Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Series: Vampire Academy, book # 2

Published: April 10th 2008

Publisher: Razorbill

Details: Paperback, 327 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Sequel in the Vampire Academy series. Several strigoi attacks upset the Moroi community. Rose has guy issues and we learn more about Lissa’s ability. I was not addicted by book one, but have to say it is getting better the more I read. Looking forward to read third book in the series, Shadow Kiss.

A few chapters in:

I’ve been wanting to read this sequel for a while, more out of curiosity than anything else. You see, this series seems to have taken the whole blogging community by storm – and I feel weirdly left out. I read the first book (Vampire Academy) expecting to feel the same excitement, yet just felt like it was.. okay. Definitely an entertaining read – fun, fast paced and all, but not something to get superexcited about. And nowhere near comparable to Twilight.

So what had I missed?

The only conclusion I could come up with was that I simply hadn’t read enough to get myself addicted. Hence, here I am with the sequel, which I hope will make me jump the fence and join the many Vampire Academy fans out there.

Ok, so I’m now a few chapters in. It starts only a couple of weeks after book one ended. Rose is trying to get over her romantic feelings for Dimitri, her older Russian trainer and Lissa has hooked up with Christian. Not many pages in, on her way to a guardian test, Rose and Dimitri stumble upon a massacre. An entire royal Moroi family have been slaughtered by Strigoi vampires.

Following this terrible event, it’s decided that the safest option for all Moroi (and Damphir’s) at the Vampire Academy is to accomodate them at a royal luxuary ski resort during the upcoming christmas holidays. Something which many students welcome as a pleasant surprise.

Another surprise, is the sudden appearance of Rose’s mother. As a well-known and respected damphir guardian, she has arrived to the academy in order to protect Moroi royal family. Rose’s relationship with her mother can be descibed as frosty (at its best), and sparks literally fly during each one of their encounters.

We are also introduced to a new character, Christian’s charming aunt, who seems very (and perhaps too?) close to Dimitri.

In short, there are lots of little threads that have sparked my curiosity. Moreover, Rose seems more likable in this book, less flirtatious and arrogant. So, it’s looking good.

After finishing the book:

Well I finished this book fast – in under two days.

Does that mean I’m now officially addicted to the Vampire Academy series?

Well, it’s getting there, I think. It’s not anywhere near the addiction I felt for Twilight. But I did get a bit teary-eyed at the end, and my hands are itching to get the next book Shadow Kiss. So maybe, just maybe the VA addiction will reach Twilight levels at some point. All I can say now is that the series is growing on me.

And here’s why:

If you read my review of the Vampire Academy, you know that I complained about it including too much high school drama, as in too much gossiping and bitching around. Well, I was glad to find out that there is much less of that in Frostbite.

Instead we learn more about the outer workings of the vampire world that Mead has created. The evil Strigoi are a more prominent threat here, and the Moroi’s and Damphir’s are being forced to reevaluate their structures and traditions in order to face that threat. All this I found really intriguing.

As you know, I also complained about Rose’s arrogant and flirtatious nature in Vampire Academy, which was hard to relate to. In Frostbite however, she started to grow on me. She’s still Rose, kick-ass and flirtatious, making the occasional impulsive and stupid mistake, but the big difference is that I’ve started to understand and empathize with her.

The appearance of her mother probably helped. Seeing Rose with her mom, it made it easier to see through Rose’s tough shell, and discover the sometimes small and vulnerable girl hiding beneath. I also liked the fact that Rose started to make a conscious effort to work on her less attractive traits. In short, she is maturing fast, and I like watching the process!

Not only Rose is growing on me, the other characters are as well. In Frostbite, new characters are introduced (Christian’s aunt, Rose’s mom and in particular Adrian!), and old favorites such as Mia, Dimitri and Christian remain. I can’t wait to see where the story will take them.

Lastly, in my review of the Vampire Academy, I called for more background info on Dimitri (Rose’s Russian trainer). While I can’t say I learnt anything new about him, he continues to intrigue me. The bond and chemistry that he and Rose share feels real, which is very good. I’m so voting on these two to get together.

That said, I haven’t fully comprehended why them being together is such a huge issue. I don’t think the age difference is that great. I mean, had he been 34 years old, then yeah we’re talking a major age gap, but 24? No big deal!

And while I understand their reasoning around love getting in the way of protecting Lissa, I’m thinking there has to be a way around that. For instance, would it not help having Dimitri reassigned to a different Moroi? Or would that implicate them never seeing each other?

As you can see, I haven’t fully grasped the impossibility of their relationship. Yet, I enjoyed reading about these two, so in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter. Because, to cut it short, this was a great read!

If the rumours are true (and I believe they are), the third book Shadow Kiss is even better. Hence, I know that I am sure to continue my VA journey in a very near future. I’m certainly feeling the pull..


Review: Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Series: Wings, book #2

Published: May 4th 2010

Publisher: Harper Teen

Details: Hardcover, 359 pages

My rating: 3/5

My Summary:

Sequel to Wings. Laurel is summoned to study at the fairy academy, thus we learn more about the world of the fairies which I enjoyed. But other than that, it was more of a filler than an actual stand-alone plot. Not much happens, except for Laurels emotional struggles regarding Tamani & David. Enjoyable but not great. Next book is called Illusions.

A few chapters in:

Wings was a fairy tale story about the seemingly ordinary girl Laurel who discovered she was a fairy. It was not amazing by any means but it was cute. Actually, that’s the word right there: Cute.

Cute enough for me to want to pick up the sequel. Too much cuteness for me to want to pick it up right away.

Hence, here we are, roughly eight months later (including two months in the TBR-pile).

