Friday 29 June 2012

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

Genres: Adult, Adventure, Humour, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: April 10th 2012
POV: Male - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 2 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


They're an iconic part of history's most celebrated birth. But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity, besides the fact that they followed a star to Bethlehem bearing strange gifts? The Bible has little to say about this enigmatic trio. But leave it to Seth Grahame-Smith, the brilliant and twisted mind behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to take a little mystery, bend a little history, and weave an epic tale.

In Grahame-Smith's telling, the so-called "Three Wise Men" are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod's prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod's men begin to slaughter the first born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.

It's the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.


I found this book strangely moving. It was my first Seth Grahame-Smith book and I didn't know what to expect. Although there was some humour, I thought it would be more 'out there', and ridiculing the whole story. But really he just expanded on the story that already exists in the Bible, filling in the blanks with his own ideas. There was very little that was altered from the original story, mostly just the timeline and a few other details (Mary and Joseph met Simeon in Jerusalem not Hebron, Jesus only forgave one of the criminals crucified with him not both). I am a Christian myself so I am quite familiar with the story.

Although I am a Christian, I am not an overly sensitive Christian, so I decided to read this thinking it would be a bit of fun. But that's not why I ended up enjoying it at all. I don't know what Grahame-Smith intended, if he has a positive or negative view of Christians, but I actually found this motivational. I love the way God brought them through everything, and how changed Balthazar was in the end.

For those who don't like the idea of a Christian book, it reads mostly as an adventure; a great, violent, historical adventure with supernatural elements that could be considered mythology. It also has the feel of a high fantasy at times, with the many sword fights, dungeons, and evil kings. I definitely recommend it for fans of fantasy and adventure.

Balthazar was the only character that we really got to know, but I really felt for him, and I actually cried three times throughout this book. The last time was in the epilogue. It was such a clever and satisfying ending. I love the way Grahame-Smith used real historical events to accent the story, as he did in the epilogue, and I imagine it is the same in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Although I am not very familiar with American history so I may not be able to appreciate the work once I get around to reading that one.

Despite all the violence, I would consider this a 'feel good' book. I feel uplifted, but also impressed. Very smartly done.

“Even if it meant the most painful, hideous death a human being had ever experienced, they weren't getting the baby, and they weren't getting her. Twenty yards… He gripped the handle of his sword tightly…​breathed deep of the desert air. Okay, Balthazar…let’s die.

Monday 25 June 2012

Eona by Alison Goodman (Eon #2)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Publication Date: April 19th 2011
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans.

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic story only Alison Goodman can create

This was as good as the first book and perhaps a little better. It had the mythology that I loved so much about the first book, but more adventure and romance, which were two things I mentioned in my review of Eon that I wished there had been more of. There was so much adventure, and absolutely no court intrigue in this one. Almost the entire book dealt with the dragons' power, Eona trying to understand it, and finding a way to use it to save the kingdom. Perhaps at times I thought there was too much magic and I wished it would stop. There was always a new force to deal with, but it was important to the story.

I feared that most of the book would be about finding Kygo and reuniting with the resistance, but Kygo found them within four chapters. I was very happy to have him back since I anticipated a romance starting. And we got not only romance, but a love-triangle. It was not a bad love-triangle, since its the last book in a short series, we knew it would be quickly resolved. And Ido never really had a chance anyway, even if the scene on the boat was super hot, he was the bad guy after all.
One thing that disappointed me about the first book was not resolved in the second. Eona never truly trusted anyone. I always felt so uneasy about the amount of secrets she kept. She couldn't tell Kygo because he could use it against her. She couldn't tell Dela because she was loyal to Ryko and Kygo. She couldn't tell Ido because he would use it for his own gain. It was not fun watching her struggle with it all, but at least she didn't make as many mistakes as she did in Eon.

I really wish more had been resolved in the end. As soon as the main conflict ended, the book ended. It finished with the words, "Balance has been restored to the heavens and earth, but we have work ahead of us to restore order to the empire." I wish we had seen some of the work, at least a glimpse of what became of the kingdom, how the people responded to their new emperor and the lack of his symbol of power, and where Eona's place would be in this new world. One more chapter or an epilogue would have been sufficient, although a whole third novel would have been even better. But I will hope for the best. Eona and Kygo will work hard to make it work, the kingdom as well as being together.

"The She of the dragon will return and ascend 
When the cycle of twelve draws to an end... 
The She of the Dragoneye will restore and defend 
When the Darkforce is mastered with Hua of All Men."

Friday 22 June 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publication Date: September 13th 2011
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Present tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.


