens. It wasn’t just a little cry either, it was full on blubbering and not being able to see anymore because of the amount of tears. Damn you Richelle Mead for making me cry that much.

So far, Shadow Kiss has been my favourite in the series but I think that each book will just keep on getting better as the series goes on.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Frost Bite (VA #2) - Richelle Mead

Frost Bite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It was published on 1st October 2009 by Puffin and is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
After a massive Strigoi attack on the Moroi royal families, St Vladimir’s Academy is put on high alert, taking in help from notorious guardians like Janine Hathaway, Rose’s mother. The Strigoi attacks force St Vladimir’s to rethink the safety of their students and decide to make this years ski trip mandatory.

The bond Rose shares with Moroi princess best friend, Lissa, causes her to be able to see Lissa and Christian making out. A lot. Also, Rose has a huge crush on her instructor, Dimitri but one of her other best friends, Mason, has a huge crush on her. While at the ski lodge, another guy takes a keen interest in Rose. Adrian is Moroi royalty and isn’t used to not getting what he wants but is determined to do what it takes to get Rose to notice him. With all of this going on, the Strigoi attacks are just one more thing for Rose to deal with.

When a trio of students decide to take things into their own hands, Rose must join forces with Christian to stop them making a massive mistake only the mistake might actually be going after them. Both Rose’s life and heart are at risk but she sees no way to save both.

What I thought
Even though I thought that Vampire Academy was a little slow going for a while, by the time I reached the end of the book, I couldn’t wait for the second one, Frost Bite. I was so happy when books 2-5 came through the door because it meant that I could have a bit of a VA marathon.

Although I wouldn’t recommend starting with the second book in this series, Richelle Mead recaps what has happened at the beginning and throughout this book. I quite liked this aspect to begin with, thinking it was especially good if it had been a while since you had read the previous book. However, l felt as though some of the recaps went on a little too far in the main story and there were too many of them sometimes. The time could probably have been used better.

One of the things that I loved most about this book was being able to see how much Rose changed due to everything that she had to go through. As her feelings for Dimitri grow, she realises that he may be the one thing that she wont be able to have and that causes her to rethink things a bit. As well as having to deal with her feelings for Dimitri, she has to come to terms with the fact that he may not be her instructor for much longer and what impact this could have on her becoming a guardian and what will happen as soon as she graduates. I really liked the way that Rose’s guardian training came in to play a lot in Frost Bite because it really made me realise how much she has gone through to get to where she is now, after leaving the Academy for a while.

Having Rose’s mother in this book made it possible to see a completely different side to Rose. It had been made known before that her mother had never really been around for her and was quite quick to get on with her own career once Rose was born. In Frost Bite, many of Rose’s feelings that she had previously kept hidden begin to surface and this leads the way for some quite heated conversations between the two. I enjoyed these parts of the book because it meant that I got to see a different side to Rose, one where she wasn’t the girl who didn’t let anything bother her.

I was kind of glad to see that Lissa wasn’t a main feature of this book. I don’t totally dislike her but I was glad to see Rose on her own for a while and interacting with other people. It really wouldn’t be healthy for her to only have Lissa as a friend so I liked seeing her friendship with Mason grow, even if there were ulterior motives on his part. Some other characters that we get to see more of this time around are Christian and Mia. Another new addition to this book was Adrian, another royal Moroi. From his very first moment on the page, I loved him. He is so full of himself and sure of what he wants/ what he’s going to get but he also had a certain charm about him that I couldn’t resist. Adrian took an instant shine to Rose and I cant help but kind of want them to end up together. Their personalities would definitely make for an interesting relationship and I really hope that because of this, Adrian sticks around throughout the series.