I’m now a few chapters in. Laurel has been summoned to attend the Academy of Avalon over the summer in order to catch up on her fairy studies. In Wings we learned that as a fairy child, Laurel was handed over to adoptive human parents in order to be raised by them, since the land where they lived was important fairy land that needed protection from the trolls. How Laurel helped protecting that land as a fairy toddler I have no idea, but I’m sure there was a reason.

The point is, after having lived solely a human life for the last 13 years, Laurel is now in urgent need of a fairy education.

Hence, from chapter one, we follow Laurel as she steps through the magical gate to the fairy land of Avalon discovering a whole new world she didn’t know existed, full of beauty and magic, but also strict social structures and rules. Laurel is a Fall Fairy, which turns out to be a rare species, and very highly appreciated. In fact, Fall Fairies rank second highest after the Winter Fairies, who are the rarest of them all.

Tamani on the other hand (Laurel’s fairy friend) is just a Spring Fairy, which in Avalon means he is common, ordinary and.. as funny as this sounds – a true working class fairy. I’ve just now got to the point where Tamani is showing Laurel around, including a visit to his mother.

And I have to say that so far I’m liking it! The world building of the fairies is intriguing, so much that right now I feel I could stay in Avalon forever! Or at least for 359 pages..

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book, and it was…cute. I seem to be stuck on that word when it comes to this series.

As you can see from my first impression above, I loved the first part of the book. The fairy world-building that Pike has created is fascinating and I loved every minute that Laurel spent in Avalon.

Unfortunately, a couple of chapters later, Laurel had to return to the human world, and as she did my interest started to fade. Not necessarily because I found the human world boring, but more because in the absence of an intriguing world-building I started to notice the non-existent plot. You see, not much happened in this book. Or rather, a few things happened but not enough to justify a book of almost 400 pages.

If I were to sum it up, this was essentially about Laurel and her issues with being a fairy brought up in the human world. She tries to live in both worlds, including stringing along both her boys David and Tamani, but fails miserably on all accounts. The troll threat is lingering in the air throughout the whole book, but not much actually happens until the final pages.

In the end, not much is solved. Laurel does finally make a decision, but I’m not convinced that this is her final one, so expect her indecisiveness to continue in book three.

As a fan of Tamani I was especially irritated at Laurel’s behaviour towards him – I mean talk about giving out mixed signals! Shar (Tamani’s sentry colleague) tells Laurel a few wise words at the end of the book, and I pretty much wanted to hug him after that, because he nailed my view of Laurel’s actions right there.

The Bottom Line:

Finally, I know it sounds like I’m bashing the book now. Truth is, it was still enjoyable and easy to read, probably because of the fairy world and the fact that it is well written. I will continue the series, in the hopes that the next installment Illusions will prove to be more than just another filler.


Review: Entice by Carrie Jones

Series: Need, book #3

Published: December 7th 2010

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Details: Paperback, 264 pages

My rating: 1/5

My Summary:

Third installment of Need series. Zara is now a pixie queen. Astley is her king, and she is on a mission: bring Nick back from Valhalla. I loved Need, but nothing could hold my attention here. This book was a mess. Juvenile, flat characters and a straggling plot. Won’t continue the series.

A few chapters in:

As you may know if you read my review of Need, I absolutely loved that book. Zara’s grief and fears rang true to me, the novelty of the pixies was exciting and of course there was the steamy romance between Nick and Zara. Impossible not to get addicted!

Unfortunately the sequel Captivate did not reach the same amazing levels as Need. Why? Well, I was craving growth and resolution in Captivate, and it failed to deliver on those two points. Characters stayed the same (or even went more immature) and most of my questions were left unanswered. I still enjoyed reading it, and so I always knew that I was going to read Entice, in the hopes that this third installment would restore my faith in this series. Time to find out if it will.

I’ve now read a few chapters and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any magic a la Need just yet. On the contrary actually. But it may be too early to tell. Let’s hope so.

Entice starts just where Captivate left off with Zara and her friends heading off to the school dance. As you know if you’ve read the previous books, Nick is dead, or rather he was taken to a resting place for dying warriors, meaning he may in fact still be alive. Zara has gotten herself transformed into a pixie, in order to bring Nick back. Apparently humans are not allowed to that resting place, and so she had to change. Moreover, she is now a pixie queen seeing as Astley – the pixie king who appeared in Captivate – changed her.

Zara however does not care about being a pixie queen. Her only goal is getting Nick back. Yet she fears that Nick will no longer love her when he finds out about her change. Nick hates pixies.

As in the previous books, the pixies are now roaming the woods looking for boys to torture to satisfy their needs. Being a pixie herself, Zara can now finally help with protecting humans from these pixies, and at the dance she does just that, stopping a couple of pixies from kidnapping teens.

Astley keeps reappearing here and there, and he remains kind and patient. Yet he is not the most talkative guy out there. I would like him to let Zara in on one or two things on the pixie stuff, because seriously, it’s starting to get very vague here, and I need some answers! For one, why is there going to be a war? Where do all these pixie kings come from? Why do some of these pixies (the evil ones) feel the need to torture boys? Is that something they need in order to survive? Why boys in particular? And why do the good pixies not feel the need to do that? Oh, well there’s more, but you get my drift. Answers please!

Moreover, I keep feeling that Zara has gone slightly too immature for my liking. For instance, in the middle of a deep conversation with Devyn, she decides to squeal, jump up and roll around in the snow. Say what??? And that’s just one example. Let’s just say, I’ve been scratching my head quite frequently over the course of these first chapters.

In short, let’s hope for some character growth here. And answers..I need answers..

After finishing the book:

Well, I finished the book last night. And did I get my most needed answers?

No, I didn’t. Worse still, I’m no longer interested in hearing them. I’m sorry all you fans of the Need series (myself included) but this book was a mess.