I am not sure if this deserves more of a 3 or a 4. Its kinda of hard to rate because the story was absolutely amazing! Honestly one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. But the overall experience was not enjoyable. The way the whole thing was written and laid out was not complimentary in my opinion.

The story takes place over a period of almost exactly 30 years. Several years sometimes go by between chapters, and not all chapters are placed in chronological order (luckily each chapter starts with a date so we can at least try to keep things straight in our heads). There are several alternating POVs, not in any particular pattern. Celia and Marco are clearly the main characters, but besides that any random person can have their POV here or there. Some characters' relevance to the story are not made clear till much later. And although the majority of the book is written in third-person narrative, some interspersed chapters are actually written in second-person. This is by far the most awkward thing I have ever seen. Clearly, second-person narrative exists, but does anyone ever use it? I have never seen it before and I hope to never see it again. The effect was rather awkward and disjointed. Nothing seemed to flow as it should.

Besides the way that the book and its timeline were laid out, I also did not enjoy the way it was written. The narrative was extremely formal and impersonal. It seemed to always be present and always know what was said or done, but rarely knew what was felt. I can think of very few instances where a characters thoughts or feelings were described. I was not drawn into the story at all and felt very little attachment to the characters. It was like I was just watching it from a distance.

The actual story however, is beyond words. Beautiful historical settings, a sweeping romance, and so much magic. It is just the kind of thing that I usually eat up, if only someone else had thought of it and written it, with some emotion and depth. There is no point in trying to describe the story, its like The Matrix. You have to see it to believe it. This will make an amazing movie and I cannot wait! Hopefully the timeline and POV issues will be smoothed over, and any issues I had with the lack of emotions can be fixed automatically by a good director. If done right it could be one of the best movies ever.

"I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough." 
"But you built me dreams instead."

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay (Juliet Immortal #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: August 9th 2011
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.


I really didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I am usually not a fan of retellings. But this book was crazy intense! As you can probably guess from a book that deals with love and death. And all the supernatural elements were almost overwhelming. It was one of the most surprisingly original books I have read in a long time. Just change the names from Romeo and Juliet to something else and you wouldn't even be able to tell it was a retelling. If you love YA romance with intense emotions and life or death situations, this is for you!

I also love all the characters. Ben most of all, of course. I love a guy with a protective temper. And Juliet. And Ariel, even though we hardly got to know her, but we saw the life she lived through Juliet. And Romeo. I could not stop myself from falling for Romeo a little bit too, even though he is a psychopath. His life had just been so sad and miserable. He was a tad pathetic at times but I cant really blame him after everything he's been through. Maybe I should be blaming him, but I don't.

But there were several things I didn't understand. Why didn't Nurse appear to explain things to Juliet earlier? When she finally did, she said it wasn't happening quickly enough, and I still don't know what she was talking about or what Juliet was suppose to be accomplishing. And then Nurse showed her how she died the first time, and I don't understand what really happened. What were the circumstances surrounding her death and how did she end up in the tomb? Why was Romeo pretending to be dead and what did he expect to happen?

The ending was good but not perfect, but maybe I am being too picky. They were better off where they ended up, where no one knew where they were and no one was after them. But I wish things could have been different where Ben is concerned. And I guess that might be another thing that I didn't fully understand. What exactly happened to Ben? Was that the same person? They had a lot of chemistry throughout the book, but I think they hit it off a little too quickly in the end. It felt forced compared to the first time they met in Ben's truck, where you could really see the sparks flying. But I guess that moment isn't everything. I have the proof of all the book up to that point that they are meant to be. There is no denying their chemistry, Ben's intensity, or Juliet's pure devotion. And I cannot wait to see more of this world in Romeo Redeemed and more of the great supporting characters.

"I don't care if I'm not the first." His head tilts and his lips move within a whisper of mine. "As long as I'm the last."

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Coexist by Julia Crane (Keegan's Chronicles #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: June 10th 2011
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Sixteen-year-old Keegan is struggling to keep her huge secret from her friends--she's an elf, descended from a long line of elves that live in secrecy alongside humans.

In elfin society, mates are predetermined but not allowed to meet until they are eighteen. Against tradition, Keegan's brother Thaddeus told her Rourk's name because his visions warned him she'd need Rourk's protection, especially since Keegan will play a key role in the coming war between the dark and light elves.

Rourk finds himself drawn to Keegan's side every time she thinks his name. He wants to talk to her but remains in the shadows, silently guarding her every time she mentally beckons him. A twist of fate thrusts the two of them together when Rourk is forced to step up his protection and make his presence known.

An ancient prophecy deeply entwines Keegan's family and the future of their society. Somehow they must find a way to thwart fate and win the battle...without losing Keegan. With war brewing, and dark forces aligning, will Keegan and Rourk ever have the life together that they both desire?


