Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

book cover of The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

Title: The Dust of 100 Dogs
Author: A.S. King
Release date: February 8, 2009
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 336
Source: Bookstore
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): TBR

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

The Dust of 100 Dogs is unlike any book I’ve ever read.  The whole concept is completely unique and if A.S. King’s other books are anything like this one, I’ll definitely enjoy them.

The cover is totally what drew me to this book and normally I wouldn’t mention the cover in a review but I couldn’t resist.  After reading the book I realized just how perfect the cover was.  It’s always nice to have a book cover that actually fits what’s going in inside the book.
Okay now on to the stuff that really matters.  I’ll start off with the one thing that bothered me about The Dust of 100 Dogs: the characters.  I loved both Emer and Saffron but I never truly felt like I connected with either one of them.  Emer was this fierce pirate who was completely awesome but kind of hard to relate to.  Saffron was a brilliant teenager who was like Emer in a lot of ways but unique in some ways too.  She was rather cold though and just like Emer, hard to relate to.  I didn’t feel all that invested in either story.  However, if I had to choose I would definitely say that I liked reading Emer’s story more.  And even though the girls are the same person, things have changed over the centuries and Emer is only partially there now.  Saffron has become her own person and it was easy to see how Emer and Saffron were different from each other.  
The Dust of 100 Dogs tells two different stories.  One is Emer’s story from the past and one is Saffron’s story from present day.  Emer’s story was so much more gripping than Saffron’s.  That’s what I expected though.  Emer is a pirate!  Her life is exciting.  There’s always something going on with her.  I found myself dying to get back to her story every time there was a point-of-view change.  Saffron’s story was more calm but still interesting.  She remembers everything from her 100 lives as a dog and also from her life as Emer.  She’s completely brilliant, a little crazy, and pretty awesome.  While her story wasn’t as exciting as Emer’s, it was still interesting enough to keep me reading.
Overall, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of The Dust of 100 Dogs if you want to stray from the normal YA fare.  It’s a quick, fun read that will leave you dying to check out more of A.S. King’s books.

What others are saying about The Dust of 100 Dogs:

The Book Smugglers’ review: The Dust of 100 Dogs is a gritty and tragic tale of one girl who is an honest-to-God pirate who kills and maims and steals.” 

Small Review’s review:I wish I had never read this book and it was only the hope of Emer’s story improving that kept me reading until the end.”

Jen Robinson’s Book Page’s review: The Dust of 100 Dogs is complex and dark (though with flashes of humor).” 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Doon (Doon #1) by Carey Corp and Lori Langdon

book cover of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Title: Doon (Doon #1)
Author: Carey Corp, Lorie Langdon
Release date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 368
Source: ALA
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): None

Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

Doon wasn’t really on my radar until I went to ALA.  A few bloggers that I talked to were really excited about it so I decided to pick up a copy and check it out.  While it was a fun, entertaining read, I really didn’t love it like I’d hoped and it was a bit of a disappointment.
First off I will say this, the writing is great.  That’s what originally hooked me.  I started reading the first few pages just to check it out and I couldn’t really stop.  I wasn’t all that invested in the characters or the story but the writing made me keep reading.  That’s definitely one area where I was not disappointed with Doon.
However, things kind of went downhill from there.  Veronica and MacKenna really didn’t appeal to me.  I didn’t care what happened to them, one way or the other.  They weren’t bad characters but they just weren’t anything special.  They didn’t have personalities that made them stand out to me.  Also, while most of the story is told from Veronica’s point-of-view, there are some chapters from MacKenna’s.  Normally that doesn’t bother me but in this instance I was a little confused at times.  I’d forget whose point-of-view I was reading from.  They were too similar to me and after a while they just kind of blended together.
The guys were nothing special either.  Jamie and Duncan were kind of stuck-up.  Jamie was a total jerk from the start and Duncan was just a little too perfect.  And once Jamie got past his mean phase, he became perfect too.  I’m sorry, but I need some flaws with my love interests.  These two were just a little too cheesy for me.  Some of the lines they used just made me crack up.
The story itself was fun but kind of predictable.  I would have liked a little more mystery surrounding the witch.  It was actually pretty easy to tell who it was from the first time you met her.  Also, Veronica believed everything just a little too easily.  I feel like modern girls wouldn’t just automatically believe in this hidden kingdom and a fairy tale love.  I don’t know though, maybe that’s just me.
I also felt that the book could have been a little shorter.  I felt like there was a lot of unnecessary things thrown in, more for filler than anything else.  The book just started dragging because of that.
Overall, Doon is an okay start to this series.  I’m not sure that I’ll be reading the second book but I’d still recommend this one if it sounds like something you’ll enjoy.
What others are saying about Doon:
Parajunkee’s review: DOON was a yummy, swoon-worthy read that I could not get enough of!”