I think the main problem was the plot which was so haphazard that it felt as if the author was making it up as she went. The whole book was about rescuing Nick from Valhalla. Problem was, no one knew how to actually get to Valhalla. So chapter after chapter was essentially devoted to Zara and Astley trying to find ways to get there. And failing, over and over again. When action was needed, Zara or someone else got hurt. Or we got to know a bit more about Astley. But other than that, not much of a plot.

Sometimes the conclusion outweighs a non-existent plot (see Linger), but that did not materialize either. In fact, the conclusion just provided me with even more questions (to store with my other trillions of questions from the previous installments, thank you very much).

I had a problem with the characters as well. Zara seemed downright immature, and more often than not I struggled to follow her train of thought because it wasn’t coherent. It was grave one second, then squealing of happiness the next. Astley was probably the character I felt the most for, all though that’s not saying much. I did however wonder why he was so bent on Zara getting back her wolf. It felt as if he neglected everything else (an eminent war, leading and taking care of his pixies etc) just for the sake of helping Zara. I failed to see how that made a responsible king, which is supposedly what Astley was.

Unless he had other motivations for helping Zara, apart from his goal of Zara finally having Nick back so that she could stop missing Nick and start loving Astley instead. Yes folks, this was apparently Astley’s main motivation for helping Zara, believe it or not. A bit too goodie-goodie don’t you think?

So, back to the other characters, Issie, Devyn, Betty etc. They were all brilliantly drawn in Need, and to some extent in Captivate as well. In this installment however they were reduced to flat cut-out cardboard characters, only existing in the plot to worry and help Zara on her mission to Valhalla.

It would have been interesting if at least one of these characters had provided some resistance to the Valhalla mission, or at least doubts, because there were reasons to doubt. They had no idea what they were doing – if Nick was even alive, and all the while people were dying in Maine. But the whole group just kept cheering on Zara and encouraged her to move on. Boring!

Lastly, I was getting seriously irritated at all the questions not being answered, which made me wonder if even the author knew the answers to them. As you know if you’ve read any supernatural fiction, it’s the how’s and why’s that make a great world-building great. Small details are weaved together into a logical pattern and suddenly you are presented with a world-building which feels intricate and most importantly: believable.

In Entice, the world building of the pixies is as haphazard as the plot, with plenty of details, but all lacking explanations, and never weaved into a whole picture. Consequently, I had a hard time believeing in the world that Jones had created. Never a good sign.

In the end, I just gave up. I did get to the last page, but not without effort. And unless the next installment receives skyrocket high reviews, this is the end of the pixie road for me. No more squeeing Zara White for me, I’m done!


Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Infernal Devices, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 479 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

Prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series which I LOVED. Set in Victorian London, shape-shifter Tessa is captured by evil warlocks and saved by a group of shadowhunters, among them handsome and arrogant Will. While I loved revisiting this world, the relationship between the two main characters in this book bothered me a little, as did some of the repetitive factors. All in all, a great fast-paced read and a good start to a series, but not as amazing as The Mortal Instruments Series.

A few chapters in:

As a fan of Cassandra Clare, I was superexcited when I heard that she had written a spin-off series, set in the very same shadowhunter world that I’ve come to love after reading her Mortal Instruments Series. The question was only: was she going to be able to replicate the success that was The Mortal Instruments series? Well, judging by the many rave reviews it appears as if yes, she has succeeded. And so, I am really excited to finally delve into that world again!

I’m now a few chapters in. Set in the Victorian England, this is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series. Many of the characters are therefore ancestors to Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Co.

The main character however is of unknown family. Her name is Tessa – an american orphan girl – who upon following her brother to London, is captured on arrival and held captive by two weird-looking sisters named The Dark Sisters. It turns out Tessa has a rather unusual talent which the evil sisters intend to use: Tessa can shape-shift into any human form. After weeks in prison, she is saved by the gorgeous and arrogant shadowhunter Will, and taken to the shadowhunter institute in London, where she meets the rest of the members of the shadowhunter family.

And this is where I couldn’t help but start noticing the similarities with the City of Bones. Tessa, like Clary, doesn’t belong in the shadowhunter world, yet is saved and accommodated at the shadowhunter institute seeing as her remaining family (Tessa’s brother as well as Clary’s mother) has disappeared. At the institute Tessa is introduced to the members of the shadowhunter clan, where Will seems like a Jace with brown hair, Jem is the equivalent of Alec (all though straight), and Jassamine is a slightly more bitchy Isabelle.

And this is as far as I’ve got. While I do love diving into this world again, I hope these new characters will differentiate themselves from the ones that I know in The Mortal Instruments. I hate to be comparing them like this, but I just can’t help it! Hopefully, the more I get to know about them, the less comparable to Jace and Co. they’ll seem.

After finishing the book:

As you know, after reading a few chapters, the similarity to The City of Bones bugged me. However, as I read more, the characters started taking on a life of their own, which meant I could enjoy it for what it was – another entertaining trip into the shadowhunter world of Cassandra Clare.

After finishing it however, I have to admit it lacked that special something that made the Mortal Instruments amazing. What special something? Well, it lacked a romantic lead as appealing as Jace. And there were some repetitive factors. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let me tell you what I loved. As always with Cassandra Clare, she provides a detailed and intricate world-building that makes you feel as if you literally live and breathe within that world yourself, in the midst of all types of supernatural creatures in a London set in the Victorian era. Not an easy feat, but Clare sure pulls this off beautifully. I also love the sharp, interesting and quirky dialogues. But most of all, I think it’s her wonderfully fleshed out characters that stand out for me. After all, she was the author who created my one fictional crush last year – Jace.

In this book the characters are once again wonderfully drawn. There is Tessa with her identity issues, Sophie – the reasonable maid, Jessamine who struggles against her shadowhunter heritage, the kind and fierce Charlotte and so on. Even if not that much is revealed about them in this first installment, you get a feeling that things are in store for all these characters, and that they will all play a role eventually. And that’s precisely what I like about Clare’s writing.

