Sunday, 31 July 2011

Iron Crowned - Book Review

Iron Crowned – Book Review – Dark Swan Series
Richelle Mead
Adult Urban Fantasy
Readers 16+
An embattled realm mystically entwined with our own, the other world is at the mercy of one woman…
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing on the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land’s Queen, she is fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful fear…
But who can she trust to help her? Fairy King Dorian has his own agenda. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her. To control the Crown’s all-consuming powers, Eugenie must confront an unimaginable temptation – one which puts her soul and the fate of the two worlds in mortal danger…

As much as I hate to admit it, I was a little disappointed with Richelle Mead’s third instalment in her dark swan series. Iron crowned was a book I had been waiting a long time to read and while I still enjoyed the story I found a lot of it to be repetitive and predictable.
That is not to say that people shouldn’t read it because they should. I mean the first two books, Storm Born and The Thorn Queen were really fantastic. Taking you into a world of fairies and magic (not to mention drool worthy guys), Eugenie Markham is a kick-ass heroine with a sarcastic tongue and an attraction for trouble.
However, while the first two books focus on her journey of self discovery and many battles with otherworldly creatures, this third book was mostly centred around her relationships with Dorian an Kiyo, or rather her yo-yo-ing back and forth between them. Dump Dorian, run to Kiyo, Kiyo turns psychotic, run back to Dorian, which is also a bit of a rinse and repeat of the first two books. More over this all led up to an interesting, if somewhat predictable ending.
Yet having said all that Iron Crowned was a good book, I just didn’t think it was as good as the first two in the series. Mind despite my disappoint with it I’m still really looking forward to fourth and final book in the series, Shadow Heir which is to be released in January of 2012 as, like nearly all Richelle Mead’s books, Iron Crowned ended on a cliff hanger and naturally I want to know what happens next.
Therefore I would still highly recommend the Dark Swan series to all adult fans of urban fantasy. Filled with humorous, intriguing and just plain gorgeous characters, the series is a dark, edgy and delicious read. Plus I’m totally in love with Dorian! ;)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lament - Book Review

Lament Book Review
The fairy queens deception

Maggie Stiefvater
YA Romantic Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. When a mysterious boy enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of nowhere, Deirdre finds herself infatuated. Trouble is, the enigmatic and conflicted Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin—and Deirdre is meant to be his next mark. Deirdre has to decide if Luke's feelings towards her are real, or only a way to lure her deeper into the world of Faerie.

Exploring Maggie Stiefvaters world of lament was both fun and interesting for as far as books on faeries go, this one was quite exceptional. It depicts the fae beautifully, making them playful yet deadly and sinister creatures which I really liked as it keeps to the truth of the old-world fairytales in which the green folk were wicked and tricksy.
Also Stiefvater has a way of bringing the characters to life that makes you really feel for all their hurts and downfalls, particularly those of the main character Deirdre who’s every choice impacts upon the lives of those nearest and dearest to her heart, sometimes with devastating consequences.
Full off the traditional themes of first love and self-discovery, Lament also explores the importance of friendship and the bitter taste of betrayal. All wrapped up in a 325 Page novel it was a really good read that I would recommend to any lover of the supernatural.  Also while it can easily be read as a standalone book I’m looking forward to its sequel ‘ballad’ and am interested to see how the characters will progress in this next instalment.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Mortal Kiss - Book Review

Mortal Kiss - Book Review
Alice Moss
YA Paranormal Romance

How much would you sacrifice for just one kiss?

When smouldering Finn and sexy Lucas arrive in Winter Mill life starts to get very complicated for Faye MaCarron. But two boys battling for her heart is just the start; events in town are turning sinister. There is a dead body in the woods, a motorcycle gang on the prowl, and the snow just won't stop falling.

Something Evil is at work and only Faye and best friend Liz can stop it. As the temperature drops and the nights draw in towards Halloween, they must uncover the dark secret at the heart of Winter Mill - before it's too late.

Like many Y/A books out in the market today Mortal Kiss contained all the elements of a great story as well as the familiar plotlines of tangled romance, forbidden friendships and ancient evils. However what really intrigued me was how Alice Moss seemed to find newer and more diverse ways of approaching them.

