Wednesday 29 February 2012

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Publication Date: March 23rd 2010
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness....

Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.


This book was a nice little high fantasy adventure. At first it was steadily interesting but not overwhelmingly awesome or anything. A war is coming and Sydelle's parents agree to send her off with a young wizard to save her from whatever might happen to their village. And the wizard agrees for his own reasons. Most of the book is Sydelle and North trekking across the country towards the capital. North has information about the war that he has to take there. At first Sydelle hates him for taking her away from her home, but they get to know each other very slowly.

I love how neither of them ever says how they feel. Its just so natural that they don't need to. One day they just start holding hands as if its the most normal thing, without having to say a word about it. And one day he refers to her as his, and she doesn't object. She responds as if its fact. He could have kissed her sooner but their love is too innocent to ruin by rushing their physical relationship. There is a scene where Sydelle takes care of North when he is sick and it is absolutely the sweetest thing.

But once they get to the capital, that's when things get awesome! I could not put the book down! I had to shamefully ignore my husband until I finished it! I had no choice! Sydelle finds out why North agreed to take her with him, she meets the head sorceress, and gets kidnapped by an enemy country! It was all very exciting. And the ending was perfect and sweet. There is only one thing left open at the end. But it is left in a way that gives us hope. It is similar to how at the end of The Iron Knight we don't know if Ash will age or not, but we are left with enough hope to assume the best. There is something about North that we don't know if it will work out, but we can assume it does. This book was a sweet treat that will brighten anyone's week.

“He held me against him gently, as if I was glass - as if I could shatter and fall away from him at any moment and leave him breathless and alone once more.”

Sunday 26 February 2012

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (The Books of the Raksura #1)

Genres: High Fantasy, Adventure
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself... and his newfound kin.

I was totally blown away by this book! I dont remember how I came across it. I have never read another book by the author, I don't have any friends who have read it. And after discovering it I immediately started reading it, instead of it sitting on my to-read list for years like books usually do. It was so amazing and imaginative!

This is a high fantasy, in a world with no humans that is called Three Worlds. There are several different races of ground dwellers, more than we had time to meet, that are referred to as groundlings. Then there are the air races that are referred to as flyers. There are also water races (making up the Three Worlds), but they had no part in this story and they are called sealings. The main character, Moon, is a flyer. He looks human in one form, but he can shape-shift into a creature that looks like a cross between a gargoyle and an angel. They have dragon-like scales, raptor-like claws, and smell with their mouth like snakes. Moon is an orphan who doesn't know what his species is called, and has not seen another of his kind since his family was killed by wild animals 35 years earlier (his race lives a long time so he is still considered young). He lives with whatever groundling communities will take him in. Until they see him shift and they become terrified and drive him off.

Eventually one of his kind finds him, and asks him to come home with him. Moon agrees and discovers that his people live in a colony with a queen, similar to bees. He also discovers that he is a very rare breed of his people, one who can mate with a queen. The one who found him and brought him home, purposely neglected telling him this, because he feared Moon would refuse.

His people are in the middle of a war with another race of flyers. A race of brutal savages who eat those that they conquer. Moon's people don't openly accept him. Most don't trust him and consider him an outsider. The enemy wants him for their own purposes, and the reigning queen and the young queen are fighting over whose consort he will be. Moon is confused and alone but agrees to stay and help only until the colony can evacuate. Of course fate has other plans.

The story is wonderful, and the world and species so imaginative! I loved it so much. The romance was mild and hardly a romance till closer to the end. Although I am not sure if Jade actually cares about Moon or just desperately wants babies. Being a consort sounded a bit too much like a job. I might find out in the next book. It was very strange to read from the POV of someone who isn't human. I don't think I have ever done that before.

There were a few small things that bugged me. The names of all the characters were so confusing! I had a hard time distinguishing between characters because I couldn't remember all their names. I could remember a few main characters, such as Moon, Stone, Jade, Pearl, and Chime. But then there was River, Root, Song, Sand, and dozens of others. Blah, so confusing! Also I didn't understand how Moon could live among groundlings for 35 years and never have heard a single word about his people. No one seemed to recognize him when they saw him shift. Yet his people couldn't have been far away if he was found completely by chance.

I am not sure if this should be categorized as adult or young adult. Can it be neither? The story isn't particularly heavy. More along the lines of other YA fantasy such as Eragon. The sex was completely washed over, like the scenes in YA. But there were no young characters, and there were a few instances of extreme violence, including several references to rape both heterosexual and homosexual. So use your own discretion.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress #1)

Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Smut-O-Meter: 8 out of 10
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Flirting with the Grave...