Yet, there was one character I had an issue with in this book, and that is Will, the potential love interest of Tessa. I first had an issue with him because he is just too similar to Jace in how he keeps the rest of the world at an arm’s length with sarcasm. As you can imagine, anyone too similar to Jace pales in comparison.

Then, as I read on, Will started taking on a slightly different personality than Jace. Which, in a way was good (because I’d hate to be comparing him to Jace), but was also bad, because what was revealed of his personality was not very appealing at all.

Will is like a darker version of Jace, who seems to use sarcasm in order to hide his ugly true self. While Jace (despite his sarcasms), was unable to lie, Will seems unable to tell the truth. All he seems to do is lie and being mean and rude, just for the sake of hurting others.

I don’t care whatever reasons may lie behind his behaviour, or that he occasionally seems to care for Jem. I still don’t think there is an excuse for acting the way he does. Most importantly, he treats Tessa horribly, and I’m actually bound to agree with the maid Sophie when she advised Tessa not go get involved with him.

Jem on the other hand grew on me. There is some actual bonding going on between him and Tessa, which seemed more grounded and real, as Jem (as opposed to Will) is someone you can actually talk to. He seems mature beyond his years, and despite his tragic circumstances he’s above self-pitying which is what seems to be consuming Will. Yet, Will is sure to be the romantic lead, or so I think. The next installment will most likely “explain” his earlier behaviour. The problem is, I’m not sure I’ll buy that explanation.

Lastly, the repetitive factors, some of which I mentioned earlier made for a slightly lower grade. All though the characters eventually took on lives of their own, it still could not take away the fact that some parts of the plot were quite similar to The Mortal Instruments. For instance, there is a questionable parentage of the main heroine, a villain who is raising an army to take down the shadowhunters, a main character discovering she has a powerful talent, a love triangle featuring two guys where one is kind and the other arrogant and so on.

The Bottom Line:

That said, I enjoyed reading it and I definitely plan to read the next installment, Clockwork Prince. It just couldn’t quite compare to The Mortal Instruments, that’s all.

Oh, and on a sidenote, what is it about Magnus Bane that makes him so appealing? I literally squealed when he made an appearance again. One of my favorite characters in this series, that’s for sure!


Review: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Series: No, stand-alone

Published: 2004

Publisher: Scribe

Details: Paperback, 944 pages

My Rating: 5/5


In the early 80´s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from Australian prison onto India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail.

Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan…Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It´s a profound tribute to his willpower…At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet lyrical fugitive vision.

My thoughts:

This book is rapidly becoming a modern classic, and has been praised all over the world. I first heard about it in Australia a few years ago, and when even my best friend who at the most reads one book a year got through the 900+ pages in record time, I knew it was something else.

And now after reading it, I can confirm that it is.. wow, what a story, that’s all I can say. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have experienced these events, lived to tell it and even more so, relate the story in such a richly descriptive and lyrical writing. I’m genuinely impressed. Now, I’m not entirely convinced that the story is completely self-biographical, it’s just too hard to believe! But then, does it really matter? It is still a fascinating read.

So, as for the review, there is so much that I loved about this book that I don’t know where to start. First of all, I loved the language, a combination of powerful, poetic and witty. It was a pure joy to read some of the sentences, not just because of the content but because of how they were put together. It’s true that Roberts tend to use a language a bit too flowery sometimes (“When our lips parted, stars rushed through that kiss into her sea-green eyes..”), resembling something out of a Harlequin novel, but it didn’t really bother me. I think that is because the whole book perspires such pure joy for writing, that I found it impossible not to be swept away as a reader, give or take a few Harlequin look-alike sentences here and there.

The story itself was so intense, and described so vividly that during one of the sections in the middle of the book – the Indian prison episode – I almost stopped reading. Not because of lack of interest, but because the descriptions of the brutality Roberts suffered in that prison were so fierce that it felt as if I were enduring the pain myself. I also specifically remember reading a passage where Roberts describes his prison break in Australia. The section was described so vividly, that even though I knew he obviously succeeded the escape attempt (or else he would not have found himself in Bombay) I was literally sweating with nervousness for him to make it outside the prison walls. That’s how good his storytelling is.

It was an interesting read too and as a reader, you get an insight into so many areas you previously had no idea about, or at least I know I didn’t! Roberts expertly guides you into the slums, the secrets and hearts of the Indian people, the underlying mechanisms of organised crime, the forces behind the war of Afghanistan during the eighties just to mention a few.

What I enjoyed the most though were the interactions between Roberts and one of his best friends, the Indian tour-guide Prabaker who he meets early on in the book. Prabaker was by far the most likeable character in the book and it was usually wherever he was involved that I had my most laugh-out loud moments. The witty descriptions of their (indian-western european) cultural clashes were so spot-on and hilarious!

Finally, this is a story that is like nothing else you have ever read, thoroughly enjoyable on so many levels that I could talk about it forever. But simply put, it is a must-read!!!


Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #2

Published: July 13th 2010

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 362 pages

My rating: 2/5

My summary:

A continuation of Sam and Grace from Shiver. Sam is now cured, but as spring approaches Grace starts feeling unwell. While beautifully written, the pacing in this book is off and I’m still not connecting with Sam and Grace. I did however like the new addition Cole. Overall, okay read.

A few chapters in:

If you’ve read my review of the first installment Shiver you might know that I didn’t outright love that book. I thought I was going to devour it, as the story seemed to be right up my alley with an Edward-Bella type of a romantic couple set in a paranormal environment (with werewolves instead of vampires). Problem was, Sam and Grace did not resonate with me in the same way that Edward and Bella did. Why? I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t care for them as much as I should have.

That said, it was beautifully written, with an intriguing and original plot that included well-rounded secondary characters (Isabel especially), and so I always knew I wanted to return to the wolves of Mercy Falls. The question was only when.

