Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal/Mythology, Sci-fi/Dystopian, Romance
Publication Date: August 20th 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.


This book was super awesome and I am tempted to give it 5-stars, but I think I am gonna have to stick to 4 for a couple of reasons. The first being the major info-dumping that happened in the first 50 pages of the book. I had some trouble getting through that, but I hope you will find it easier, after reading this and knowing that greatness is waiting on the other side. The other reason this loses a star is because of the amount of different clairvoyants there are, and trying to keep track of them all, and their weird names and what they all mean. Some are straightforward; like soothsayers, and mediums, and necromancers. Others are not; like drymimancers, astragalomancers, and cleidomancers. These kinds of words kept getting thrown at us as if we were supposed to know what it meant. Eventually I had to just give up and skim over them. Although, you can sometimes pick up what they mean from the context.
One of the first things you need to know before starting this book is that there is absolutely no basis for any comparison to J.K. Rowling. That is a ludicrous claim that no one should have ever made. If Samantha Shannon's writing emulates anyone, it would be Veronica Roth. World and tone-wise, I would compare this to The Hunger Games. And characters and romance-wise, I would compare this to Shatter Me and Half-Blood. I thought it was absolutely engrossing, but its still just a YA paranormal. A great YA paranormal. Story and mythology-wise there is nothing I can think to compare this to.
  The story starts out with Paige in Scion, explaining to us how clairvoyants have become feared and hunted over the years, starting with the alternate history of King Edward VII. The info-dumping explains Scion's underworld, but its not really that important. After less than 50 pages Paige is taken away to Sheol. Sheol is a hidden city where supernatural beings who have made a pact with the Scion government, take clairvoyants to enslave them. The Rephaim of Jewish mythology are giant, beautiful beings from the netherworld. Its a complex mythology and I am sure there is still a lot more to learn about them in the future books.

Paige's new master is Arcturus, usually called Warden. He is intimidating and a strict task-master as he teaches her to use her gift to become a soldier fighting the Emim, creatures that followed the Rephaim from the netherworld. I hated him so much at the beginning. He never beat her like the other keepers, but he let bad things happen to her and other people, and he tried to force her to cooperate. But Paige's spirit was strong. She was a fighter. In that way she reminded me of Juliette and how she fought against Warner in book 1 of Shatter Me. How she refused to play his games. 

“I looked at him and he looked at me. A moment. A choice. My choice. His choice.”

But unlike in Shatter Me, there is no love-triangle in this. As much as I hated Warden in the beginning, I suspected he would become the love interest, and the book actually brought me around to that idea by the end. I was rooting for Warden way sooner than I would have expected myself to, considering how much I hated him in the beginning. He was stoic, and mysterious, but you could tell how much he was watching out for Paige. He took care of her as much as he could get away with before it would become suspicious. And in that way, he reminded me of Warner, and I really recommend this book for fans of Shatter Me. I am very curious where their relationship will go in the end. It is a planned 7-books series, so they have a long journey ahead of them.

This series is a lot darker than the average YA novel, though. The Rephaim were torturing and killing humans left, right, and center. There was always a sense of danger and mystery, because we didnt know how much danger Paige was really in. How many of the Rephaim knew what she was up to? Did Warden know? What did he want from her? You never really knew, until it was too late. Its a really unique, complex world that captivated me. I highly recommend this book!

“I would never see him again.But as I watched the tunnel race before my eyes, I was certain of one thing: I did trust him. Now I had only to trust in myself.”

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Deception's Web by Crista McHugh (Deizian Empire #3)

Genres: Adult, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: December 7th 2013
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 8 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


A soldier looking for redemption falls into the arms of the empire's Black Widow...

Galerius, former Captain of the Legion, is honored to be given a chance to redeem himself by discovering who is behind the failing barrier. A series of anonymous letters all point to Hostilius, governor of Lucrilia, but Galerius thinks he'll learn more about the plot by seducing the governor's thrice widowed daughter, Claudia. Although he warns himself not to fall into snare of the empire's most deadly temptress, one kiss leaves him begging for more.

Claudia has spent years as a pawn in her father's political games and longs to break free of his rule, even it means betraying him to the emperor. When Galerius arrives in Tivola, she's not sure if he's there to aid her father or stop him. She willingly submits to his seduction, despite their class differences, in order to find the truth. What she doesn't expect to find is a man who indulges her secret fantasies, satisfying her in a way none of her previous husbands did, and treats her as something more than a conquest. As time runs out to thwart her father's plans, she must decide if she can trust Galerius not only with her life, but her heart.


I enjoyed this one more than Poisoned Web, and almost as much as Tangled Web. The thing I loved the most about this book was the tension and level of danger in Galerius' mission. The scene in the tunnels at the end really had my heart racing.

Galerius and Claudia were as strong characters as the previous leads, and I can't really say who my favourites are. I love them all. I think I may have a soft spot for the brooding Galerius though. I am so happy that he got an HEA. He deserved it. So did Claudia. Its hard to believe that she is the same person who was trying to steal the Emperor from Azurha in book one.