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father - the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner - are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.


I put much more weight on characters than story, and the characters in this didn't really appeal to me. Bones kind of reminded me of Travis from Beautiful Disaster. They have a lot of differences of course, mainly that Bones is not nearly as pathetic and insecure as Travis, but his attitude and temper reminded me of Travis a lot of the time, and that is a really bad thing.

I found Cat pretty annoying. It seems that nowadays paranormal authors are trying their very best to make their heroine as far as possible from being Bella. Not that that is what Jeaniene Frost was doing, but it means that I have seen a lot of heroines like this lately, and most were done better. Such as Kelsey from Tiger's Curse and Alex from Half-Blood. Instead, Cat kind of reminded me of Dez from Touch, who was also kind of annoying. She was pretty kick ass in the final fight scene though.

The story was the best part of this book. It was quite a conspiracy, lots of tracking down leads, interesting stuff. Kept me reading. But I thought the romance was seriously lacking. I would hardly call it a romance, just lots of sex. The first sex scene was shocking. Probably the most explicit you can get without getting an erotica label. There wasn't any of the stuff that I love about romance novels. None of the building of their relationship, sweet scenes and romantic words. They just skipped it all and were having sex about a quarter of the way into the book, so there was no time for more. 

I guess I should stick to YA, where it takes the whole first book in a series for a couple to admit they have feelings for each other. That's what I love, building tension and simmering feelings. Reminds us of our first love. But its definitely not just YA that does it right. I have read more than my fair share of great adult romance. This just is not one of them. I'll probably continue the series eventually, but I'm not in a hurry.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #2)

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Publication Date: December 6th 2011
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


In magical Victorian London, orphan Tessa found safety with the Shadowhunters, until traitors betray her to the Magister. He wants to marry her, but so do self-destructive Will and fiercely devoted Jem. Mage Magnus Bane returns to help them. Secrets to her parentage lie with the mist-shrouded Yorkshire Institute's aged manager Alyosius Starkweather.

I definitely enjoyed this more than Clockwork Angel, but besides that I am not entirely sure how I feel about it. My main problem with it is the same problem I had with Angel, which I knew would not change. Tessa and Will. I didnt understand them in the first book and I dont understand them in this one either. Whatever reasons Will may have had for his behaviour, Tessa was not aware of them until the end, and still, somehow she managed to have insatiable feeling for a boy who had no discernible personality beyond sarcasm. Every private thought Tessa shared with us about Will only sounded like lust. "And still a look from him could make her tremble with mingled hatred and longing. It was like a poison in her blood, to which Jem was the only antidote. Only with him did she feel on steady ground." That makes things very clear to me. How can there be any comparison?

My feelings for this love-triangle are quite similar to that of Tiger's Voyage, although Tiger's Voyage excelled in all other areas, where Prince was merely mediocre. In both books, the girl has passionate thoughts about a boy who is wrong for her, who hurt her, who has a supernatural barrier between them. And when he comes back to her, it is too late because she has already fallen for someone else. A boy who is good and kind and understanding, and who deserves so much better than a girl who is constantly betraying him in her thoughts. I am aware that YA romances do not attempt to give an accurate portrayal of love. And I adore YA romance, it is practically all I read, so I have no reason to complain about the basis of the genre. I love it for what it is. But this book, and Tiger's Voyage, I must admit as much as I love it, take things a little too far. Lust and passion are a horrible basis for a relationship, as the above quote shows."...hatred and longing." Emotion for emotion's sake does not mean love, it could simply mean hatred. It reminds me of a scene in Tiger's Voyage, which isnt this book but still supports my point. The girl was confiding in someone about her torn feelings, and mentioned that one boy gave her peace, and the other makes her want to strangle him. Her confidante implied that the strong feelings that the second boy provokes in her is a sign that he is the one she should choose. What a load of crap! But that seems to be what Clare is trying to imply as well. I could go on all day about how wrong this is, but I think I've said enough.

I enjoyed this more than I should have because of Jem and Tessa. Will feels like the main guy of this love-triangle because of the way he dominates Tessa's thoughts, but otherwise I would have guessed that it was Jem, because he got much more focus in this book than Will. He could so easily fill the role of "main guy", if it werent for Tessa's betraying thoughts. And I dont want to enjoy Jem and Tessa as much as I do because I don't see how it can end well. Has there ever been a YA author who defied the laws of YA romance and got the girl with the back-up guy? Not to my knowledge. Although I would praise her unceasingly if she did.