Well, the time has now come to delve into the sequel, and I’m already a few chapters in. Some time has passed since we left them in Shiver. It’s still winter but there are early signs of spring. Like in Shiver, there are alternating POV’s. This time however, two more POV’s have been added apart from Sam and Grace, namely Isabel and a new character Cole. Cole is one of the new werewolves that Beck recruited just before changing to a werewolf himself, presumably for the last time. Consequently, we don’t know much about Cole, except for the fact that for some reason he must have willingly agreed to become a werewolf, or else Beck wouldn’t have recruited him.

As the spring approaches, so does the time when Cole and the other new werewolves will shift back to their human forms. Sam, who is now amazingly cured, is waiting for them, hoping that their transition will go well. Meanwhile, Grace is struggling with headaches and a hot temperature. Something is not quite right, which is most likely stemming from when she was bitten all those years ago. Why that should surface now, I don’t know, but I’m sure there is an explanation.

I’ve just got to the point now where Isabel and Cole meet. And let me just say, that this is starting to get really interesting. If their first meeting (where sparks literally fly) is any indication of the rest of the book, I’m guessing I might just devour this sequel, the way I never did with Shiver. Let’s hope so!

After finishing the book:

Well, I’ve finished it. And I’m sorry to say, just like with Shiver I felt it was lacking. I was momentarily gripped when Isabelle and Cole met, but as that relationship sort of fizzled out, my interest in the book did too.

Mostly my problem with Linger (as well as Shiver) is my inability to connect with the lead romantic couple Sam and Grace. This is a very subjective thing I know. But given the fact that it doesn’t take much for me to swoon over romantic couples (Bella & Edward, Cabel & Janie, Jace & Clary, Valek & Yelena) to name a few, it is quite strange how when I read about Sam tossing and turning in bed because he misses Grace so much, my reaction is: yawn. Why is that?

It may be because I’m missing sparks and passion. I don’t for a minute doubt that they love each other very much, but it’s all so careful, quiet and lovey-dovey. Which, once again, some might like to read about, but I need something with a little more life in it. That’s why I loved the new addition of Cole, because he brought some life and sparks to the story, that previously only Isabelle had provided.

My other main reason for yawning my way through this book was the non-existent plot. Already in the first couple of pages, we get a hint of what is to happen to Grace. Yet it takes all of the 400 pages to get there. And in between? Not so much, really. Cole’s background story is told, and there is the friction between Grace’s parents and Sam. But other than that, it felt like I read about all the four of them basically going on about their life, doing mundane things like calling each other, turning a pillow in a bed, driving their car, looking at the wolves, pondering and questioning and worrying.

It helps of course that these mundane events are told in the words of Maggie Stiefvater, who can make a trip to the bathroom sound like poetry. She is extremely good with words, there is no denying that. Unfortunately though, no amount of beautifully phrased prose can save a non-existent plot (in my view).

I have to say though that the ending was quite spectacular. I loved how Cole stepped up to the plate when it really mattered (Cole’s my man!), and the whole explanation behind the werewolf curse was interesting as well.

Did those last 10 pages make up for the rest? Not really. But a good ending always leaves you intrigued, and so I may actually pick up the third installment Forever.


Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Series: Morganville Vampires, book #1

Published October 3rd 2006

Publisher: NAL Jam

Details: Paperback, 248 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

First book in a series of 12. About Claire who moves to Morganville, Texas as a freshman in college and befriends the older teens Shane, Eve and Michael. Soon the sinister secret of Morganville is revealed - the town is ruled by vampires. And Claire and her friends find themselves in the midst of it all. This is a fun page-turner, with non-stop action, and a little bit of romance. Not enough character depth and a cliff-hanger-ending drags grade down.

A few chapters in:

After reading Twilight, I did what many others did. I went on the hunt for other similar vampire series. Numerous Twilight-reading-lists and recommendations later, I had gathered the following information:

There are two young adult vampire series out there worth getting into (for a 30-year-old), both having earned a huge fan-base and great reviews: The Vampire Academy and The Morganville Vampires. Problem with the latter was that at the time I was craving a vampire story a la Cullens i.e. nice vampires who refrained from killing humans. Not the case with the Morganville Vampires whose vampires are..well not exactly the good guys. Hence, the book ended up on my TBR pile and there it was, forgotten, while I plowed through one young adult series after another reading about pretty much every mythical creature out there except vampires (sirens, shapeshifters, werewolves, fallen angels, fairies, demons, ghosts and the list goes on..).

Now, almost a year later, I feel I’m ready to delve into another vampire series where (gasp!) they are actually the evil guys. Not only ready, I’m looking forward to it! Time has come for the Morganville Vampires.

I’m now a few chapters in. Brainy and studious Claire is just starting classes at the Texas Prairie University in Morganville, Texas as a freshman, at only 16 years of age. Problem is, this doesn’t sit well with other students, in particular a certain Monica, leader of a terrifying girl gang.

During a scary encounter in the dorm with them, Claire is pushed down a flight of stairs. Feeling lonely and badly bruised she decides to try to find somewhere else to stay, seeing as her dorm no longer seems like a safe alternative.

Following an add in the paper, she finds a room in a house in downtown Morganville, to share with the group of older teens Eve, Shane and Michael. Through them she soon learns that there are things out there far more scarier than Monica and her gang of girls.

It turns out Morganville carries a rather sinister secret. The town is run by vampires, who operate like a type of mafia. You’re either with them and get protection or you’re not, meaning there is a high possibility you’ll end up as one of many strange disappearances. Claire is having a hard time at first believing in the existence of vamps (who wouldn’t) but as the days go by, she reluctantly grows to accept it as the only plausible explanation to all the strange happenings around there .