All Things Urban Fantasy’s review: “While not perfect, once I got settled in, DOON was enjoyable and fun, with a very satisfying true love and goodness triumph over evil plot-line, not to mention more references to musical theater than I could count!”

Fire and Ice’s review: The voice, the beautiful setting and pacing come together along with awesome characters to make an unforgettable story.” 


Series:
Doon (#1)
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

book cover of Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Title: Starry Nights
Author: Daisy Whitney
Release date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 288
Source: BEA
Reading level:  YA
Challenge(s): None

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can’t help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world’s greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they’ve ever known.

Starry Nights, Daisy Whitney’s first non-contemporary book, kind of let me down.  I was expecting the amazing writing, setting, and story from Daisy Whitney’s previous books and I just didn’t get that.  I enjoyed Starry Nights but it’s not something I’d ever read again.
Starry Nights starts off slow and doesn’t really pick up.  There’s not a lot of action or suspense and I found myself enjoying reading it but never really wondering where it would go or speeding through it to see what would happen.  There’s magic and curses and fun stuff like that but I never felt a sense of urgency regarding any of it.
Another thing that was odd to me was the writing.  It was a lot less fluid than the writing in Daisy Whitney’s other books.  Also, Julien just didn’t seem as authentic as Daisy Whitney’s other characters.  She definitely got the male voice right but he was a little too romantic for any teenage boy I know.  Maybe that’s just because I don’t know any French teenagers.  Sometimes he just seemed a little fake to me.
There were some good things about Starry Nights though.  I’ve never been all that into art but I felt like I learned a lot and it actually made me really interested in it.  There was also some really fabulous history thrown into the story which really intrigued me since I’m such a history buff.  I know that won’t appeal to everyone but to me, it was probably the best thing about the book.
I also really enjoyed the setting.  Anything set in Paris is fabulous and Daisy Whitney definitely didn’t write about the typical parts of Paris.  She showed readers a very different side to the city and I really enjoyed that.  Paris came alive in Starry Nights.
Overall, if you’re looking for something quick to read on a rainy day, give this one a shot.  It won’t be for everyone but it is a pretty fun read.
What others are saying about Starry Nights:
Mundie Moms’ review: “I love it when a book blurs the lines between reality and the exciting “what if”.” 

The White Unicorn’s review: So, while I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of Starry Nights, I think that I am a fan of Daisy Whitney.”

Refracted Light Reviews’ review: Overall, Starry Nights is an intriguing glimpse into France and its rich artistic collections.” 

Other reviews for this author:
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Sunday, August 4, 2013

Readers’ Choice Review: A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

book cover of A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

Title: A Wounded Name
Author: Dot Hutchison
Release date: September 1, 2013
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher/Netgalley
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): Debut Author
Recommended by: Alyssa from The Eater of Books

There’s a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.

I’VE NEVER BEEN THAT GIRL.

Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the Headmaster’s sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster’s ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster’s grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.

YOU KNOW HOW THIS STORY ENDS.

Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make- and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison’s dark and sensuous debut novel, the name “Ophelia” is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as “Hamlet”.