I haven’t read a book that made me cry for quite a long time now but Richelle Mead has broken that now. There were a couple of times in throughout that I could feel myself welling up but I didn’t think I was actually going to cry, until I broke down and had a really good sob at one part in particular. Along with a fantastic ending, Frost Bite is an emotional ride that made me question what I thought about certain characters. I couldn’t pick up the third book in this series fast enough after putting this one down.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Vampire Academy (VA #1) - Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy is the first book in the series of the same name by Richelle Mead. It was published on 26th May 2009 by Puffin and is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
Hidden away, St Vladimir’s Academy is unlike other boarding schools. It’s a boarding school/ training school for vampires and half-human teens. Rose and Lissa, a Dhampir guardian and a Moroi Princess, managed to escape the Academy though and have been on the run for a while. That was until some big looking guy turned up and forced them to go back.

Back at the Academy, Rose and Lissa don’t feel like they fit in as well as they used to. Things have changed dramatically since they left and it seems like everyone is keeping secrets, including themselves. Caught up in romances, an ever changing social scene and a lot of intense training with a hot Russian guardian, Rose has he work cut out for her is she is going to keep Lissa safe from the most dangerous vampires around… the Strigoi.

What I thought
I do love a good Vampire series and a lot of people know that The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine is my favourite. I had put off reading anything in this series for a long time as I thought another quite long vampire series may be too much for me. I was also a bit worried that it wouldn’t be different enough to other books in the YA genre. I really had nothing to worry about though and now I wish I had picked it up a lot sooner.

I really liked Rose from the very beginning. As the story is told from her point of view, I got to find out so much about her and her personality. She’s a very feisty and fiery character even though she can be really fragile at times as well. I loved how she made herself seem invincible to everyone around her apart from Lissa. Due to the bond they share, it seemed to me like Lissa was the one person that she could truly be herself around and the one person who she would really let it. Although Rose did flit in-between different parts of her personality, I thought this was extremely well done. There were times when she acted very mature for her age but then other times when she realised that she was quite childish and petty around her peers. There were also times when she made it clear that she would do anything for Lissa, not only because that is her job as a guardian, but also because she is her best friend.

So onto the guys in this book. There were certainly plenty of talent to pick from and I found myself quite torn all of the time.

Dimitri - To be totally honest, I really didn’t like Dimitri at first. He was far too much of a soldier for my liking, being very stiff and boring for a large chunk of the book. Then I saw him soften up. Slowly, he begun to crack, little by little, and I started to see a different side to him. I completely understood why he acted the way he did towards Rose and that was one of the reasons that made me warm to him. Also, there are events towards the end of the book that completely changed my mind about him from slightly liking him, to loving him completely.

Mason - It was obvious from the start that Mason liked Rose. I felt quite sorry for him throughout the book though as it was made very clear that Rose just wasn’t into him in the same way. He was very sweet and obviously cared about Rose a lot as a friend as well as anything else. He’s the kind of guy that would probably do anything for her, no matter what the trouble. I’m not usually into the nice guys but I think I would have made an exception for Mason.

Christian - I love myself a bad boy and it seems as though they probably couldn’t get any more dangerous than Christian. He was a very interesting character because no one in the Academy really knew anything about him. Their was always an air of mystery surrounding him and I couldn’t figure out for a while whether I thought he was going to be good or bad for Lissa.

When it came to the different kinds of students at St Vladimir’s, I thought that I was going to get confused. Luckily, everything is explained extremely clearly and I found that I had quickly grasped who was who and what was going on. Rose is Dhampir which is half human and half Moroi. Lissa is Moroi which is a born, mortal vampire while Strigoi are immortal vampires who are extremely dangerous and violent. I also like knowing the history of a race when it comes to books like this so knowing who everyone was and why everyone didn’t/ couldn’t leave together peacefully was a big bonus for me. In many vampire books, drinking each others’ blood usually seems to be a big deal in a sexual way. In Vampire Academy, this is still a big deal but it is also used as a means to survival. I thought the distinction between the two was very clear and well explained.