I particularly liked her new spin on werewolves and although the book began slowly I steadily found myself becoming more and more drawn in until the next thing I knew the story was finished. This left me disappointed for two reasons. One, because the story was finished and two, because I felt that a lot of questions had remained unanswered.

This of course makes me really interested to read the sequel, Fool's Silver (5th of Jan 2012) as I think Mortal Kiss needed a little more detail and back-story which hopefully Fool's Silver will contain.

Also while I enjoyed the book I personally felt that the story was aimed more at younger teens (11-14 year olds maybe) as a lot of emphasis was put on clothes, make-up and parties. Continually the romance moved to fast for my liking but apart from that it was a good read. I would have to recommend it to any younger teen who loves paranormal romance and unexpected plot twists.

First featured on Mortal Kiss was published January 6th 2011.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Daughter of the Flames - Book Review

Daughter of the Flames
Zoe Marriott
YA Fantasy
What if your deadliest enemy was the only one who could save you?
In an ancient temple in the mountains of Ruan, fifteen-year-old Zira trains to become a warrior priestess, fighting against the occupying forces of the tyrannical King Abheron. Then terror strikes at everything Zira loves.
To survive, she must unravel the secrets of her identity, decide her people’s fate – and accept her feelings for a man who should be her enemy…

 First things first, I loved this book. ‘Daughter of the Flames’ really gripped me from the first page and I was especially intrigued by Zira as its rare to find a main character who is described as anything less than perfect. I think her disfiguring scar along with aliments suffered by other characters made the book much more realistic and really set the Scene for a war torn country.
Also Marriott didn’t try to tone down scenes of death or suffering which made it easy to sympathize with the characters and the book was full of unexpected twists and turns where Zira’s plans were changed or thwarted. This of course made the book very hard to put down as I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next!
I also thought that the antagonist was unusual. As the story revealed hints about his dark and tragic past he was one of those strange characters who you couldn’t really like… but didn’t want to hate. This made the book really intriguing to read as I was constantly trying to work out his motives, and when the final curtain came down and the truth was revealed… well let’s just say that after all the suspense and build up I was not disappointed.

And then of course there were also the romantic elements between Zira and Sorin. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this as watching their relationship develop was sweet, but I wish it could have been drawn out over a longer period which is really my only criticism of the book. Then again the characters were in the middle of fighting a war.  
Overall though I really enjoyed this book and while I’ve recently been thinking that there has been a bit of a lack of great fantasy novels lately Zoe Marriott did not disappoint. She had totally earned a place up there with my other favourite authors, Tamora Pierce, Maria Snyder and Garth Nix as her novel ‘Daughter of the flames’ was a truly engaging read that I would recommend to every lover of fantasy and kick-ass heroines. :)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Shiver - Book Review

Shiver -Book Review
Maggie Stiefavter
YA Paranormal Romane

Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Every winter, she watches him but every summer, he disappears.
Sam lives two lives. In winter he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack and in summer, he has a few precious months to be human... until the cold makes him shift back again.

When Grace and Same finally meet they realize they can't bear to be apart. But as the winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human - or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever...

First off let me say that everything in this book was fantastic and so different to the other paranormal romances that I have read. I particularly liked Maggie Stiefvaters new take on werewolves, twisting the story so that it is the cold that forces the transformation into a wolf. 

However even the characters were not at all like I expected them to be. Take Sam for example, I have never known the author to make the main guy and love interest into such a sensitive sweetheart but it really worked, making the book an absolute pleasure to read.Yet admittedly while I didn’t care much for some of the secondary characters such as Grace's parents who really irritated me, I still became really engrossed in Sam and Graces story. The romance and attraction between them felt so real and there were some really sweet and heartbreaking moments between them.
This makes Shiver one of my favourite reads of this year. Enthralling, captivating and extremely hard to put down, I am eagerly looking forward to reading its sequel. Therefore I have no qualms about recommending this book to every lover of paranormal romance! It’s a fantastic read!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Book Review - Devils Kiss

Devils Kiss - Book rewview
Sarwat Chadda
YA Fantasy

Fifteen-year-old Billi SanGreal never meant to make history. Dragged at the age of ten into a modern-day Knights Templar by her father, the grand master, Billi's the first girl ever to be a Templar warrior. Her life is a rigorous and brutal round of weapon's practice, demon killing and occult lore - and a lot of bruises.

