Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before Nightshade my previous reading experience with the Werewolf/Shapeshifter genre was Shiver & Linger, which was ok but not thrilling. Nightshade though completely blew me out of the water!!!

The story centers around Calla "Cal" Tor, an Alpha female and leader of her own pack of wolf-shapeshifter Guardians called the Nightshades whose scared duty is to protect the scared site at Haldis mountain from the Searchers and follow her master Keeper's orders. Though as pretty as the Lily she was named after, Calla is anything but fragile. I think the reference "badass" comes up a few times. Destined since birth to be mated with the incredibly sexy Bane wolfpack Alpha male Renier "Ren" Laroche at the upcoming union ceremony at Samhain, Calla will help form a new Haldis wolfpack of Guardians with Ren, starting a new life together. But a whole new set of events set her off course when against her better judgment Calla saves the life of a decidedly hot wayward hiker up on Haldis mountain while on patrol. Not only does Calla break several Keepers rules by saving a human stranger's life from a grizzly bear when he should have been left to die but she also reveals her dual nature and heals him by sharing her scared blood. That is before she punches his lights out, carries him to his jeep and resolves never do something so stupid again...

Calla is resolved to put it all behind her until finds out he's the new transfer student Seamus "Shay" Doran at her school and her life becomes even more complicated than she ever thought possible. It turns out that Shay is the nephew of a Regent, a very high up Keeper and ironically Calla's charged by her new pack Keeper Logan with being Shay's "De Facto" Bodyguard, as it seems the Searchers have their eye on the strange boy. Shay had no idea as to the secret world his uncle was a part off until he met Calla and with his curiosity piqued, Shay goes on his own personal quest to find out more about Calla's world and his place in it, dragging Calla along for the ride. What they find will change what Calla thought she knew about her world forever and she will have to face one of the hardest choices in her young life.

One word to describe this book is AWESOME!!! I seriously could not put this book down from the moment I read the first page. There was action, danger, magic, romance, interesting characters and seriously hot male leads, what more can a girl want? It was interesting to read the about teenagers in a wolfpack dynamic and how they have to deal with more than just the regular run of the mill problems in their world, as the consequences of some lifestyle choices normal people take for granted can often result in a Guardian's execution. I also enjoyed the Ren Vs Shay battle over Calla and her determined yet failed attempts to be a good Alpha female and keep Shay at bay. The story was riveting and I didn't realize I had finished the book until the last page was turned.

Definitely not a book to miss and I can't wait till the next book comes out. Two thumbs waaaaaay up!!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AshAsh by Malinda Lo

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I finished this book last night and as soon as I did I thought "WTF?"...

Aisling "Ash" is definitely not your stereotypical Cinderella. Sure the usual things happen e.g. her mother dies when Ash is only really young, then her dad goes off and marries a complete stranger who's a really nasty piece of work, before he suddenly just dies. No real surprises there, though her father death did sound really awful & quite painful...

The two stepsisters Ana & Clara aren't particularly ugly in this story and though you might feel like strangling spoilt/bratty Ana every once in a while, you might surprise yourself by feeling a little pity for them both. With a mother like theirs pushing them towards a loveless marriage match for the sake of securing a title and fortune, you end up sympathizing them for their lot in life... though not TOO much.

Instead of a fairy godmother, there is seriously hot but distant fairy Sidhean (gives the Winter Prince Ash from Iron King a run for his money in frostiness). Sidhean, of the long white hair & blue eyes, has taken an interest in Ash's well being since she was a child and strikes up a strange/complicated friendship with her but it seems that Ash might be more than just the usual passing fancy to the ice cold fairy of legend. Striking bargains with the fey is a dangerous thing to do but is the promise of Sidhean's help worth risking everything Ash has grown to love in the human world?

Also there is Kaisa, the King's Huntress who seems like one of the boys but is also something apart... A woman who is independent, strong and commanding as well caring and gentle, who wins the admiration of Ash... and perhaps something more. Through a series of chance meetings, shared conversation and laughter, Kaisa and Ash also form a friendship. As Ash's story progresses her bond with Kaisa becomes stronger but will it be enough to save Ash from her promised fate and the lure of Fairie?

While I applaud Malinda Lo for her new twist to an old fairy tale and making Ash go where no Cinderella has gone before, I found the story lacking something more. There was no real spark, it seemed that the characters were just going through the paces and just plodding along to a conclusion which I saw coming. Also the climax was somewhat disappointingly anti-climatic... On the up-side I enjoyed the brief fairy yarns a character would tell from time to time. I always did like a dark themed fairy tale and it was enjoyable to read a couple of new ones I hadn't heard of before.