The story in this one was well developed and I loved seeing Galerius' slowly unraveling Hostilius' plot. And the romance was perfectly paced. At first I was thinking it was all just sex, but before I knew it I could see their relationship developing into something so much deeper. It may have been too long since I read Tangled Web, but I think perhaps the relationship between Galerius and Claudia is my favourite of the series. They make a perfect pair.

I absolutely adore the beautiful world Crista McHugh created for this series, and she could always write much more set in the Deizian Empire. I would not be apposed to that a story about Marcus.

“Its practically suicide. And for what? For some woman?" 
"Not just some woman." He grabbed a dagger and strapped it to his thigh under his tunic. "The woman. The only one I'll ever need or want.”

Sunday 3 November 2013

Switched by Cassie Mae

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Romance
Publication Date: December 2nd 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense.
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Ever since high school, Kayla has been crazy for gorgeous football player Talon. But before she could muster the courage to tell him, he became a hot item with her beautiful BFF, Reagan. The only person who knows Kayla’s secret is Wesley, Talon’s best bud—and he’s got it bad for Reagan. Now they’re all in college together, hanging out 24/7. For Kayla, seeing the two lovebirds together is absolutely unbearable. So Kayla and Wesley hatch a plot to drive them apart before Talon has a chance to give Reagan the Christmas gift she’s been waiting for.

Soon enough, the once happy couple is fighting. Reagan suddenly can’t get enough of Wesley’s goofy sense of humor, and Talon seems to be paying more attention to Kayla than a guy who’s “only a friend” ever should. But just when everything seems to be falling into place, Kayla and Wesley accidentally spend a night together and discover a hitch in their plan they never considered: that switching partners may not lead to a perfect ending after all.


This book still had Cassie Mae's writing style, great humour, and cute characters, but the whole concept and the story just did not work for me.

So, to start out, there is a love-square. Reagan and Talon are together, but Reagan's best friend, Kayla, is also in love with Talon. And Talon's best friend, Wesley, is also in love with Reagan. So Kayla and Wesley get together and make a plan to break up Reagan and Talon and steal their best friends' significant others. Horrible people and worst BFFs of all time? Yep.

So not only was this a horrible plan for moral reasons, but its pretty obvious from the beginning that Kayla and Wesley have great chemistry. So I could see from a mile away where this was going to lead, even though I hadn't read the blurb before starting the book.

The best part of this book was definitely Wesley. There is no denying that Cassie Mae is great at creating adorably awkward male characters with great senses of humour. Her books are for people who enjoy realistic stories with real guys. Her books don't have larger than life, too-good-to-be-true love interests. Every scene with Wesley was worth reading, and I enjoyed seeing him and Kayla falling in love. But it just took too damn long!

Even while Kayla was thinking, "Has Wesley always been that cute? Why does he give me butterflies?" she still refers to Talon as her soul mate. It really got tedious after like 20%. Not only was the obvious shouting in their faces, they were pretty much admitting it to their own faces, and still not realizing what it was they were admitting! Gah! I wanted to pull my hair out. And at the end, they both admit that they want each other several times more than they ever wanted Reagan or Talon. Yet they wanted Talon and Reagan enough to fight dirty for them. To come up with their evil plan. Yet they never really fought for each other until now. It didn't really make sense.

Then of course there is the little twist. [I cant really believe that Reagan and Talon planned everything. It was ridiculously far fetched. And they would have to be like the best actors of all time to fool their best friends for months. And Reagan was seriously bawling her eyes out when she "broke up" with Talon. Did she fake that too? Its just too much for me to swallow. Not to mention the fact that it is almost as evil as what Kayla and Wesley did. They only get a little credit for the fact that they had better intentions. But if my friends ever fooled me so completely, plotted and lied and put me through so much pain on the hunch that we would make a good couple, I would have crucified them. Not to mention how stupid and embarrassed I would feel. Seriously, maybe I am just not a good person, but I think if I had gone through that, and even given that I did end up with the guy they were trying to force me on, I don't think I would ever be able to be friends with them again. Setting friends up on a date, maybe lying about it being a group outing, and then all opting out at the last minute, that's one thing. But this level of deception is not something I am ok with. ]

Not to mention the fact that I hated Reagan. She was so annoying! And kind of a bitch. Seriously, what did either of those guys see in her? Although Kayla clearly belonged with Wesley, I could still kind of see her with Talon. He was a nice guy. But Wesley or Talon with Reagan? Not really.

This book is listed as NA, but I am listing it as YA. Even though the characters are all in their first year of college, it reads like a YA, and the immaturity level is pretty extreme. There is nothing graphic either. Lots of making-out, but that's it. I really would have loved this book if it was about Wesley and Kayla in a completely different scenario. And I still really look forward to reading How to Date a Nerd, because I really enjoy her writing style.

“I love my best friend’s boyfriend. But I swear, I saw him first.”
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