Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

"It's beautiful." Fascination replaced fear, and I ran my fingertip along the automaton's sleeve. The velvet was nearly as soft as a rabbit's fur, and beneath it traced the line of a metallic skeleton.

We find our heroine Nimira (Nim) dancing & singing as a "trouser girl" on a dank music hall for a living in New Sweeling. Nim was once the daughter of a privileged family in the court of Tiansher but after her mother, a favourite in the Royal Court Troupe, died everything changed for the worst and Nimira set sail leaving everything behind to seek her fortune.When she catches the eye of dashing sorcerer Hollin Parry, he offers her an escape from her dreary existence but at what cost?

In return for a home, new clothes & food in her belly Nim must sing in accompaniment to an Automan, a fairy-made clockwork man who plays a pianoforte when wound up with a key.

Large brown eyes stared glassily ahead from a finely crafted face, its lips shut and perked in a smile. I nearly believed it could come to life with the slightest provocation. Soft brown hair framed its forehead and cheekbones, with delicate ears poking out, and the rest drawn back at his neck into a blue satin bow.

Sounds easy right? As the story continues you find that the Automan is infamous in the Parry household for being haunted and that previously hired female singers have often not lasted longer than a day or two in its presence. If a haunted Automan wasn't enough, she also has to contend with Miss Rashten, a keeper of dark secrets hidden in the manor that makes her disapproval of Nim very clear and Mr Smollings, the new creepy Ambassador of Magic, who has more than keen interest in the Automan & Parry household. Does Nim have the courage to discover the truth?

Once I picked up and started reading the book I got sucked right in. Lovers of enchantments, fairies & hidden secrets will love this book. You can't help but admire Nim for her determination & courage through the course of the story. I hope that there is a sequel coming out soon, as the ending left it open to the possibility of a further adventure.

P.S. The characters I imagined as I read the book looked nothing like the ones on the front cover... I guess the illustrator didn't really read the book =-p

Pages: 225 pages

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: Ondine by Ebony McKenna

"What is the point of falling in love with a man if he turns back into a ferret when the moon goes down?"

Brugel is a country where the strange and unusual are not only tolerated, they are encouraged. So when Ondine finds was appears to be cute little ferret in her secret stash of food at Psychic Summer Camp, she unwittingly adopts him & doesn't bat an eyelash. When Shambles the Ferret turns out to be seriously hot Hamish McPhee the Laird of Glen Logan, a dark haired boy with roguish twinkle in his green eyes & a scottish brogue, cursed into the shape of a ferret for 80 years, things get a bit complicated.

Throw in a secret long-lost treasure, a historical mystery, secret romances, witchy aunt Col, an assassination attempt & handsome Lord Vincent, Ondine is having seriously difficult time keeping herself out of trouble, let alone finding the time to break the spell, with or without Shambles' help.

When I first started reading it I thought maybe this is a just another book aimed at the pre-teen to mid teen audience but as the story progressed I couldn't help but be sucked into the fairy tale and the hilarious witty banter, not to mention being educated in scottish brogue or entertained with fun facts by the author's footnotes that can be found on pages every so often.

"Ye canty wrassler, A'll dun't ye!"(1) His accent came back thick & strong. "A'll gar claw whaur it's no yeukie!(2) A'll saut brose, Old Col!(3) Ma tongue isna unner yer belt!(4)"

(1) You liar, I'm going to bash you. (2) I'll put my fist where it's not welcome. (3) I'll get my revenge. (4) And don't think about trying to silence me.

I don't want to ruin it for you, so I'll just say Shambles is guaranteed to give you a few chuckles, it definitely did have me giggling on the bus.

One Girl. One Boy. One Spell to be Broken...

One Seriously Entertaining Book to be Read!!!

Pages: 292

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Yes, I know, another Vampire Book. I couldn't help it. When I saw this in the book store I was intrigued by the story... but apart from what it could have been, the author of this book has all but butchered it's possibilities.

The main character is called Rae Seddon (a.k.a Sunshine) who, needing to get away from her life for a little, decides to take a break by driving to the local lake for a respite. Before she knows it she is kidnapped by a gang of vampires who makes her strip, put on a red dress & shackles her to a wall in an abandoned mansion. Did I forget to mention that also shackled in the same room is another vampire who has been starved for a very, very long time? Interesting development, no?