And this is as far as I’ve got, but I’m already feeling the pull. I’ve got the same excited feeling as when I started reading the Mortal Instruments series. Claire (as well as Clary) is an ordinary girl who teams up with a cool group of older teens and friends, to explore a supernatural world she had no idea existed. As in the City of Bones I’m immediately warming to the characters, in this case Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael, and I’m feeling really curious to see what will happen next. In short, I’ve got a good feeling about this series.

After finishing the book:

I’ve just finished the book and I liked it. It’s a great fun page-turner and a good start to a series.

It had everything you’d want in a paranormal fiction series. Intriguing world-building, friendship, romance and of course lots and lots of action. I loved the latter of course seeing as that was one of the reasons why I kept turning pages. Yet, the non-stop action overshadowed character development, which is why this story never reached amazing grading levels for me. (As you know, the characters are the number one priority for me in a book.)

However, the characters are all likable, and they have distinct characteristics, so that’s all good. I just needed a bit more depth to really start caring for them. Though I assume more depth will be provided in the following books.

There is romance as well, and it develops quite slowly, which I liked. First they hang out, become friends and only then, after some time does it become more. I wasn’t even sure until about half way through the book which one of the two boys would take on the romantic lead (surprising seeing as my romantic antenna is usually pretty alert and spot-on). Either way, it doesn’t blossom into anything more than those first tentative steps. Too much fast-paced action going on in the background for that. But I look forward to see how it develops.

Lastly, but not least, the premise of this series is intriguing in itself. What would happen if vampires were to rule a city? How would that work? Some of the details of this concept is explained in this initial book, but others are left out, which makes me curious to continue reading. For instance, I would like to know more of the background and the hierarchy of the vampire rulership. And why is it that some vampires can stay out during the day albeit not in direct sunlight? Moreover, are all vampires evil or are there exceptions?

I’m sure these questions (and more) will be addressed in the following books, and I’m looking forward to get the answers, as I return to the town of Morganville in a very near future. One thing that lowered the grade however was the cliff-hanger ending, which had the book ending practically in the middle of an action scene. You probably will want to have acquired the sequel The Dead Girls’ Dance by the time you finish this book.


Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series: Hush Hush, book #2

Published: October 19th 2010

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Details: Hardcover, 432 pages

Rating: 2/5

My Summary:

I loved Hush Hush, mostly because of the dangerous and intriguing character Patch. Unfortunately he is absent for most part of this sequel, and Nora has turned into an irrational, angry, whiny and weak heroine. I’m sad to say that this book was a disappointment. Still an easy read, and I remain curious to read the conclusion to the series in Silence, out next year.

A few chapters in:

Ever since I read Hush Hush some time ago, I have been eagerly waiting to read this sequel. Fitzpatrick has a way with words that make me feel as if I’m watching the story unfold from the front row of a cinema theatre. It’s that vivid. Consequently, I just know that the sequel will be as entertaining as Hush Hush was. Plus, it has got great reviews.

I’m now a few chapters into Crescendo, and Fitzpatrick does not disappoint. I’m pulled into the story immediately as I follow Nora’s father during the last terrifying hours of his life (in the prologue).

Fast forward to present day and the troublesome relationship of Nora and Patch. It’s been two months since Patch saved Nora’s life and was given back his wings and a place as a guardian angel. You would have thought that this achievement would put a stop to any doubts regarding Patch’s intentions, seeing as he is now clearly working for the good guys. Or is he? Nora is still doubting pretty much everything about him – primarily his feelings for her. All doubts are of course stemming from the fact that she still doesn’t know much about him. Patch isn’t (as we know by now), the most talkative guy out there.

When Patch appears to have secretly visited Nora’s archenemy Marcie Millar, and refuses to explain it upon Nora’s confrontation, it all becomes too much and Nora breaks up with him.

As much as I love the bad boy character in Patch, I have to say I rejoiced when that happened, because from what I saw, that did not seem like a healthy balanced relationship to me, Nora being way too attached to a seemingly distracted/busy/arrogant Patch. So way to go Nora!

I know there may be ulterior motives behind Patch’s actions (angels stuff that we are yet unaware of), but he has to start including Nora into his thoughts, or else how is she ever going to be able to trust him? As it is now, she’s better off without him.

At the same time, Scott, an old childhood friend moves back to town. At first, I expected him to immediately throw himself over Nora, creating that love triangle we love so much in young adult fiction these days. But, that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, Scott – all though good-looking, is almost rivaling Patch with his grumpy attitude and shady past. It’ll be interesting to see how he will fit into the story, because at the moment I have no idea.

From the prologue, I am also guessing that Nora will start investigating her father’s death, hopefully casting some light on the events that led up to it, including her link to the Nephilim.

All in all, I’m guessing I’m in for an exciting read!

After finishing the book:

It started out so great, with so much potential. We had the charismatic Patch, and his dramatic relationship with Nora. Throw in a new boy in town with secrets of his own – Scott. While underneath it all an outwordly and dangerous angel and Nephilim world is lurking.

Instead, what did we get?

An absent Patch, who made an appearence here and there occasionally, mostly to save Nora or Marcie from various situations. But certainly not enough apearences to keep me interested. The new guy Scott turned out to be a joke. Rude, strange, weak. A side character just like Elliot in Hush Hush. I was simply not interested in him. Of the nephilim / angel world we only got glimpses here and there, except for the last three chapters when some of it is explained.

So, if nothing of the above, then what was the plot about?

To tell you the truth, I am still not completely sure of that myself. At the beginning Nora broke up with Patch, because she doubted his feelings for her (which I could understand). The rest of the book is mainly about Nora’s emotional turmoil following that break-up. It was quite confusing to read. It felt like listening to a confused friend going on and on about an ex-boyfriend post break up. That oh, she loves him, but they can’t be together, but he is a jerk, yet he is the best that ever happened to her, and she wants him, but it would never work out between them, and either way he is a jerk.. and so on and so forth.

