Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3) by Julia Kagawa

Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
by Julia Kagawa

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for the arc!

I was very excited when I received a copy of the Iron Queen, since I have recently finished reading the Iron Fey book #2, Iron Daughter, and read Iron Queen in a day’s time. When we left Meghan Chase at the end of Iron Daughter, Meghan and Ash had both been revoked of their ties with their respective royal fey courts and also banished as exiles from Faerie forever.

Meghan and Ash together have accepted their fates and accepted their future in the human world. The Iron Fey, however, prove to still be a threat for Meghan, her dealings with fey, and keeping her from having a happy relationship with Ash. The false king and his Iron fey minions still after Meghan, and the destruction of the Iron fey in Faerie is becoming more destructive – so much that the courts reconsider their rulings for Meghan and Ash, and also to wage a united front against the Iron fey forces. Meghan, Ash, Puck and her ally friends (including the ever elusive Grim) are once again in a mission, to defeat the false king and his forces, and ultimately the fate of all of Faerie’s occupants.

I was thrilled that Iron Queen not only met my expectations set by the other two books, but exceeded my expectations – it is a wonderful story of self-acceptance and acceptance of responsibility (on Meghan’s part), discovery, and of course, the romance between Ash and Meghan and the new trials their relationship faces. If you are thinking “Puck,” then you are right – he is still part of the strain on the Meghan/Ash relationship, but other events and decisions also test their loyalty and trust of one another.

Many previously encountered characters come into play once again in the Iron Queen, as well as a whole pack of new characters (my favorite has to be Razor). I also love the return of Grimlakin – every time, I picture him as the Cheshire cat from Alice and Wonderland J, especially hearing Grim speaking with Stephen Fry’s voice (he voiced the Chesire Cat in the 2010 Disney Alice and Wonderland movie).

There are parts that keep you on the edge of your seat/ biting your nails as you read, and others that are so emotionally driven that I was brought to tears at some points. The book does not fail to deliver an amazing tale. Thank you Julia Kagawa for yet another masterful novel, and the beautifully written continuation of Meghan Chase and her dealings with Faerie and fey. I eagerly await the release of Iron Knight.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate #2)
by Gail Carriger

When a mysterious plague falls upon the supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves and ghosts) in London that causes normality – vampires and werewolves are turning into normal humans, while the ghosts appear to be excised. Because Lord Connall
Maccon works for the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR), he has been enlisted to help determine what is causing this plague of “humanization” among London’s supernaturals, as well as to ensure that it is not some type of weapon against the supernaturals. As if that is not enough to worry about, Alexia, who is now the Woolsey Alpha female because of her marriage to Connall, must deal with the return of the rest of the Woolsey pack, who had been fighting in the Middle East, and now are camped in her front lawn. Connall also has another issue to attend to – his old pack in Scotland has recently lost their Alpha, so he must head up there to ensure the wellbeing of his old pack and also help them choose another Alpha.

As Connall races up from London to Scotland, the humanizing plague actually leaves London, but seems to be following Connall and this plague has been affecting his old pack for the last several months.

Upon discovering the humanizing plague is following Connall on his travels and that Alexia is being eyed by the supernatural community as the potential thing causing the plague of humanization (thus potentially threatening her life), Alexia, upon the Woolsey pack Beta’s request, determines to leave London and follow her husband via dirigible with a whole platoon accompanying her. Ha, not an actual platoon, but with her is Felicity, Ivy, Tunstell, Angelique (Alexia’s maid/ fabulous hair dresser) and Madame Lefoux seems to have joined their jolly parade as well. The threats upon Alexia’s life, however, seem to be following her even after she has left London, and there is much more drama to be had upon arriving in Scotland to Connall’s old pack…