It wasn't a bad read but it wasn't an exceptionally great read either. Also, if you're not a particularly open-minded person you might want to give this book a miss.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crescendo (Hush, Hush, #2)Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The much awaited sequel to Hush, Hush had a lot of twists and turns, so much happens it was unbelievably crazy.

Even though the events of the previous book ended with Nora gaining Patch as her own personal and seriously hot guardian angel, she still feels guilty that she cost Patch his only chance at being human. Jealously also rears it's ugly head as Nora witnesses Patch in the company of Marcie, Queen Bee & enemy #1 since childhood, more often than she would like and in suspect situations.

Throwing a spanner into the works is Scott, a old childhood friend who moves back into the neighborhood. No longer "Scotty-the-Potty" (yes, I kid you not) but "Scotty-the-Hottie", he seems to be the solution to Nora's present boy problems but Scott is quite a bit more than he seems with dark secrets of his own and may cause more problems than he solves.

If that wasn't enough Nora also receives a mysterious parcel with a clue linking her father's murder the year before to a hidden Nephil Blood Society and a long buried family secret that could change everything Nora thought she knew about herself. As the evidence is stacking up against a person Nora thought she could trust, she must find a way to find out the truth for herself before it's too late.

Once again Nora Grey is in peril and throughout this book, in one way or another, she is always in trouble. I often caught myself wishing someone would just kill Nora and be done with it, as her immaturity and stupid decisions that she makes in result of her pride more often than not land her in danger but then there would definitely be no story to read...

Surprisingly though, because of the pace of the book, I became quite taken with the story and I found myself turning page after page to see what would happen next. I didn't find this book predictable, which was great but then I was disappointed when it turned out the main plot wasn't that much different from the first book. The fact that it had new entertaining twists and tantalizing details popping up throughout the book as well as a shock ending is probably what saved it.

Looking forward to the third book in the series.

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Wedding SeasonWedding Season by Katie Fforde

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I saw this book I was intrigued. So sue me, I'm getting married and everything that has the word "wedding" on it seems to stand out with great neon signs.

The story of the Wedding Season is about 3 different women; Sarah the cynical, straight-laced Wedding Planner who doesn't believe in happily ever afters and has serious trust issues. Elsa the gifted yet shy dressmaker who, despite her talent, always dresses in black and finds comfort in regular boring routines normal people might find dreadfully dull. And last but not least Bron, a very gifted hairdresser/make up artist of many hidden talents who is stuck in a rut of a relationship with a possessive, chauvinistic prig of a man who I wouldn't mind hitting over the head with a frying pan.

The brief professional relationships between these three women blossom into true friendship when they are given the chance to take part in the celebrity wedding of the year. One catch, they have only a couple of months to plan and put together the wedding from scratch, which so happens to fall on the same wedding date as Sarah's little sister Lily, who is on a deadline. Two weddings, three women and a lot of stressful planning to be done, you wouldn't think there would be enough time to actually fit any romance in the story right?

Bachelor #1 is Hugo, a talented photographer with a Casanova reputation who has his eye on Sarah but with her heart broken previously is Sarah strong enough to put it all in the past and trust again?

Bachelor #2 is Laurence, very dependable and friendly, who seems to be destined to always be the Bestman but never the Groom but is sweet & shy Elsa the girl who will change his mind?

Bachelor #3 is James, the boy next door with a green thumb whose conversation, smiles & omelets seem to go a long way in healing Bron's broken heart but with a broken heart of his own, will Bron have enough courage to take the first step?

Sure this book was complete fluff but fluff is occasionally good for the soul. It's a feel good book with a couple of laughs thrown in. I enjoyed reading it and seeing these three women grow as the story progressed, even though it was pretty predicable and had almost no surprises. But like I said, it's fluff but entertaining fluff that doesn't make you think too hard. Read it with a cup of something yummy.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Out for Blood (The Drake Chronicles, #3)Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Tell me about the Drake Brothers. Are they as yummy as everyone says?"

"Totally." I didn't even have to think about that one. "It was like being in a room full of Johnny Depps."

If those lines alone don't suck in you in, I don't know what else will...

