Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy #1)

Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: February 8th 2011
Smut-O-Meter: 3 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.


This book is so long! Its really only 579 pages, but I read it on an Kindle and if I didn't know better I would have guessed it was much longer than that. Its just that so much happened! From Oxford, to Sept-Tours, to Madison. To think about the times in the Bodleian now, it feels like ages ago.

The story is large and ambitious, more so than I have come to expect from PNR. The romance was definitely consuming and won't disappoint PNR lovers, but it is not the focus. There was so much mystery and danger and discovery. I loved all the history that was incorporated into the story, and the manuscripts that Diana studied. They sounded so beautiful and I have always been fascinated by history, especially art history. Diana was studying the history of science, but those manuscripts sounded like art as well. And there is such a wonderful, large cast of characters. I loved them all, and I hope we get to see them again in the next book.

Considering it was an adult PNR I was surprised there was no sex, but not disappointed. There is enough actual romance that the lack of sex was not felt. There was one sexy scene though, but nothing explicit. I would be ok with my teenagers reading this (if I had any).

I really look forward to reading Shadow of Night, and their adventure through history. Although, I really did not understand the last chapter of the book. The four pages with Sarah. What happened? Maybe I will understand it once I read the next book.

"I see that you are behaving like a prince but that doesn't mean you won't behave like a devil at the first opportunity."

Friday, 25 May 2012

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (Masque of the Red Death #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Publication Date: April 24th 2012
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


I am a little confused about my feelings for this book. I really like the story and the world. Its a dystopian and a lot of dystopians are similar. Its hard to have original dystopians, but enough original factors will help it stand out. And I think this succeeded, or at least came really close. I enjoyed the masks. Disease is a very familiar factor in dystopians, but the masks show social status, and the revealing clothes show whether or not you are diseased, which is new and interesting. There is always rebellion in dystopians, but the fact that there are two separate rebel factions in this, rather than one, is a bit different. With different methods and different agendas, will our heroes have to fight a war on two fronts? It changes things from the norm.

But there are two things that really bothered me about this book, and I'm not sure which hurt its rating more. They were both pretty disappointing. First is the voice of the narrator. Something about the way this was written, first-person present tense, made me imagine the voice in my head to be like Ben Stein's monotone voice. "Bueller, Bueller." And since it was Araby's voice, the MC, it really hurt how I felt about her. It seemed like she was dead inside and she didnt feel anything. The narration had the same tone throughout. When she was happy, when she was scared, when she was suicidal. It took me almost the whole book before I started to care about her, and even then, not as much as I should have.
My other issue is the way that the love-triangle was handled. You could say one guy was nice and sweet, while the other was kind of bad and mysterious. I liked them both in their own way, for different reasons. But I had a clear preference, and so did Araby. And while reading, I lived for the scenes with him. But near the end of the book, Bethany Griffin suddenly decides to change things on us, and something drastic happens to switch the book and Araby's focus from guy #1 to guy #2. I felt totally betrayed and confused. I couldnt believe what was happening. Why spend so much time making us fall for guy #1, when she knew this was going to happen in the end? And after Araby overcame so many personal demons in order to open up to him? But depending on your preference in men, maybe you will like guy #2 better from the beginning anyway. But at the end, both guys are still in the picture, so maybe in the next book Araby will switch back to guy #1, or the book may focus on guy #2 enough for me to fall for him this time. He definitely has the potential. But I will still miss guy #1 if that happens.

So, I really enjoyed the world and story, and the characters enough to give them another chance and find out what happens to them. Regardless of the flaws, the book was very memorable. I look forward to reading Dance of the Red Death.

And just as a note, this book is very highly categorized as steampunk, but the steampunk elements in it were very light, almost none at all. It did not feel like a steampunk book to me and I did not bother categorizing it as such in my shelves. Its dominant genre is definitely dystopian. It is far from an automatic for steampunk fans. So, if that is a main factor in your decision to read it, I suggest you reconsider.

“So there you are, drinking and taking drugs to the point of incapacitation, and you've been missing out on the best part of debauchery?"
"I wouldn't know."
"If you want to know, tell me.”