Now Robin McKinley has created a very interesting world where the present is the after days of the Voodoo Wars, where humans along side demons, were-animals fought against the villainous vampires who now control most of the wealth of the world. A sort of uneasy peace governed by the SOF (considered the Vampire Police) has settled in Old Town where Sunshine lives, as humans know but ignore the fact that a lot of the population contains part bloods, humans who have half demon, fairy or were-animal in them. Sometimes it's appears harmlessly, like Mary who always pours hot coffee every time but sometimes it can twist a person and make them psychotic, which is Sunshine greatest fear.

Sunshine considers herself a small changer, a person with the magic ability to change objects from one thing to another, like flowers into feathers but since meeting Constantine (Con) the vampire and during the course of following events Sunshine ends up finding out a lot more about herself, her mysterious family, her magical ability & vampires, more so than she ever wanted to know as she is quite happy pretending to be normal & to go along baking cinnamon rolls for the local coffee house for the rest of her life... yes, I know, how dull...

As I read the book I couldn't help but notice that Sunshine is one of 4 things during the course of the story: Fearful, Angry, Insanely Hysterical or Numb... and it's very hard to like her as a character. Sunshine's new acquaintance Con has the personality of statue but he's an old vampire, so it's a little easier to understand, though even he seems to have more depth to his character than Sunshine.

Now McKinley seems to overcompensate for Sunshine's lack of character by making her over explain everything in her thoughts. Most of the book is just paragraphs and paragraphs of Sunshine blathering on in an attempt to explain things that exist in her world that sometimes don't need explaining. What happened to leaving somethings out so the reader gets a chance to use their imagination. If you give use bits of information here and there I'm sure readers can connect the dots but no, McKinley seems to want to spoon feeds us, so the story often feels like it's taking painfully forever to get to the point.

I was often tempted to just skip to the end just to see if this Beauty & the Beast vs the Vampire World-esque story was worth reading but my need to know if Sunshine & Con would get beyond casual, if not painfully blase, friendship spurred me on.... Apart from an almost raunchy scene, I repeat almost raunchy, nothing happens between them besides the invisible bond they share since their time spent as prisoners... somewhat disappointing, considering on the book's front cover is says "....A mesmerizing SF horror romance..." False advertising anyone?

If anything McKinley has managed to create something unlike any vampire book before and then gentley smothered all it's possibilities while drowning it in her need to overspeak. Again, so disappointing.

Don't read this unless it's your absolute last resort and your very, very desperate.

Pages: 475 pages

Other Books by McKinley: The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, The Outlaws of Sherwood.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey

Now there are two types of Vampire books. There's the corny ones filled with cliche undying loves scenes that make you either want to hurl or shoot yourself. Then there are the ones that take you by surprise and give a breath of fresh air to an overused, sometimes overrated genre.

My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey isn't as corny as the title suggests. The story centers around two girls who are as different as two people can be but are the best of friends. Lucky (a.k.a Lucy) Hamilton is a unique human teenager whose temper makes her punch first, ask questions later & is loyal to a fault. Solange (a.k.a Sol) Drake is also unique. Not only because she's the only girl in a blue-blood vampire family of 7 older brothers but also in a "first born female vampire in 900 years" with seriously crazy boy problems kind of way... Cat hearts anyone?

As the story progress you find out that Sol is going through her last days as being human as her 16th birthday approaches & the bloodchange creeps ever closer. On one side Sol's pheromones are on over drive making all the male vampires outside her immediate family throw themselves at her in a love-crazed frenzy, send her flowers & seriously strange gifts. On the other side a human organization of Vampire Hunters called Helios-Ra have suddenly started attacking the Drake family for unknown reasons, even under a treaty. One of which is Kieran Black, seriously cute but hellbent on exacting revenge on the Drake family for murder of his dad.

If that wasn't bad enough Sol's birth was prophecized centuries ago stating a female born to the Drake clan will rise to become Queen of the Vampires & unite all the vampire tribes together. Geez, pressure anyone?

Lucy on the other hand feels that she's is the weakest link in the defense around Sol, so she learned combat skills & weaponry from Sol mum in order to hold her own in protecting her best friend from those who wish her harm. As the battle & danger escalates she finds herself drawn closer to Sol's brother Nicholas, a guy filled with endless feuding/teasing banter since childhood & who usually makes Lucy want to poke him in the eye with a fork. Is it just the vampire pheromones at work making her see him differently or is it something more?

If you want a sappy vampire romance filled with corny confessions of love I suggest you read Twilight, as this isn't that type of book. If you want a little more out of your vampire book, with tender moments, funny banter & exciting battle scenes pick up this book, though I'll warn you once you start reading you'll want to keep reading till the last page.