The story centers around Hunter Wild (yeah, I know, awesome name), a star vampire hunter in her last year at the Helios-Ra academy and Quinn Drake, pretty boy vampire prince and infamous womanizer. When the Helios-Ra academy is over run by a mysterious illness that is slowly killing off the student body and the Hel-Blar are attacking at an increasing rate, it's up to Hunter to find out why and how to stop it but when her best friend has gone off the deep end and her teachers seem to be clueless, who can she trust? Quinn on the other hand is quite the lady's man and doesn't seem to think beyond the next pretty face but there is something about Hunter that makes her stand out from all the others and against his better judgment he finds himself drawn to her and her cause but is this more than just a passing fancy?

If you liked My Love Lies Bleeding and Blood Feud, you will love Out for Blood. I actually surprised myself by how much I really enjoyed this book. The story pulls you in from the beginning and the comical banter between characters old and new, as well the fast paced action makes for an entertaining read. I can't wait from the next book in the Drake Chronicles, bring it on!!!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

RecklessReckless by Cornelia Funke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Personally I love re-written fairy tales but even I know there are only so many ways a story can be told before it begins to wear thin. Which is why Reckless is such a refreshing story. It's not a re-written fairy tale but a new tale of love, adventure and danger in a land of magic, where the tales we thought we knew like the back of our hand have a life of their own.

When Jacob Reckless was a child his father all of a sudden disappeared with no trace. Angered by his father's abandonment, his mother's helplessness and his younger brother's endless dependency, Jacob often escaped to his father's locked study to get away from it all. What Jacob never expected to find was a new world of magic and adventure through the mirror, where both myth & legend come to life. As the years went by Jacob finds a new home and friends in the strange, dangerous Mirrorworld and is now a renowned hunter of treasures. A glass slipper, a golden ball, a golden tree, a wishing table; the tasks he undertook were never to dangerous to discourage Jacob and his shape-shifter companion Fox.

But when his younger brother Will unwittingly follows Jacob into the mirror, the carefully constructed wall between the life he left behind and the life he created in the Mirrorworld comes crashing down like glass. Infected by a Goyle, a race of humanoid creatures with hard skins made of semi precious stone (think the Thing from the Fantastic Four) that are at War with the humans in the Mirrorworld, Will is slowly becoming the mythical Jade Goyle that is much sought after by the Dark Fairy, mistress to the Goyle King & hunted for what he is turning into by the humans. If that isn't bad enough Clara, Will's girlfriend, also crosses into the Mirrorworld and further complicates matters in more ways than one. It's now a race against time to save Will from the Dark Fairy's curse as the Jade takes over his body and himself, for in the Mirrorworld not every tale has a happy ending...

If someone had transplanted the young Indiana Jones into a wonderland where myth and fairy tales were common place, Reckless would be it. In this dark tale adventure, danger and romance all make an appearance in this book with a big dash of magic. When I first started reading the book I wasn't quite sure exactly what was going on... but once I got past the initial stage I really got into it and seriously could not put it down. It's a unique story but the ending left me hanging. I really hope there's a sequel.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lord LightningLord Lightning by Jenny  Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yes, I know, another romance novel but one with a surprising cast of characters that are not your typical romance stereotypes.

Sure, you have to have your penniless/innocent heroine from the early 1800s but she is far from the "twist-your-ankle"/"help me!" damsel in distress that usually turns my head in disgust. When her good for nothing father suddenly appears in her life and then just as quickly spends the rest of her small dowry before being thrown into a debtors prison, Eliza Farrell sucks it up and uses her skill in astrological fortune telling to try and make enough to save her most precious possessions; her books and yes, her father. The fact that Eliza would do what she could to save her books and not only that but she is also a big fan of Jane Austen, had me cheering for her from the get go.

When Eliza consults the stars and unknowingly describes the infamous rake, womanizer & emotionally unavailable yet seriously hot Lord Edward "Lord Lightning" Hartwood as being "capable of great, passionate love", among other his hearing... her destiny is changed forever. Determined to teach Eliza a lesson for convincing his mistress to leave him and prove her wrong about her characterization of him, Lord Hartwood strikes a bargain with Eliza...

If Eliza accompanies Lord Hartwood to his mother's house for a fortnight as a replacement mistress to help him fulfill the conditions in his dead brother's inheritance will, Lord Hartwood will not only save Eliza's books but pay for her father's release and then give her further funds to do with what she wishes at the end of their contract. The only conditions are that they will not sleep together, Eliza must not fall in love with Lord Hartwood and that she stops trying to find redeeming qualities in Lord Lightning. Eliza, confident in her assessment of Lord Hartwood's character and in her own acting skills, agrees. How hard can it be right?