For once, I wasn’t left with a massive cliff-hanger. Although some things have been left open for the second book in the series, a lot was wrapped up nicely and I didn’t feel frustrated like I usually do. The ending also wasn’t completely predictable. Sometimes, I feel like I can guess what is going to happen next but with this series, I feel like anything could happen and that Rose isn’t in for an easy time at all. I really wish that I had picked up this series as it is so much better than I first thought it would be. Vampire Academy has a darkness and tension that a lot of books in this genre don’t have, which sets it apart from everything else. This may be the first of Richelle Mead’s books that I have read but it certainly wont be the last.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ghost Town - Rachel Caine

Ghost Town is the ninth book in The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. It was published on 4th November by Alison and Busby. The book is 479 pages long and the UK version has an exclusive short story. I won this book in a blog giveaway.

Plot
After being allowed on a little trip out of Morganville, Claire Danvers and her friends finally start to feel like things are starting to look a little more like normal. As normal as things can look in Morganville anyway. Unfortunately for Claire, she finds herself right in the middle of a terrible situation and ultimately has to decide on taking a punishment herself of making her friends do it in her place.

Claire being the type of girl that she is, decides to take the punishment herself. Amelie forces Claire to work without sleep or rest until the town’s defence system is repaired. Even though Claire works until she hit’s the state of complete exhaustion, the defence system is up and running again, leaving her to get back to her friends. Upon leaving Myrnin’s lab and back into Morganville, Claire begins to think that everything is not quite right. People are losing their memories, going as far back as the past three years. As Claire starts to notice this happening more and more, she realises that anyone can be affected, including the vampires. Claire must figure out a way of restoring the town’s defence system before she forgets how to do it!

What I thought
I am a massive Morganville Vampires fan and would probably say that this is my favourite vampire series overall. A while back, I managed to buy the first eight books in the series on a 3 for £5 offer but as soon as I had finished Kiss of Death (#8), I was desperate for the next instalment. Ghost Town has probably been my most anticipated book of the year so far so I was so excited when I found out that I had won a copy.

I felt quite sorry for Claire this time around, more so than usual. The poor girl has been through so much and I’m really beginning to wonder how much more of it she can take. Just the thought of her all alone in Morganville if everyone around her forgot who she was made me sad. I didn’t want Claire to have to deal with everything on her own again or to be left working for an insane vampire. She really showed her maturity and level headedness when it came to the situation she had been put in. I love this side to Claire just as much as I like the side of her that wants to kick ass. As a character, Claire really goes through some big changes in Ghost Town due to how the story works out.

Myrnin has been one of my favourite characters since he made his first appearance in this series. One of the things that I loved about him this time was getting to see how he was before meeting Claire. It has been stated in previous books that he wasn’t always as sane (even though he isn’t completely sane at all) as he is now. Myrnin had quite a terrible past and was what most people would think of when the topic of vampires is brought up. I love how schizophrenic his character is normally and when the memory loss factor was added in, he just ended up being completely insane. I loved seeing how different the old Myrnin was compared to the current Myrnin and how his life/ personality had changed over the short space of three years.

Rachel Caine wastes no time in getting straight back into the story, picking up from where Kiss of Death left off. With a lot of big series, I have had to re read the latest book before reading the newest one so that I know what is going on. Even though it has been a couple of months since reading the previous books in this series, it all came flooding back to me very quickly and there was never a point where I had to think back and remember what had happened. There were little reminders throughout though as to what happened in a couple of the previous books so this will be a nice reminder for people who can’t totally remember everything. What I liked most about the story was never being able to decide on who was going to lose their memories next. It really could have been anyone and I liked the element of surprise here.

Ghost Town was a fabulous read and certainly worth the wait. Even though it isn’t my favourite book of the series, it did come extremely close. Obviously, if you haven’t read any of the previous Morganville books, you really wont know what is happening if you start with this one. The tenth book in the series wont be out for a long time yet but I know that it will be one that I will be buying on release day.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Shadowland - Alyson Noel

Shadowland is the third book in the Immortals series by Alyson Noel. It was released in the UK on 1st July 2010 by Macmillan Children's Books and it is 368 pages long.