This book was a bit disappointing. The romance was way too easy. It was 100% insta-love. Keegan is an elf, and elves have soulmates that they meet when they turn 18. But Keegan is only 16 and she is having trouble waiting. Also, her brother is a seer, and he told her her soulmate's name is Rourk. Because of their bond, whenever Keegan thinks Rourk's name, he knows. Elf soulmates have a semi-telepathic link. And Keegan's father is the military leader of the elves and gave Rourk permission to guard Keegan even though they are not yet 18. He watches her all the time and keeps her safe. I think he loves her even though they have not met yet in the beginning of the book. The first chapter is from Rourk's POV and he is watching her in the woods as she does her photography. The way he so tenderly describes her makes me think that he already loves her, not only because of their insta-love connection.

Keegan has never met Rourk yet and doesn't even know what he looks like. But when she is attacked at a concert he makes himself known to save her and the second Keegan sees him she knows he is the one. Insta-love. Rourk was not given permission to make contact, so they don't speak. Later, when they officially meet for the firs time, they kiss immediately, before even speaking, and from that moment on their love is a fact and nothing needs to be proven. They are never alone so they just talk about boring stuff in the presence of her parents and have no tender "getting to know each other" moments. Keegan asks him his favourite colour and other boring questions like that, but that is not what matters in a relationship. The romance was so simple and easy that it was dull. The process of falling in love is the best part and they totally skipped it.

But in the end, Keegan has an accident and all her memories of Rourk, as well as her soulmate connection to him, are erased. When she sees him she feels nothing like she did when she saw him the first time. He no longer knows when she thinks his name, and is no longer able to know where she is at all times, as he could before. So this gives the second book a lot of opportunity to make up for what it lacked in the first. In the end, Rourk is determined to win Keegan the old fashioned way. Their love will now be tried and tested and hopefully be proven true.

Although there is a little hiccup. Keegan was always a little boy crazy. She knew she would meet her soulmate when she was 18 but she saw nothing wrong with dating other guys in the meantime. And she was only 16 so she thought she would have awhile. There was a guy that she liked, Donald, but he refused to go out with her because he liked her too much and didn't want to set himself up to get hurt, because he knew she would forget all about him as soon as she met her soulmate. Now that she has forgotten all about Rourk, she is thinking about Donald again. And Donald knows that her connection to Rourk has been broken so he will most likely take advantage of the situation by pursuing Keegan, and messing things up for Rourk.

Aside from the romance, another thing I thought was lacking was the world building, which was almost non-existent. Although the main conflict of this book was resolved in the end, and I have no idea if the next book, Conflicted, will have a new conflict or if it will just be about the newly formed love-triangle, I will still be reading it. I really like Rourk and I want to see him woo his girl.

“Rourk didn't even know her name, but he knew he’d never seen anyone so magnificent in his life. Her wavy hair glistened in the sunlight. She had a delicate, round face with large, blue-green eyes and full lips. With her cheeks flushed from the cold fall air, she reminded him of a porcelain doll. He knew that her looks deceived; her bold, daring eyes gave her away. She constantly observed her surroundings. Rourk smiled to himself; soon they would be together.”

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Precious Stone Trilogy #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: January 6th 2009
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.


This book was a lot of fun. It was very exciting with an original idea. The only other time I have heard of people time traveling without the help of a device was in The Time Traveler's Wife, which was an excellent book but it was pretty contemporary. More magical realism than fantasy. Ruby Red is thoroughly a fantasy, with time traveling to spectacular historical settings using their own innate abilities or with the help of a mysterious magical clock, secret societies and conspiracies, ghost, gargoyles, and mind powers. It had everything, action, mystery, humour, beautiful dresses, and a little romance with a thoroughly swoon-worthy guy.
I really like Gwenyth a lot. She is very spunky, like a lot of heroines who don't know there is anything special about them, but then are suddenly thrust into a strange new world. I also really like Gideon's calm, cool exterior and how he so very occasionally cracks a joke. You can tell there is much more to him underneath. But what? I am still a little suspicious about him. We didn't really get to know him very well or discover his real intentions.

The book felt extremely short. Goodreads says it was 324 pages, but I read it on my reader and it felt so much shorter than that. It is hard to believe it was 324 pages. It felt like just the intro to the story, like the book should not have finished yet. The series would probably best be read as one long book.

Since the story and the characters were still in the development stage, I hadn't yet gotten a clear picture of Gideon, but I really hope he is good and can be trusted. I would also love to believe that what happened between them at the end was real, but it seemed too fast. He might be up to something. I cant wait to read Sapphire Blue. I would read it immediately if it weren't for the fact that the English translation hasn't been published yet. I can foresee a lot of adventure and danger in their future and it is going to be thoroughly exciting.