“When two souls are as one, they stay together on the Wheel. I was born into this world to love you, and I will love you in the next life, and the one after that."

Friday 10 February 2012

Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks (World of the Lupi #1)

Genres: Adult, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Romance
Smut-O-Meter: 8 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Lily Yu is a San Diego police detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf. To hunt down the killer, she must infiltrate the clans. Only one man can help her--a were named Rule Turner, a prince of the lupi, whose charismatic presence disturbs Lily. Rule has his own reasons for helping the investigation--reasons he doesn't want to share with Lily. Logic and honor demand she keep her distance, but the attraction between them is immediate and devastating-and beyond human reason. Now, in a race to fend off evil, Lily finds herself in uncharted territory, tested as never before, and at her back a man who she's not sure she can trust.

I am tempted to give this 5 stars, but the story wasn't 100%. The romance was though, and that is what I cant stop thinking about. So I will settle for 4 stars, and start by explaining how this differs from most werewolf books.

It seemed to be set in a modern day San Diego, but there was talk of wars with werewolves and sorcerers in the past 100 years, so I think it is an alternate history. Werewolves are common knowledge and the country is still in the process of trying to adjust laws to better define humans. In that respect it reminded me of True Blood. Werewolves are made through birth, not bites. When a werewolf has a son, he will also be a werewolf once he hits puberty. The females are not werewolves. They consider themselves a different species and live in clans with their own form of government, which the US government tolerates for the time being.

Lily Yu is a homicide detective, who meets Rule Turner, heir to the Nokolai clan, while investigating a murder that was committed by a werewolf. Lily has a type of psychic power that gives her the ability to sense magic. Werewolves were created with magic by a being that they call the Lady, and is sort of like their goddess. So, Lily can detect the type of magic on the body and knows it was a werewolf who did it. When Lily first meets Rule her mind goes blank and she is stunned, and I thought, "Uh oh, instalove?" But its not, its really not. It turns out, that sometimes their Lady decides to gift them with a Chosen, apparently pretty rare. Since the werewolves are a male dominated species, it is not surprising that they value virility. Rule is the youngest of 3 brothers, but he was made heir because he has a son.

So, a Chosen is like a mate, but it is merely a physical relationship. No feelings or love come with it. Just an intense sexual attraction. And I mean intense. And Lily is a straight laced cop, so she is like, "Am I going crazy?" She normally would never sleep with a guy she has only known for two days. But they are bonded for life, and have an almost constant need to be touching, and can't get far away from each other, a couple miles at most, without getting dizzy and weak. Their physical relationship is developing much faster than their emotional relationship, but they seem to be fond of each other, and I can of course see that in time they will fall in love. I really look forward to it. They do at this point have a strong need to protect each other as if they were an extension of themselves. At one point, when Rule is in danger, Lily goes sorta berserk and tackles the villain and starts bashing her head against the ground until she's dead. Kinda badass.

I didn't address the story at all in my review. There were some more murders, some betrayals and a frame job, and Lily doesn't know who to trust and has to find a way to prove Rule's innocence. In the end I didn't entirely understand the villain's plan or motives. The amount of information to understand their world was also a bit overwhelming, and I couldn't always follow it. But who cares! Read this for Rule and Lily!

Sunday 5 February 2012

Camille by Tess Oliver (Camille #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
My Rating: 4 out of 5


At a time when society conforms to the strictest rules and most proper etiquette, sixteen-year-old Camille Kennecott and her guardian, Dr. Bennett, live a most unconventional life. They hunt werewolves.

When unwitting victim, Nathaniel Strider, wanders into one of their full moon pursuits, Camille and Dr. Bennett believe they have found a specimen for their study. Finding a scientific key to unlocking the mystery of lycanthropy would end their late night excursions. Yet beneath the irresistible exterior, Nathaniel is transforming into a flesh-tearing monster, and as each experiment fails, Camille’s loses another inch of her soul to him. She knows that in a month’s time she must face the prospect of destroying the boy who has stolen her heart.


This book was wonderful! Camille and her guardian, Dr. Bennett, hunt and study werewolves. It is an interest that was shared by her father until it killed him 6 years earlier. One night, while Camille and Dr. Bennett are out hunting a particular werewolf, they witness a young man is bit on the leg before they manage to take it down. Dr. Bennett sends Camille to follow the young man, Nathaniel, and see if he is being affected by the bite. It doesn't take long for Camille to see that all the women of the East End are throwing themselves at him, and she has to admit, she can see why. 