Well I could not have picked a better book for my first readers’ choice review.  If my recommendations keep being this awesome, I may just have to read nothing but recommendations from you guys!
A Wounded Name is a retelling of Hamlet.  I’m a huge Shakespeare buff so maybe that’s why I loved this one so much but I know for a fact that that is only part of the reason.  The story was part of the draw for me but that’s not what really hooked me.  The writing and the characters are what really got to me with this one. To be completely honest, there wasn’t a single thing about A Wounded Name that I didn’t like.
First off, I have to mention the writing.  It’s absolutely gorgeous writing.  Some of the best I have ever read, for sure.  If nothing else about this book appeals to you, read it for the writing alone.  It’s worth it.  Dot Hutchison is one of those writers who could write a phone book and I would read it.  
The second best thing about A Wounded Name would have to be Ophelia and the rest of the characters.  A Wounded Name is told from Ophelia’s perspective and you really see the story in a whole different light.  Ophelia is a little bit crazy (literally) but I couldn’t help but love her.  She’s been through so much in life that I just wanted something good to happen to her.  She’s one of those characters who truly deserves a happy ending.  Same goes with Dane (Hamlet).  He’s a very messed up young man but you can tell that he really is a good person.  He does so much to hurt the people he loves but he doesn’t really mean any of it.  He’s lost and confused and mourning his dad.  I felt so bad for both him and Ophelia.  Really, the only character I didn’t feel bad for was Claudius.  Dot Hutchison made him into the perfect villain.  He wasn’t too evil but there wasn’t anything good about him, that’s for sure.  Also, I can’t not mention Horatio.  I loved him.  Ophelia hit the nail on the head when she said that he was the best of them all.  
The story is nothing new but like I said, you get to see a different side of it now. Like the synopsis says, you know how this story ends (if you’ve read Hamlet) but that does not take away from A Wounded Name at all.  I didn’t read this one because I expected mystery and suspense.  I read this because I expected a true to the original retelling and that’s exactly what I got.  
Overall, you must read A Wounded Name!  I can’t recommend it enough.  I can’t wait to see what Dot Hutchison does next!

What others are saying about A Wounded Name:

YA Fanatic’s reviewA Wounded Name is a book full of unfulfilled promises, revenge, death and madness with a beautiful, lyrical writing which will captivate everyone.”
Flying Kick-a-Pow Reviews’ review: Unfortunately, a lot of things about this book fell flat for me.” 
Sassy Reads’ review: you know how this story ends… except where the first focused on his (in)sanity, his grief, and the lot of them getting caught up in one plot then another, this focuses on her.” 
 
Monday, June 10, 2013

Siege And Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

book cover of Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
Reading level: YA
Challenge: Sophomore reading challenge

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha trilogy, will not disappoint fans of the first book at all.  In fact, readers just might be surprised to find that Siege and Storm takes things to the next level and is actually even a little better than Shadow and Bone.  I know, who would have thought that was possible?
Things pick up right after the end of Shadow and Bone and don’t take long to get back into, at all.  Mal and Alina are on the run from the Darkling, hiding out across the sea but it doesn’t take long for them to get pulled back into the madness.  Alina is growing even more powerful and she knows that she is the only person who will ever be able to stop the Darkling.  She just isn’t quite sure how yet.  And she’s also not sure where exactly Mal fits into it all.  
Alina is a character you can’t help but love but also just kind of want to slap at times.  She’s stubborn, smart, resourceful, and kind but she can’t always see what’s right in front of her face.  She and Mal need each other but with Alina’s power growing out of control, she’s not sure how she can be the Sun Summoner and be with Mal.  Mal takes a bit of a back seat in Siege and Storm which really disappointed me.  He’s changed a lot since the first book, having had to desert his post in the army to be with Alina.  He’s very lost and confused and I just wanted to hug him.  He’s still just as funny though and seeing a more vulnerable side to him made me love him even more.  As for the Darkling, just wow.  Leigh Bardugo is a master at crafting such a sinister villain but one that readers will still like, even if it is just a little bit.  I truly don’t know what to feel about him.  Oh and there’s a new guy introduced, making things even more interesting for Alina’s love life.  Seriously, this is no longer a love triangle, it’s a love square.  Sturmhond may be the frontrunner for me right now.  He’s devious and smart and brave and funny.  I dare you guys not to like him.
The story is super quick and while the book may be close to 500 pages, you won’t be able to put it down.  It’s not going to take readers long to get through this one.  There were so many times when I was on the edge of my seat, biting my nails to the cuticles, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  Leigh Bardugo is brutal.  I went through the whole spectrum of emotions with this book.  And let me tell you, the ending will leave you dying for the next book!  Things are tied up pretty well but you still won’t want to wait since it’s just such an addicting story.  
Overall, Siege and Storm is a must-read for everyone who read Shadow and Bone.  Ruin and Rising just shot to the top of my wishlist.  Get your hands on this one as soon as possible and join me in the wait for the final book!
What others have to say about Siege and Storm:
Read. Breathe. Relax.’s review: “This book is stunning.”