Book Pages: 248
Book also known as: Hearts at Stake
Book Series : Drake Chronicles
Next Book: Blood Feud (Release Date: July 2010)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: Some Girls - My Life in a Harem by Jill Lauren

Thought I'd take a break from the supernatural & fantasy genre. And WOW did I ever!!!

Jillian Lauren's book "Some Girls" looks into her life as a modern day Harem Girl. If you're thinking I Dream of Jeannie stylized fantasies be prepared for a rude awakening.

Jill was a normal teenage girl who has gone through the typical angst & rebellious stage everyone else goes through, wanting more out of life that what she already had. The choices Jill makes during the course of her story eventually takes her away from everything she has ever known and lands her in what she first thinks is paradise compared to her usual everyday life. Little does she know that it's not all about filthy rich princes, fast cars, gorgeous jewelery, luxurious surroundings & jet setting overseas for outrageous shopping sprees.

I fell victim to Stockholm Syndrome,” Lauren writes. “I knew I was a hooker, but somehow I felt like Cinderella.”

Vying for the attention of a prince who is charming & handsome,if emotionally unavailable, Jill finds herself in a gilded cage where there is no such thing as friends, only allies & enemies. How much of herself is Jill willing to trade up to get what she wants? Is anything worth giving up her freedom? Her humanity? Her sanity?

If you want a sugar coated fairy tale this is not your book. But if you are curious as to what it's like on the other side, what it truly takes. When you have well and truly crossed some lines in pursuit of something might seem unattainable, then read this book.

Jill's memoir funny, sexy, heart breaking, outrageous & full of feeling.

Truly an extraordinary story that you don't come across very often... Once you've read Some Girls you will never forget it.


Book Pages Total: 339 pages

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

"Hear the trees a-listening, feel the fire whispering. See the wind a-telling me all the forest dreams."

I am a great lover of Folklore & Fairy Tales, ever since I was a little girl. So if I see a old tale with a fresh new twist I will usually end up reading it and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale was no exception.

Now the main character of this book is called Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee (Ani for short), Crown Princess of Kildenree and for the first third of the book you end up just wanting to slap her every time she utters a "Ah, yes" or "Um, thank you".

Sheltered by her father & heavily criticized by her mother, Ani is estranged to all (including her siblings) except her nursemaid aunt who fills her head with folktales of people who can speak with nature & lady-in-waiting called Selia who has a gift for getting her way. Ani has as much back bone as a limp noodle, is as meek as a mouse and beyond naive, so you think it would be hard to sympathize with her but a small part of you will. The ultimate royal misfit, Ani's only talent is a firm grasp on bird linguistics and a strange affinity with the element of air, which alienates her even more from her fellow peers & brands her as a bit loopy in country which does not tolerate the magical/unexplainable.

But that's not the end of her troubles. Following the tragedy of her father's unexpected death she finds herself replaced as the heir of the Kingdom by her younger brother & shipped off to marry a prince from a neighboring Kingdom of Bayern, who she has never met, in the hopes this alliance will prevent invasion or, in a worse case scenario, war. Before Ani gets halfway to Bayern she finds herself a victim of identity theft as Selia convinces the dodgy half of the royal escort party to crown her princess instead, kill Ani & marry the prince herself.

"You, what are you? The brat of lucky parents who were related to childless king. There is no such thing as royal blood."

What happens next you will have to read for yourself to find out but you will not be disappointed. As the story of Ani progresses you'll see her grow in confidence & character, finding friendship, love & acceptance where she least expects it. The book is filled with colourful characters, goodhearted humor, dangereous battle and you go from almost despising Ani to cheering her on towards the end of the book.

It's addictive & you will not want to put it down until you find out what happens in the end.

Pages Total: 383 pages
Series: Books of Bayern.
Other Novels in the Books of Bayern Series: Enna Burning, River Secrets & Forest Born.
Other Novels by Author : Book of a Thousand Days & Princess Academy.

Welcome to the BookWyrm Lair

I love to read and if I had a chance I would have a personal in-built wall to wall library complete with the sliding staircase filled with endless shelves of books and a comfy reading chair...

I devour books like there is no tomorrow (just ask my BF & Friends) and love losing myself in the different worlds of adventure others have created. If I like a book, I tend to check out other books written by the same author or see if the book is part of a series.

My friends usually ask me what books to read next based on authors or genres they have read previously. So in a way, this blog is for them.

Hope you like my reviews and if you have any questions just let me know :)

- MystGrrl