I did understand the emotions Nora went through (break-ups are tough), especially seeing as she is young, and Patch was her first love. Yet, it’s hard to sympathize with such an irrational and whiny heroine. She keeps making stupid decisions, and as such ends up in the most ridiculous scenarios, breaking into numerous bedrooms/flats/cars, sneaking, stealing and lying.

After seeing her behaving this way for a while I started to feel that she wasn’t much better than her archenemy Marcie herself. Worse still, I was beginning to wonder what the heck Patch ever saw in her. And that can’t be good. Because Patch’s and Nora’s relationship was the driving force behind me turning pages in Hush Hush.

The Bottom Line:

So to sum it up, my hopes for Crescendo were that it was going to take a step forward, delving more into Patch’s background, character growth, the world of angels and nephilim and more about Nora’s part in the whole scheme of things.

Instead it felt as if the plot got stuck stomping at the very same spot, where we left off in Hush Hush. There was yet again a stalker attempting to harm Nora, there were the same trust issues regarding Patch, and Nora kept making the same stupid decisions putting herself in numerous dangerous situations, again.

As if nothing had been learnt from the events in Hush Hush. At the end of it, I was starting to lose interest, and frankly couldn’t care less about Nora - whether she was going to make it or not and who the bad guy was.

All that said, I still read it quickly, as it is very well written. I haven’t changed my mind regarding Fitzpatrick’s writing. She knows how to write, no question about that. I am also still curious to see what will happen next, (curious but no longer dying to know) and I will probably read the final installment Silence, to be released in the fall next year. My expectations however have now been lowered. Which may not always be a bad thing. I might enjoy Silence more. Let’s hope so.


Review: Absolution by Jennifer Laurens

Series: Heavenly, book #3

Published: October 1st 2010

Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing

Details: Paperback 220 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Last installment of the lovely Heavenly series. Zoe is fighting evil spirits, as well as trying to choose between human Weston and angel Matthias. Another wonderful read with all the characters that I’ve come to love. However, as a fan of Weston, I was slightly dissapointed at some turns of events. All in all great but not as amazing as Penitence.

A few chapters in:

Oh, I am so happy!!! I finally got this book in my hands, and believe me, I’ve been eagerly waiting for it ever since I finished the wonderful prequel Penitence. It looks as if this book will continue along the same lines – have only read a few reviews (too afraid of spoilers!) – but those have all confirmed what I was hoping – that Absolution will bring a perfect end to what is turning out to be an amazing trilogy.

Ok, so before I start, let’s just take a few deep breaths, and if I can manage to lower my expectations just slightly that would be good too. At the moment they are skyrocket high, never a good thing as it leaves too much space in there for disappointments.

Right, so it’s just a book, no big deal. May not be exactly what I was hoping for, but that’s OK too.

All good? Ok, let’s read!!!

I’m now a few chapters in. It starts just where Penitence left off, on the day of Brady’s funeral. Zoe and Chase are on their way to Krissy’s house, to talk to Krissy who seemed upset about something. As you may recall from Penitence, Krissy’s father appears to be one evil man, if judged by the many black spirits that constantly encircle his persona. Krissy refuses to tell Zoe what is bothering her, but it I have a strong feeling her father has something to do with it.

Meanwhile, the father of Matthias, the evil Albert, is making Zoe’s family home life a living hell, causing her parents to argue at all times. Will Zoe ever be able to make it stop, and if so, how? She decides to tell her parents the truth about her being able to communicate with spirits. Because if they know that Albert is causing their rages, that may prevent it. Or so she hopes.

And this is as far as I’ve got. As usual I have no clue where the plot will take me. It seems as if Krissy will play a bigger part here, but how? Will Weston return again? Please Laurens, make him return! And finally, will Zoe be able to get rid of Albert, and keep Matthias at the same time?

So many questions. Can they all be answered in less than 200 pages? I truly hope so!

After finishing the book:

It’s taken me a few days to collect my thoughts regarding this book. I liked it, very much even, but it also lacked that special something that made Penitence so amazing. I’m finding it difficult to put my finger on exactly what that was.

Once again, the prose was excellent and I got pulled in immediately – invested as I was in all the characters – as I followed Zoe’s struggles to maintain peace all around herself. Peace, that Matthias father Albert was bent on shattering. As you may recall from Penitence, his attempts at destroying Zoe’s life are interlaced with his goal of hurting Matthias. Some father, right?

Consequently, this last installment takes on a darker tone, as evil spirits swarm just about everywhere around Zoe. Brady resurrects as a black spirit haunting Weston. As hinted earlier, black spirits are constantly encircling Krissy’s dad. And of course there is Albert, stirring up fights in Zoe’s family. A lot of times, it just felt like Zoe went from crisis to crisis, trying desperately to put out fires.

There is also the issue of that choice between Weston and Matthias. Not an easy one, I definitely agree on that. I realized though in Absolution that Zoe’s first and hence deepest love is, and will always be Matthias. No matter how crazy in love Weston is with her, no matter how sweet he is, and how real, he will always be her second choice. And that pained me to see. Weston is going out of his way to reach Zoe. He literally lays his heart out for her to take, and she just goes along with it, takes his heart, but doesn’t truly give anything back. Because, even though she loves him, she still loves Matthias more.

For me, as someone who fell in love with Weston in Penitence, that was a bit of a disappointment, to see Weston treated that way. I mean, poor guy to have to compete against an angel! Matthias is of course as divine as before, (all jealousy now gone) always as forgiving, reassuring and loving as he was in Heavenly. There is nothing bad to say about him, because he is perfect. But just like in Heavenly, I didn’t feel the connection between her and Matthias, not the way I felt Weston. Then again, this might have been just a difference in taste, because I’ve read quite a few reviewers who were team Matthias all the way. So maybe that’s just it. I happened to vote on the other guy this time.