Plot
Ever and Damen have lived many lives together but Damen is the only one who has lived through them all. In each life, Ever has always died, leaving Damen waiting around until she is born again, believing that they are destined to be together. Now, Ever is an Immortal just like Damen and they finally have the chance of being together forever. Just when they think they are going to get their happily ever after, Damen is cursed and unable to touch Ever in any way…or he will die.

Shadowland sees Ever and Damen struggle with past choices and what the future could hold for them. When forced to get a job by her Aunt, Ever finds herself working in Mystics and Moonbeams with Jude, a seriously hot surfer. As they spend more time together, Ever has the strange feeling that she has met Jude before, but where? As they spend more time together, Ever realises that she and Jude share a lot of similarities. Jude may be the one who can help her find what she needs to save her relationship with Damen but also the one who could break it. Is Damen really her destiny?

What I thought
In the previous two book in this series, I quite liked Ever but now I’m not so sure. I felt quite disappointed with her for many reasons this time around and unfortunately, she has turned into one of those female protagonists that I just want to slap. I understood that she’s under a lot of pressure to fix her relationship with Damen and un-do the damage that was caused in Blue Moon but why doesn’t she listen to anyone? Damen has been around a long time and knows what he is talking about and then there is Romy and Rayne. They were witches and if Ever was going to listen to anyone about using magyck then it was going to be them, but she didn’t. She chose to ignore everything that they told her and did what she wanted to, not really thinking about the consequences. I think maybe I’m putting myself into her situation a little too much here and thinking about what I would do but if she really wanted to save her relationship then I would have thought that she would pay attention to the people with more experience.

I really, really hope that we get to see a lot more of Jude in the next book. I can see why the girls (and Miles) were so interested in him. Shadowland ended with a huge mystery surrounding Jude and I cant wait to find out what he is really all about. I feel as though Shadowland only barely scraped the surface of what is going on with him and the connection he has with Ever and I hope to see this expanded on. It was nice to see Ever have someone that she could talk to about her abilities, apart from Damen, even if she was cautious to begin with.

A big part of the story that I did really like though was Damen realising his mistakes for the past 600 years. A big theme in this book is people realising the consequences for the actions and decisions they make through life and this hits Damen like a brick to the head. After what happened with Roman, he realises that he has been far from a Saint and needs to do something to fix his Karma. I don’t know if I completely agree with the way that he did things but at least he tried. In this respect, I liked Damen in this book but there were also things that he did that annoyed the hell out of me. I didn’t agree with the way that he dealt with Jude being around. With all of the problems going on with him and Ever, he decides to leave her to fend for herself and knowing that there is a good chance that she will make some awful decisions. You aren’t the completely good guy that I thought you were Damen!

I really enjoyed the involvement of magyck in Shadowland. It was clear that Roman wasn’t going to help Ever and Damen at all so there had to be another way around the problem and this was the perfect solution. Although it may seem like the obvious choice, I thought it was a great way to bring the story back to some of the characters we have met previously. Two of these were Romy and Rayne who I loved from Blue Moon. These teenage twins added comedy to a quite serious story which broke it up nicely.

My main problem with Shadowland is that I didn’t get any closure concerning anything that had happened in the previous two books. Nothing was resolved in any way. Instead of working through some of the things that are already happening in the story, more mystery and drama was added. I think I would have been happy if just one thing had been solved. I will be sticking this series out as I think it has real potential to be everything that I want it to be in the next book. I hope that the characters go through some personal development in the next instalment and Ever finally realises that she doesn’t know everything and that she isn’t always wise in her choices. I far from hated this book but I didn’t love it as much as I did Evermore and Blue Moon.
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