YA Book Queen’s review: Darker and more dangerous than ever, SIEGE AND STORM is a simply outstanding sequel.”

Forget Me Not’s review: The enchanting world Bardugo has created is further explored in the sequel and although I love Shadow and Bone slightly more than its sequel, fans of the first book will definitely love Siege and Storm!” 

Series:
Shadow and Bone (#1)
Siege and Storm (#2)
Ruin & Rising (#3) – 2014

Friday, April 26, 2013

Blog tour: House of Secrets (House of Secrets #1) by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini

book cover of House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

Title: House of Secrets (House of Secrets #1)
Author: Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini
Release date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 496
Source: ALA
Reading level: MG

The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.

Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.

I’m not sure how House of Secrets, Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini’s first collabaration, compares to Ned Vizzini’s young adult titles but I can assure you that after reading this one, I’ll be checking out the rest very soon.  House of Secrets is the whole package; mystery, adventure, action, and suspense.  
I always find it a little difficult to review collaborative works but that isn’t really going to be a problem with House of Secrets.  House of Secrets doesn’t read like a typical collaboration.  The flow of the book is almost seamless.  Readers will not be able to tell that more than one person is behind this work and that was a big plus for me.  Also, while the writing is definitely geared more towards younger readers, it doesn’t come across as immature or lacking in any way.  Older readers (such as myself) can definitely still enjoy the writing in this one!
The main characters are obviously the Walker children and I loved all three of them.  Twelve-year-old Brendan, fifteen-year-old Cordelia, and eight-year-old Eleanor were clearly family but they were all such individuals.  Brendan was the gamer, Cordelia was the reader, and Eleanor, well, let’s just say, Eleanor was a little bit of everything.  (Cordelia reminded me a lot of myself so I loved her!)  I found all the siblings to be so much fun to read about.  Brendan made me laugh, Cordelia was a piece of work sometimes but amazingly smart, and Eleanor was so cute.  There were times I felt so bad for her but she never let anything get her down.  Also, this being a middle grade story, there was more parental involvement than in YA and I loved Dr. and Mrs. Walker.  They were great parents and it was so obvious they loved their kids.  Otherwise they never would have put up with some of their stunts.
As for the story, how can you go wrong with dark magic, a witch, skeleton pirates (as if regular pirates aren’t cool enough?) and the amazing setting of a rather creepy old house full of secrets?  The adventure in House of Secrets really captured me and wouldn’t let me go.  Also, like I said earlier, it is geared toward younger readers so it does read a lot quicker than YA or adult. It’s almost 500 pages but I guarantee that once you start it, you’ll finish it very quickly! 
Overall, House of Secrets really embodies everything I adore about middle grade novels.  It’s a fast read full of action and crazy adventures and readers will adore it.  I can’t wait to continue this series!
What others have to say about House of Secrets:
There’s A Book’s review – “…The House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus sends readers on a thrill ride they’ll have a hard time letting go of.”

The Guardian’s review – “Marvelous stuff, with some real twists.”

Leisure Reads’ review – “Personally, I find the story a bit too savage and spiteful.”

Series:
House of Secrets (#1)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by R.L. LaFevers

book cover of Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Release date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 400
Source: ALA
Reading level: YA

Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy.

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

I honestly thought it would be impossible for Dark Triumph to live up to it’s predecessor.  Grave Mercy is one of the best historical fantasy novels that I’ve read and Dark Triumph definitely is too. Sybella’s story is just as fantastic as Ismae’s and readers will be rooting for her from the very first page.
Sybella is a little harder to like than Ismae but she quickly grows on readers.  She’s had a hard life, maybe even harder than Ismae, and things don’t come easy to her.  She’s rather standoffish and sometimes rude but those are her defense mechanisms.  She doesn’t know any other way to take care of herself.  She doesn’t trust easily but she does start to when Beast enters the picture.  Oh, Beast.  Do I even need to say anything about him?  He’s just as lovable as in Grave Mercy and just as funny. He brings much needed humor to the rather serious story.  And of course there are some wonderful scenes with Duval and Ismae.  Their appearance in the story made me very happy and I loved getting a glimpse of their relationship.
The story is a bit slow in the beginning.  This time around the story is very political and there isn’t always a ton of action.  It’s not a book that you can just plow through but it’s worth a slow read.  There is a lot going on and if you try to read the book too fast you just might miss something very important.  There is also quite a bit of foreshadowing as to what might be coming for the third book.  It will definitely leave readers eager to finish the trilogy.
Overall, Dark Triumph is a very strong followup to Grave Mercy.  Fans of the first book will not be disappointed.  Sybella is just as kick-ass as anyone could have hoped and I may actually love Beast more than Duval now.  You’ll see why as you read.  
Looking for more reviews of Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers?
Series:
Dark Triumph (#2)
Mortal Heart (#3) – 2014
Monday, August 20, 2012