“The first pair Opal and Amber are, 
Agate sings in B flat, the wolf avatar, 
A duet-solutio! - with Aquamarine. 
Mighty Emerald next, with the lovely Citrine. 
Number Eight is digestio, her stand is Jade fine. 
E major's the key of the Black Tourmaline, 
Sapphire sings in F major, and bright is her sheen. 
Then almost at once comes Diamond alone, 
Whose sign of the lion as Leo is known. 
Projectio! Time flows on, both present and past. 
Ruby red is the first and is also the last.”

Sunday 10 June 2012

Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper (The Sea Monster Memoirs #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mythology, Romance
Publication Date: November 25th 2011
POV: Alternating - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Yara Jones doesn't believe in sea monsters-until she becomes one. When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people-until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process-or she might open the gateway to a love that's deeper than the oceans.


This was amazing! It was my first mermaid book, but it was so much more! It had mermaids, sirens, selkies, gorgons, water sprites, and even a Greek god. But there was so much to the story, with so much mythology and history, action, and romance! If you love fiery and passionate romances with lots of pledges of undying love and self-sacrifice, this is for you. Even though they were unable to have a physical relationship until near the end, there was never any doubt about their love.

And I was really impressed with the story. I was expecting a simple forbidden romance between a mermaid or merman and a human, and a sacrifice having to be made to be together. But this was so much bigger, their decisions would affect worlds. And neither of them were straightforward merfolk or humans. They had very complicated heritages and very complicated roles in the larger conflict. I never knew what was going to happen next and I was really happy with how things were handled in the end.

I loved the world this book created. I don't know if it was entirely based on mythology, or if it was created by Karen Amanda Hooper. I loved how everything fit together, all the different roles the water creatures played, and the ranking colours of the mermaids sounded so gorgeous. I wish I could have seen them. Treygan, Yara, Karoline, and Nixie all sounded beautiful. They were great characters too. And I loved Pango, he was hilarious. I am a little confused by Rownan though. At first he seemed like a really horrible guy, even after spending time with Yara for months. But then he seemed to change his stance so quickly. Not that I am complaining. I am glad he came around.

With the extremely unique situation Yara and Treygan find themselves in at the end, I am anxious to find out how it works out for them in the future. The few glimpses of their uninterrupted happiness that we got to witness was amazing, and I can't wait to see more, but I know it can't be that easy. I cannot wait to see them fight for each other and their people again in Dangerous Depths, and to see their incredible strength, loyalty and love in action.

“Screw the rules, damn the consequences, and just love. Love until it kills you, because there's nothing better worth dying for.”

Thursday 7 June 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?


This book is my first case of too much YA. I have read some reviews where others have said they've read too many books on a particular subject, or books with a similar formula, and they eventually ceased to keep their interest. I never understood this. I have read hundreds of YA books, many of them similar, and I have enjoyed them all (or almost all). But now, I have read too many court intrigues and they are all starting to seem the same. I still enjoyed this a great deal and tried to give it an unbiased rating and not compare it too much to the others.

At first I found the story rather disturbing. The first 8 chapters dealt with Ismae's introduction to the order of Mortain, and her training. I didn't like the casualness in which they talked about killing people, like it would be fun. But once she went on her mission it was shown in a new light. As a way to defend her nation, like a soldier or a spy, instead of an assassin. I really did not like Mortain at first. There was always something very suspicious about the way the targets were chosen and I was blaming him. But Ismae handled everything well and made the same decisions I would have in when to follow her orders and when not to. Her heart was always in the right place and she did not follow blindly. And I was very pleased that the issue was thoroughly explored and resolved before the end. 

And I love that Ismae had a trustworthy circle of friends and allies. Sometimes in this type of book you never know who you can trust. There were certainly a lot of sketchy characters, but you always knew you could trust Beast, de Lornay, Anne, and most of all Duval. It was very comforting to know. I do not like the unease that comes with not knowing your friends from your enemies. There is no need to list Duval's many virtues, and he was a comforting presence. But I did not pine for him. I love his steady support and his unfailing loyalty and determination. He was a great character, but not my kind of man. He was too subdued and almost dispassionate. Nevertheless, he is for Ismae, not me, and I enjoyed them together. But their relationship was not fiery or passionate, and the ending was not as satisfying as it could have been. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get more closure. But I hope that they will at least be mentioned in Dark Triumph, to shed a bit more light on their fates. Anything more I can get is better than nothing. I also expect to enjoy Sybella's story.

“It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.”

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