Throw in a evil/conniving mother from hell, a few scandalous scenes, some interesting exchanges and a couple of family secrets revealed, what follows is a quite entertaining series of events which proves Lord Hartwood and Eliza have no idea what they have gotten themselves into. Lord Hartwood begins to realise Eliza is far from the usual delicate ladies he had known before and Eliza catches glimpses of a kind, caring man hiding behind the mysterious facade that is Lord Lightning, much to Lord Hartwood's surprise and possible horror. Hilarious!!!

Corniness was kept to a minimal and even though my surprising need for revenge wasn't quite satisfied enough (you'll have to read to find out why), overall it wasn't a bad read and I wouldn't mind reading it again.

Note: Received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, # 1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices #1), prequel to Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, does not disappointment. And if you're like me and the whole implied "incest" side plot in the first series made you cringe, you can breath a little easier.

Set in the late 1880s London, it is story of Theresa "Tessa" Gray who leaves America after the death of her aunt and follows the promise of a new home with her brother Nate in London. Once in London, Tessa finds not all it what it seems, especially herself, when Nate goes M.I.A and she is abducted by the Dark Sisters. Captured by Warlocks with no hope of rescue and with only her mother's keepsake, a little clockwork angel, to keep her company, Tessa is taught to harness a unique power within her that she never knew existed but to what end?

Meanwhile William "Will" Herondale and James "Jem" Carstairs, Shadowhunters and best friends, are following a trail started by the discovery of a blade with a Ouroboros symbol near a dead girl killed under mysterious circumstances. What they did not expect to find is the threat of a new type of enemy, an army of magical mechanical automatons headed by the mysterious Magister & Tessa at the center of it all.

Ok, the beginning it did drag a little and I was not a big fan of Tessa. I found her naive & overly trusting, so the climax of the book didn't really surprise me. Though towards the end Tessa did seem to grow the beginnings of a back bone, intriguing enough to keep me interested. Will reminds me of Jace from Mortal Instruments, as they both have a similar sense of smart-mouth humour(surprise, surprise)which is pretty entertaining. The budding love triangle between Will-Tessa-Jem is also something that will leave me hanging out to see who will get the girl. Bad-Boy Will with a heart of stone who may not be all that he seems or Jem, a sweet and caring outcast with a heart of gold whose hiding a deadly secret?

Considering I'm not usually a fan of prequels, I was pleasantly surprised with this latest installment in the Shadowhunter world and looking forward to the next book, City of Fallen Angels, when it comes out.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Glimmerglass (Faeriewalker, #1)Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Glimmerglass is based on the present day but in an alternate universe where Avalon exists and is pretty much it's own state within England. Kind of like the Vatican within Italy.

The story centers around Dana Hathaway, a not so typical independent teenager who is sick of dealing with an alcoholic for a mother and runs away to her father in Avalon. Nothing could be worse that putting up with the endless humiliation of an alcoholic mother, right?

What follows is a story filled with fae political intrigue, kidnapping, battles with unseelie monsters, betrayal and romance, as Dana finds out she is a Fairiewalker, special type of halfbreed human/fae that can see the Glimmerglass and travel between worlds. Not only that but Dana can also transport human technology into Fairie and bring magic into the human world, which turns her into the most prized ally or most feared enemy, depending on who ends up controlling her first. With her freedom/life threatened, who can Dana really trust?

To be honest, I really struggled through the first 134 pages this book. The whole "Dana wakes up, Dana gets attacked, Dana doesn't know who to trust, Dana goes to sleep" vicious cycle got old pretty fast, so by the time I got to page 135 I was hoping for something new or I was giving up on this book. Ethan, a cute fae boy and his sister Kimber are what kept me going till page 135. Ethan has the typical "Gods Gift to Women" ego that makes either you want to snuggle up to him when he oozes charm or kick him in the jewels and dump a cup of coffee in his face. I suggest you keep reading to find out which one Dana ends up doing. Kimber on the other hand, is smart and sick of standing in her big brother's shadow. Getting to see Kimber beyond her ice princess charm and reading about her homemade cure-all possets (would love to get the recipe), was a pleasant experience.

From page 135 things get interesting as you are finally introduced to Dana's father, Finn - her super hot Knight bodyguard & Keane - an fae Emo-wannabe who has some awesome combat moves but a bad boy attitude. The exchanges between Dana & Keane are especially entertaining...

I don't want to spoil it too much for you, so I'll just say if you end up despairing between pages 1-135, just keep going as it does get better. Eagerly anticipating the next installment on the Fairiewalker series called Shadowspell.

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