Defiance (Defiance #1) by C.J. Redwine

book cover of Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Title: Defiance (Defiance #1)
Author: C.J. Redwine
Release date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

C.J. Redwine’s debut novel, Defiance, is one hell of a book.  Full of action, suspense, romance, and an amazing world, it will have readers up late into the night devouring it.

Rachel has always been strong and brave.  She was raised that way by her father.  It’s being scared and insecure that don’t come naturally to her but those are the states she’s in for a good portion of the book.  Her life has been turned upside down and she is doing all she can to survive.  Life will never be the same for her and she is forced to accept that.  She must face the new life she is given and learn how to have hope for the future.  She’s definitely a kick-ass heroine that readers will fall in love with from the start.

Logan is your second narrator.  He is a bundle of contradictions that readers will love trying to figure out.  He is a very emotional guy but he doesn’t know how to handle or show those emotions.  He’s smart, handsome, brave, strong, and above all, kind.  He’s so much more than your typical love interest.  He’s wonderfully fleshed out but there are some hints of some secrets even Logan may not know about himself.  Readers will be kept guessing with this guy.

The secondary characters were a pretty good mix although some could use some development.  Oliver is a doting grandfather type to both Rachel and Logan.  Parts of his story are told yet some are left unexplained.  Sylph is a loyal friend to Rachel but she is kept in the dark regarding most things.  The Commander was the best secondary character (though I hated him.)  C.J. Redwine has crafted one perfect villain with almost no humanity left.  The Commander is one guy that readers will love to hate.

The plot doesn’t pick up immediately but the world-building does.  This is one fantasy world that takes very little to get sucked into.  The backstory is completely interesting and even without a ton of action in the beginning I had no problem getting hooked.  And when the plot does pick up, it does not disappoint.  So much happens in Defiance it’s hard to believe it all fit in a 416 page book.  I could have definitely read a lot more.

As for the writing, C.J. Redwine has got herself a lifelong fan.  Anything she writes in the future, I will read.  The writing is so beautiful I found myself stopping and going back, just having to reread things.  I tried to pick some good quotes but honestly I would be quoting the whole book.  Just know that it’s fabulous.

Overall, Defiance is a favorite of 2012.  Fantasy readers will adore it and if you’re not a fantasy fan, this book will convert you.

Looking for more reviews of Defiance?
Once Upon A Prologue’s review
Two Chicks On Books’ review

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Dark Light by Sara Walsh

book cover of The Dark Light by Sara Walsh

Title: The Dark Light
Author: Sara Walsh
Release date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 496
Source: Publisher

Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town.

That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.

Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.

The cover for The Dark Light is very misleading. While it fits the book perfectly, it makes readers think the book is a paranormal romance. I went into the book thinking that is what I was going to get. Wrong! The Dark Light is fantasy and not only that; it’s awesome fantasy!
The Dark Light is thoroughly captivating from the very start. It starts off very mysteriously and I was hooked. Crazy things were happening in the town of Crownsville and no one there could explain them. There were these insane lights, missing kids, and somehow they were connected. I had no guesses as to what was going on and let me tell you, I was curious. For the first 100 pages or so I could not put the book down. The beginning really does a great job of capturing the reader’s attention, as does the end, but I have to say that the middle of the book was a little lacking. The book is almost 500 pages and there is a lot of information contained in the pages and most of it is included in the middle of the book. It dragged a bit but it really is all necessary information. It was definitely interesting I just would have preferred a bit more action to keep the pace going. The action does pick up again though and it’s worth the wait!
The Dark Light almost has two sets of characters; the people from Crownsville and the people/creatures from the other world, Brakaland. The Crownsville characters are very easy to connect with. Mia is your typical teenage girl, worrying about work, her crush, and her little brother. Her best friend, Willie, is a truly good friend and she’s hilarious. Pete is a bit confusing in the beginning but he’s easier to understand by the end. Jay is a cute kid who is a little too serious for his age. The second set of characters is a little harder to connect with. They are part of this other world and their world is very different. Everyone is raised differently and they are much more serious. Sol, Delane, Rip, and the others are good characters just in different ways from the others. They’re all brave, smart, kind, and Delane is pretty funny. Once their history is explained they are much easier to understand and like. I really enjoyed the contrasts of the two worlds.
I have to say that Brakaland is probably what made the book so awesome. At first I was a little confused about what exactly was going on and where exactly everything was going on but it didn’t take long for everything to come together and make sense. Brakaland is a unique fantasy land unlike any other. It’s full of demons, kings, mythological creatures, and so much more. The history of Brakaland is fascinating and while much of it was explained in The Dark Light I have high hopes for a second book so I can find out even more!
Overall, The Dark Light was nothing at all like what I expected and I think that’s what I loved the most about it. Sara Walsh is another author I will be on the lookout for. Can’t wait to see what she does next!
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shadowcry (Wintercraft #1) by Jenna Burtenshaw