While I thoroughly enjoyed continuing Alexia’s story and spunkiness, I was not as WOW-ed by the storyline or plot in this book. I was also disappointed by the lack of sexual tension / better descriptions of Alexia and Lord Maccon’s encounters that the first book set the bar for, as well as the lack of the love/hate verbal relationship between the two that really made Soulless awesome. I loved the new addition of Madame Lefoux and her witty character, as well as dress code, and also Lord Maccon’s/ Woolsey pack Omega - Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings. :)

The word dirigible = love it. I did not know prior to this book that it is an actual word that is a synonym for blimp and zeppelin. But it is really the most appropriate word for it in the book – it just sounds right given the time era and steampunk genre.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Felicity-Ivy-Tunstell triangle of … woe (I shall refer to it) – wow to how nasty Felicity is. I hope later on in the series, she (and Alexia’s other sister) get what’s coming to them.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Faerie Wars (Faerie Wars #1) by Herbie Brennan

Faerie Wars (Faerie Wars #1)
by Herbie Brennan

It took awhile for me to get into the book, as the first few chapters set the stage for bringing the main characters together. After that, the story picked up, and began to become an enticing story. Faerie Wars is a bit different than the other YA faerie novels and stories out and popular at the moment in that it really doesn’t have any romance happening for or between the characters (though the end of the book seems to suggest this may not be the case for the second book in the series).

There are also some topics that the book covers that kind of came out of left field – like Wahh? – mainly the whole affair with the secretary and…Henry’s Mom. I don’t know, it just seemed a bit odd of a storyline. Why not just make it the businessman/ father who’s having an affair with his secretary?

Anyway, the book is about a boy named Henry who lives in our world, in merry ol’ England, Mr. Fogarty – an old man Henry does errands for/cleans his house and has a secret, questionable past, and Pyrgus, the crown prince to the Purple Empire of the world of Faerie.

After multiple attempts on his life, Pyrgus’ father, the emperor of the Purple Empire decides it is best to hide Pyrgus in the human world for the time being. Things, however, do not go as planned when Pyrgus is sent through the portal to his destination…

Meanwhile, as Henry’s normal life as he knew it is becoming non-existent with the revelation of his mother’s affair and the separating of his parents, Henry continues his work for Mr. Fogarty. Now, it is also good to know that Mr. Fogarty is one of those really paranoid people – aliens are real and have abducted over a million Americans, fairy tale creatures exist – THAT kind of paranoid. Well, he’s actually right about one thing. As Henry is working one day in Mr. Fogarty’s garden, Mr. Fogarty’s cat has caught something that looks like butterfly, but turns out to be a faerie – little man with wings. Capturing it from the cat and bringing it to Mr. Fogarty, they soon are able to figure out a means of communicating with the faerie, who just happens to be Pyrgus.

As Henry and Mr. Fogarty get to know Pyrgus and hear his story, they are also collecting tools to create a portal so that Pyrgus can get back to Faerie. Demonic forces, however, are at work and plans do not go as planned…

While I was intrigued with the Faerie/Demon story combination, I wish we were able to have seen more of it, rather than spending so much time on Henry’s home life. I also wish we had learned more about the other types of magic that faeries had in Faerie. I thoroughly enjoyed Pyrgus’ sister’s story in the book and her spunky character. I was very amused by the storyline that demons from Hell are actually the ones who sparked the alien sightings on Earth.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Dead-Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2) by Carrie Ryan

The Dead-Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2)
by Carrie Ryan

I thought the first book was only OK, but I decided to give the series the benefit of doubt, and read the sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves. The story follows Gabrielle (Gabry), who is the daughter of Mary, the protagonist of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Even in Vista on the seashores, the Unconsecrated are still an ever-looming threat to everyone. Gabry has been raised to follow the rules by the letter, but that all changes when Gabry is persuaded/ peer-pressured by her best friend, Cira and brother Catcher, along with a handful of other friends, to climb the barrier and explore the Ruins, which is the abandoned fair ground. A happy outing and promising romance (between Catcher and Gabry) is abruptly ruined when Unconsecrated turn up on the fair grounds. With the turning of some of her group mates and others in danger of becoming infected, Gabry flees back over the Barrier – knowing that her friends now face dire consequences for their adventure to the Ruins. Not only does this impact Cira and Catcher’s outcomes, but also leads Gabry to make and fulfill promises that put her continuously in danger, and ultimately changes life as she knew it in Vista.