Beware of spoilers:

The ending. Well, it was bittersweet, but once again, I felt more for Weston than I did for Matthias and Zoe. Because did this mean that Matthias and Zoe one day will be reunited? If so, what about Weston? Is he supposed to just let Zoe go when that happens? Will Zoe ever be able to truly love Weston, as long as she remembers and longs for Matthias? For the sake of Weston I hope that Matthias erased himself. I actually do. As sad as that is.

End of spoilers

The Bottom Line:

All that said, just the fact that I am finding myself this emotional regarding all these characters proves that it is a great series. It’s been some time since I felt this invested in fictional characters, that’s for sure! So even though the direction of the story in this book (and the ending) wasn’t completely what I was hoping for, it is still very much worth the read. All in all, a wonderful series that I am recommending everyone to read!


Review: Old Magic by Marianne Curley

Series: No, stand-alone

Published: February 26th 2002

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Details: Paperback, 317 pages

My Rating: 1/5

My Summary:

Stand-alone novel about Kate and Jarrod who time travel to medieval England in order to prevent a curse to be casted on Jarrod’s family. First half of the book dragged, but it got slightly better in the second half – the time travel section. My main problems were Jarrod who was a wimp and the simplistic plot & writing, which was too young adult for me. Probably ok for younger teens.

A few chapters in:

Witchcraft, time travel and romance. A (gasp!) stand-alone book, almost never heard of in the young adult paranormal genre these days. And finally, written by Marianne Curley, an Australian author I’ve been curious about for some time.(She is also the author of the highly acclaimed The Guardians of Time Trilogy.)

All of the above, combined with the fact that it was standing there literally waiting for me while I was browsing the library shelf for something to read, made me pick it up.

I’m now a few chapters in, and while it’s an OK read, I’m not feeling completely converted just yet.

Kate is a witch. Meaning, she knows how to cast minor spells such as turning on the radio in the next room or fast-forwarding the minute-hands on the clock. Her speciality however is to get inside people’s heads in order to sense their general feelings.

Witchcraft runs in her family, all though the only family she’s ever known is her granny with whom she lives. Her mom abandoned her when she was only an infant. Because of her and her granny’s abilities, they have a bit of a reputation in the small town of Ashpeak where they live.

One day in school, Jarrod, the new guy arrives. Kate immediately senses that something is different about him. When Jarrod is being teased by the other guys in class, a storm is suddenly conjured up out of thin air, throwing things around within the walls of the class room. What Kate suspected before is confirmed. Jarrod has some serious magical powers.

Problem is, he is not aware of it, and he refuses to listen to Kate, who he believes is one crazy witch.

This is as far as I’ve got. I’m liking the fact that we’ve got alternating POV’s following both Kate’s and Jarrod’s thoughts. Yet, like I said before, I don’t feel any pull towards it. Hoping to feel it though, as I read more.

After finishing the book:

On finishing this book, I had a similar feeling to when I finished A Great and Terribly Beauty by Libba Bray. That the writing was good, but the story failed to pull me in, and in both cases I suspect it was because I am considerably older than the target audience.

As for the review:

Well, as I mentioned, the first half of the book dragged, to the point that I almost gave up. We are given Kate’s background story of being an outcast, due to being a witch, in the small village of Ashpeak where she and her grandma live. Enters Jarrod, the new guy in town, and he and Kate start a wary friendship. Wary because Jarrod – spineless as he is – is too afraid to acknowledge outcast Kate in school – as to not lose popularity himself.

They do however get to know each other better (off school) and as they do, Kate realizes two things. 1) Jarrod has powerful magical powers and 2) His family is unusually accident-prone, to the point that she suspects a curse has been placed upon them. After this realization, she repeatedly (and I mean literally repeatedly) tries to convince Jarrod to see this truth, while Jarrod repeatedly denies it. And this goes on..and on..and on..and on..until I was ready to throw the book into a wall.

Then just as the book was about to fly, Jarrod finally makes up his mind to follow Kate on a time travel to meet with his ancestors in medieval England in order to prevent the curse (which they believe was casted around that time era).

Here the pace picks up, and I gathered enough interest to keep going. Kate and Jarrod visit the ancestors Lord Thorntyne and his family at their castle – and are welcomed in. Not long after, it’s made very clear who the source of the curse is. There is this illegitimate brother – Rhauk – who lives in a neighbouring castle called the Blacklands (sounds evil anyone?), and who is looking to revenge his lost inheritance with a curse. The question is now, will the clumsy wimp known as Jarrod gather enough strength and magical powers to beat the powerful magician Rhauk, thus destroying the curse in the process?

Well, as much as I want to avoid spoilers, I can’t pretend the ending was a surprise. And believe me, as you are reading it you will know the end way before time as well. The plot was as predictable as a child story. I would have needed more subplots or twists and turns to keep me interested. This was simply put, too simplistic.

There is also a romance between Kate and Jarrod, which never pulled me in either. Kate was such a strong and mature girl, and I couldn’t fathom how she could ever be interested in Jarrod, let alone go through so much trouble to save him and his family from a curse. She mutters herself quite a few times how she thinks that Jarrod is a spineless wimp. So I found it hard to believe in the romantic connection that they supposedly shared. Granted, Jarrod does change towards the very end, but it was a bit too late for me.

The Bottom Line:

All that being said, the book wasn’t completely bad, meaning I’ve read worse. It did redeem itself slightly towards the end. And, like I said when reviewing A Great and Terrible Beauty, had I been say 14 years of age, chances are I would have loved it.

As for now, I’m contemplating whether to read more of Curley’s books. Her trilogy The Guardians of Time has received high praise but after reading this debut novel of hers.. let’s just say, that trilogy just moved down a couple of notches on my TBR-list.

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