Monday, 21 May 2012

Eon by Alison Goodman (Eon #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Mythology
Publication Date: August 31st 2008
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Sixteen-year-old Eon has a dream, and a mission. For years, he's been studying sword-work and magic, toward one end. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye-an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life.


This was a really complex YA high fantasy. Like a cross between Eragon and Fire. It is extremely heavily influenced by Chinese mythology. The characters were not described in enough detail to know whether or not they were supposed to be Asian, but I imagine them that way anyways, because of the world they are in.

In this world, there are 12 spirit dragons that correspond to the 12 points of a compass, and the Chinese calendar. The ox dragon, tiger dragon, rooster dragon, snake dragon, etc. Each dragon has a master and an apprentice Dragoneye. Every 12 years the master retires, the apprentice is raised, and a new apprentice is chosen. These Dragoneyes use their Dragons' magic to serve the people and control the weather. Dragoneyes are always men. Eona is a 16 year old girl disguised as a 12 year-old boy, Eon, and is in training to compete to be a new Dragoneye apprentice.

I found the world, mythology, and story very interesting but hard to understand. My brain might need more exercise but I still enjoyed it. There was so much plotting and political intrigue, but also a lot of magic and descriptions of Eona's power and how the dragon magic works that was extremely complex. Hopefully it will be explained more in the next book.

Most of the book was about Eona's political maneuvering. I kept waiting for her to whip out some awesome dragon powers, but she never did. She never really figured out how to use it until the end, which was a bit disappointing. There was a big battle at the end but besides that there was no action, but lots of drama. And I didnt enjoy her isolation. I wish she would have had someone she could confide in. At least one good friend who she could trust with all her secrets. But she always had things to hide and I felt very anxious for her. She made a lot of mistakes and I wish she could have had someone for counsel. But she has some good friends in the end that I hope she can trust throughout the next book. And I read mostly YA romance so I was disappointed that there was no romance in this book. But the next one is listed as romance, so I am looking forward to that. I hope it is with the Pearl Emperor.

There is one more thing that confused me and slightly bothered me. Eona's master, Brannon. He bought her as a slave because he saw her potential to be a Dragoneye. It was his idea to disguise her and train her. When Eona finds her sewing needle in his room she realizes that he loved her. But she doesnt specify if he loves her as a child, or as a woman? Because he is in his 40s and she is only 16, so that's kind of gross. There is this scene which leads me to believe that he loved her as a woman.

"I didnt think I could do it. But I did." 
I felt the smock slip from my shoulder as he pulled me against his body. "Yes, you did," he murmured against my hair. I pressed into him, my body blindly molding itself into his approval. His breath against my ear was like the soft press of lips. "You've done well."  
I rested my head on his shoulder as his hands stroked my hair, my neck, the dip of my collarbone. A sharp spark of energy snapped between us, breast to hand, leaving a singed smell.
And then I was standing alone, my arms still holding the moment before. 
He stood a few paces back, cradling his hand, his eyes fixed on my bared skin. 
"The dragon is still in you," he said. He lifted his fingers to his mouth, sucking away the pain.  
I hugged my arms across my chest. The sting of our contact already fading, "I'm sorry, Master."

It seems kind of obvious there, but the rest of the time he just treated her like a child he was very proud of. Like a father. He even smacked her around a bit at one point when he was disappointed. So that one scene is just hard to come to terms with.

This book was set almost entirely in the Emperor's palace, but at the end Eona is on the run and the next book promises much more adventure than this one. I really enjoyed the intrigue, but I still look forward to having more adventure in Eona.

"You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and the hidden women in the harem, I know there are many types of power in this world...I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way."

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson (Blud #1)

Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Publication Date: March 27th 2012
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


When nurse Leticia Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….

Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They're also very good kissers.) But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy? Could she stay in Sang forever?


This was incredibly unique and surprising. Leticia is a home care nurse coming out of a long-term abusive relationship and she is not looking for anything serious. But someone else is. Someone is looking for someone just like her. She is strangely drawn to a ruby necklace she finds at an estate sale of a deceased patient, and without really understanding why, she steals it! That night she wears it as she falls asleep, and she wakes up in a strange magical land.