One day when she is following him she peaks around a corner and catches him with a woman in an alley. She gasps, which catches his attention, and he stares at her while he continues to kiss the other girl's neck. She continues to stare right back and she is completely captured by his gaze and she can't look away, while he makes out with another woman. OMG that scene was so hot! Haha, that is when I fell in love with him. He is so arrogant and sure of himself that he seduces two women at once! And the cover of the sequel, Heart of the Huntress, features Pepe Toth. So just picture Daemon in Victorian London. Yeah, hot!

Camille eventually convinces him to come home with her and help them find a cure. Most of the book focuses on them getting to know each other and spending time together while Dr. Bennett looks for a cure, cherishing what little time they have. They are incredibly sweet together and I love the intensity and urgency of their relationship since they know what is coming. Camille is willing to do anything to save him, even defy Dr. Bennett, who of course will kill Nathaniel if the cure isn't found before the next full moon. Nathaniel would rather kill himself than risk Camille's safety, but when the time comes Camille does whatever is necessary to save Nathaniel from himself and Dr. Bennett.

“He looked down at my fingers wrapped around his coat then lifted his eyes to mine. 'My tiny huntress, do you know what you've done to me?”

Saturday 4 February 2012

Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck (The Tiger Saga #3)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy/Mythology, 
Adventure, Romance   
My Rating: 5 out of 5


With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections--leaving Kelsey more confused than ever.

This book was emotionally exhausting! Just like the first two. The ending didnt make me cry though, which is a first. The first and second books ended with an emotional cliffhanger, not an action one. I am quite excited to find out what happens next.

The setup of this book was a bit different from the previous two. The first two start out with Kelsey in Oregon, until she returns to India, then the bulk of the book takes place on their adventure in another realm. This one started out in India and Kelsey does not return home between her second and third adventures. Which is good because I don't really enjoy the parts in Oregon as much. The first half of this book is set on a yacht, before they start their adventure. Kelsey, Ren, Kishan, Mr. Kadam, and Nilima. The usual group, while they prepare for their next adventure. It is during this time that the love-triangle is taken to a whole new level. So much back and forth and fighting between the three of them. I think it may have been taken a little too far and shifted the focus of the book a bit too much away from the curse.

In Tiger's Quest I was very impressed with Kelsey's loyalty to Ren. I was impressed that she so strongly resisted such a hot, flirty guy when Ren wasn't around. I had new found respect for her. But Kishan is unlike most back-up guys and I knew it would be possible to turn the triangle around, and that Colleen Houck would likely do it. Although I couldn't figure out how it could be done without Kelsey betraying Ren. Well, Colleen did, and left me mad at Ren rather than Kelsey. She convincingly took Kelsey away from Ren and gave her to Kishan. She did it without me having to lose respect for Kelsey. Although I did lose a little respect for Ren, which is unfortunate. But I have a new found, immense love for Kishan which I am very happy about. I love him so much I could cry! Haha, maybe not literally but when you read so much teenage romance your emotions can get a little confused.

I was disappointed in how Kelsey kept saying that she loved Kishan, but she was constantly thinking about Ren. Even after she listed all the reasons why she chose Kishan, which were all good reasons, she could barely stay focused on him. She kept making horrible analogies like how Kishan was the steady player who would last the game but couldn't score the three-pointers. I found it extremely unfair to Kishan and I think he deserves more. He loves Kelsey a lot so I would want him to be with her so he could be happy, but at the same time I think he deserves someone who could love him more thoroughly. Although I would never want Colleen to do that thing where you throw in a new girl at the end so everyone can be happy. I hate it when that happens. But the girl always ends up with the main guy. Colleen will find a way to get Kelsey back with Ren, and she will most likely find a way to do it smoothly and naturally like everything else. But will she find a way to do it without breaking Kishans's heart? 

But this book still excelled where the first two did. The amazing adventure and mythology! This one may even be my favourite in that respect. They travel the ocean of another realm and face five dragons inspired by Chinese mythology. Each dragon gives them a different task to complete before they reach the end to claim their prize. My favourite was definitely the green dragon, although it was probably the characters' least favourite. It was very exciting. I really look forward to what happens next. It says Tiger's Destiny doesn't come out till September, but the first three all came out in 2011, so that seems a little unfair. Although these books like to torment me emotionally, Colleen has somehow managed to make me agree with all the changes that have happened to Kelsey. I am taking the ups and downs with her. I love Ren when she loves Ren. I love Kishan when she loves Kishan. So I hope whatever happens in the next book, I will agree with it too. I don't know how she does it!
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