But then, temptation is placed in Billi's path - an alternative to her isolated life. But temptation brings consequences. In this case - the tenth plague - the death of all first borns and so Billi must choose her destiny. And she soon discovers, death isn't even the worst ...

This was a really intriguing read and the book's cover is fantastic. It had me captivated from page 1. filled with great characters that you can't help but feel for, Devil's kiss is about an epic battle between good and evil. Fast paced and engaging it continued to surprise me with its un-expected plot twists and grisly descriptions.

However while Romance took a somewhat back seat in the book it was still throughly enjoyable and the rare heart-swelling moments were either extremely sweet or heart-wrenchingly sad. Also the ending was a lot more subtle than I expected. At first I wasn't to keen on it and thought it a little anti-climatic. It did however leave me thinking and the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated what an ingenuous ending it actually was.

So overall I would totally recommend this book to everyone! It was truly an enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into its sequel :)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Iron Witch - Book Review

The Iron Witch
Karen Mahoney
YA Fantasy
 Donna is a freak. An outcast. Branded with iron tattoos that cover her hands and arms, she is cursed with magically-enhanced strength that she does everything she can to hide.
But now, the dark exiles of faerie are coming and Donna must choose between saving her best friend – or betraying one of the world’s greatest secrets…

Like many other Y/A  fantasy’s The Iron Witch was blended together with the usual the orphan, the outcast, the best friend’s unrequited love and the mysterious stranger with a secret storyline. However, the way Karen Mahoney puts it together is brilliant and I particularly liked her new take on alchemy. I think it was this element that really made the book unique and set it aside from other paranormal works. I also loved the made up setting of Iron Bridge, it sounds like such a real town.
Continually for a debut novel I think Karen Mahoney has done a fantastic job and I while I would have liked to see a little more depth to the characters I am curious to see how they shall progress in the next book, The Wood Queen which is due to release 12th Feb 2012 in the UK.
Therefore overall I could happily recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a great tale of the mystical and sometimes scary world of dark faeries with a little bit of romance, drama and intrigue thrown in. Combined with its really beautiful cover The Iron Witch was a fantastic book!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sovay - Book Review

SOVAY – Book Review
Celia Rees
YA Historical
England, 1974
She pulled down the black mask that she had worn at last winter’s masked ball and pulled up the green silk kerchief to hide the lower half of her face. The coach creaked almost to a halt at the crest of the rise, the horses sweating after the steep hill. As the driver drew back his whip to urge them onward, Sovay drew her pistol and walked her horse forward.
When Sovay becomes a highway robber, she does so to test her beloved’s ardour. But she continues for other reasons, reasons related to her father’s disappearance, and the claim that he has committed treason…
‘Sovay’ was a very enjoyable book but it wasn’t at all like I expected. From the books description I thought it would be all about a young girl turned outlaw, almost like a female robin hood, yet Celia Rees went a step further and made it so much more. Revolving around the French revolution the story was full of spies, death plots and intrigues, with likeable and interesting characters, each with their own history and engaging personality.
I particularly liked the main character Sovay, who keeps her strong will and daring hidden behind a demure female mask. She is truly a woman ahead of her time and I like how she often shocks her male companions by doing something society deems ‘manly and unfeminine’.
My only criticisms of this book are that I didn’t think there were enough outlaw scenes and I was never sure who Sovay’s love interest was supposed to be until the very end, however there were so many great potentials that I would have been happy with whoever she had ended up with.  Also I feel that some of the characters from the beginning were either forgotten or put aside yet having said that none of these things spoilt the book for me.
Overall it was a really enjoyable read I remain a big fan of Celia Rees’ books, my favourite however still being ‘Pirates’. Yet as for ‘Sovay’, I would recommend it to any lover of strong heroines, historical fiction and anyone who just wants something a little different.