She is found by a caravan gypsy king named Criminy Stain. He is a Bludman. In a world called Sang, Bludmen are born, and besides drinking blood, their only similarities to vampires are their strength and longevity. When Leticia asked him if he was a vampire, and explained to him what a vampire was, he was rather insulted to be compared to something dead. He is very much alive and lives life to the fullest. It is a very strange world Leticia finds herself in, with Victorian dresses, magic, and clockwork pets, and where she suddenly has the power of a seer. And most confusing of all, is when Criminy tells her that she has been brought there for him.

He had his heart broken once when he was younger. Now he is 130 years old and still alone. So he put a spell on the necklace to go out and find him his perfect mate. But he never anticipated that she would resist. He just assumed that if she was perfect for him, he would be perfect for her. She is drawn to him of coursehe's like a wickedly delicious version of Mr. Darcybut he is not the kind of man she ever actually imagined herself with. He's just a secret fantasy. And at first that is what she thinks he is, a dream. Criminy is extremely forward and honest about his feelings, but Leticia refuses his advances. Then her necklace is stolen and she is stuck in his world. Together they must chase down the rich and powerful man who stole it and stop his plot against the Bludmen. On their journey they have to fight ghosts, blood thirsty bunnies, jealous backstabbing mermaids, and commandeer a submarine.

The world this book created is extremely unique and vivid, but my favourite part is the characters. Criminy and Leticia are not your usual hero and heroine. They have some of the familiar traits, but Leticia was really a damsel. She is brave and clever and kind, but she is not strong and never did any of her own fighting, and she cries rather easily. But I really enjoyed her character because she felt so real and genuine. And her and Criminy complemented each other perfectly. Criminy has a viscous side, like any blood drinking creature would, vampire or not. But he is not dark and mysterious like you might be expecting. He is vibrant, exciting, and open, always making Leticia laugh with his magic tricks and crooked smile. They are an amazing couple. Criminy loves her so openly and freely, and I can see theirs becoming a truly epic love. I am sad we don't get to see it as the future books in the series are each about a different couple.

Although this is an adult book and there are a couple of sexy scenes in it, it was not overly emphasized. I am very glad that this is one of few adult PNRs I've read where the sex does not overshadow the romance.

“He was an animal. He was terrifying. And he was beautiful. I realized that I was biting my lip, that my hand was wound into the ruffled fabric at my chest. Something in me was drawn to the carnage. Like so many women before me, I was a slave to the caveman brain, that deep old part of my DNA that whispered that ferocity would keep me safe and fed and alive and that I should most definitely find the fiercest creature around and hump it.”

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Blood of Eden #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Paranormal, Romance
My Rating: 3 out of 5

To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.


I am not sure where to start. Its hard not to be biased. I guess the easiest place to start would be to say that I didn't enjoy this as much as The Iron Fey. I thought the first half of the book was far too slow, and it took awhile before anything happened. And I am not entirely won over by Zeke. I liked him more in the end, once he finally got some courage and stood up for Allie. At first he was extremely kind, but he never really stood up for himself or anyone else. He was kind when he could be, otherwise he just did what he was told. And I really couldn't believe how he let Jed treat him. But I started to like him in the end. He did a few very impressive things and started to become the man he would have been without Jed's influence, so I am looking forward to seeing more of him, which I am sure we will. As well as Kanin.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story, even if I had some issues with the pacing. I like where I see this going and I cant wait for more action. Allie kicks ass with her katana. :P A zombie chopping vampire with a katana.

One of the most impressive things about this book IMO, was the vampire lore. Being a vampire was not glamourized, and a perfect combination of vampire characteristics were kept that helped it feel real. Characteristics that could be explained with science fiction, rather than the supernatural. It was messy and gritty. Allie's struggle was both more desperate and more believable than other vampire books I've read. I see a lot of potential for this series. There were no issues that cant be easily overcome in the next book (pacing, Zeke manning up). I look forward to reading more, and growing to love the series as a whole.

“So, what do you think I am?” Naive, I thought at once. Naive, brave, selfless, incredible and much too kind to survive this world.
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