book cover of Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

Title: Shadowcry (Wintercraft #1)
Author: Jenna Burtenshaw
Release date: June 21, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.

Albion is at war . . . and losing.

The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.

And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.

As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate’s discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she’ll make a pact with a murderer to do it.

Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

I went into Shadowcry with no expectations whatsoever. Sure I’d seen a handful of reviews but I still didn’t really know what to expect from the author, the characters, or the setting. I was pleasantly surprised by Shadowcry and while I didn’t end up loving it, I will definitely be checking out the sequels.
The setting is what really made Shadowcry so awesome and gripping. The cities of Morvane and Fume (especially the underground city in Fume) are unlike any I have read about. They are not fantastical places full of castles and wonders but they are memorable places. Morvane is a small city with some awesome creepy underground tunnels. A lot of time isn’t spent in Morvane so a lot of details aren’t given but it’s any place to imagine. Fume is the real wonder. The magic of Fume starts with the Night Train and it doesn’t end there. The Night Train is one dark and scary train with a pretty awesome history. It’s where things in the story start to get really interesting and things only get more fascinating as the Night Train delivers it’s prisoners to Fume. Fume is a city built on thousands of graves but that’s not all it’s built upon. Underneath the towers of Fume is a whole other city. Instead of tearing down the city that was originally there, the council decided to build upon it, not thinking that anyone would continue to live underneath. Every part of the setting was wonderful and the writing was so descriptive that I was easily able to picture every last scene in my head.
Jenna Burtenshaw’s writing also makes the book so fun to read. Her writing is lush and descriptive and it was definitely one of the things that hooked me. Also, while it is descriptive, it is never weighty and there is never too much description. Even the bleakest of places were made beautiful by Jenna Burtenshaw’s writing.
The characters are where I found the book to be a bit lacking. Kate Winters is the heroine of this story. She seemed like the might be a strong character in the beginning but as the book went on I found her to be a bit whiny. She was definitely thrust into a crazy situation but I felt that she could have handled it a lot better. She was just a bit too immature for my tastes. As for the other characters, Silas, Edgar, and Da’ru were once again found to be a little lacking. Silas was supposed to be this villain but I felt sorry for him more than anything. Edgar is a good friend to Kate (maybe hoping for more?) but he was kind of a doof. He always managed to get both of them into tons of trouble and he was not good at getting them out of that trouble. Da’ru was the real villain in the story and I just wasn’t scared of her. I don’t think there was enough background on her to really make her the villain that I would have liked. I’m hoping for some development of all the characters in the next book.
As for the plot, it was a little weak but definitely gripping. I think the worst part about it was that Kate and Edgar kept getting into the same situations over and over again. One of them would be captured, the other would run away, the one not locked up would return to save the other, and they would then be captured while the other one got away. It was so freaking repetitive. I mean, really, how many times can you get captured without wising up? However the magic of Wintercraft and the search for the book as well as Kate’s burgeoning powers managed to keep things interesting enough for me to finish the book in a day. It’s definitely a fast read.
Overall, Shadowcry could have been a lot better, that’s for sure, but I still greatly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it for a rainy day. The sequels are both high on my to-read list!
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Series:
Shadowcry (Wintercraft #1)
Blackwatch (Wintercraft #2)
Legacy (Wintercraft #3) – 2013