I was sadly disappointed that this companion novel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth did not redeem the series as I optimistically hoped. I found Gabry’s character to be ever annoying and fleeting. I also did not like ANOTHER love triangle showing up between Gabry, Catcher and Elias. And to see her flip back and forth between loving, kissing, cuddling, one this moment and the other in the next, just really bothered me. I don’t think I will read the third book if it’s going to continue with Gabry’s story and her love triangle.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Immortal (Immortal #1) by Gillian Shields

Immortal (Immortal #1)
by Gillian Shields

With her grandmother ill and in a nursing home, and a father going off for military duty, Evie Johnson has been sent to Wyldcliffe Abbey, a boarding school set to turn girls into proper ladies (stuck in a time warp much?) as a scholarship student. She soon discovers that this is the nice way of putting that she is a charity case that the school is allowing – oh, she definitely knows it from her classmates and dorm-mates who are very unwelcoming -- constantly belittling her and plotting ways to get her into trouble so that she is to be kicked out. She tries her best to ignore it and just remain calm/neutral with the girls, and focuses on fitting in into her classes and learning the ever-growing list of strict rules and regulations of the school.

Making her way initially to the Abbey school, Evie is nearly strampled on by a dark horse and his mysterious, good-looking young master. Sebastian is ever growing in Evie’s mind and soon they are secretly meeting together night after night outside the Abbey. The more they meet, the more entranced Evie becomes with Sebastian, and the more curious she is about what he is hiding about his identity and past.

Intertwined with Evie’s story are excerpts of journal entries of a girl named Agnes, who lived in the Abbey before it was a house converted into a boarding school, over a hundred years ago. As Evie’s story progresses, we learn more about Agnes’ story and how she is connected with a boy named S. (let’s not be fooled here, it’s clearly Sebastian), her dealings with earthly magic, and also how she is connected with Evie and her story, 100 years after Agnes’ death mind you.

I thought the story was very similar to the Gemma Doyle series (both in setting (gothic-esque school, boarding school), and a group of girls discovering their affinity for magic). It also sort of reminded me of the Thirteenth Tale, with the discovery of Agens and Evies’ connection/identities.

I really did not like how disjointed the story was the first ¾ of the book. Going back and forth between Agnes and Evie was very frustrating and I think is the biggest weakness of the book. Perhaps if Agnes’ story, her journal entries made up the first half of the book, and then the story introduces Evie, it may have been a more enjoyable read. I also did not like how easily Evie “fell in love with” Sebastian – even though she finds out he’s so evil and is keeping these really big, important secrets that have everything to do with her.

Rating: 2/5 Stars.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1)
by Kiersten White

Evie has worked for the International Paranormal Containment Agency since they found her in the foster system at the age of 5. Why the interest in this girl? IPCA discovered that she can identify paranormals (seeing through hags, werewolves, vampires glamours). Evie is a normal teenage girl who loves the craziest outfits (love the pink boots), lives at the IPCA and if she is not out tagging and bagging paranormals, she is home-schooled in the facility.

There is something out there, lurking and causing the ever-growing number of paranormals turning up dead with no indication of how they died. Although this is all kept hush-hush from Evie at first, after she finds and contains an intruder Evie becomes more questioning of IPCA, their tactics and use of faeries. The intruder, a teenage boy named Lend, is also somewhat of a surprise – it is a paranormal that Evie (and IPCA) has never seen before. Under his glamour, Evie sees that his essence and real body is liquid, fluid (think Alex Mack from Nickelodeon). As the IPCA superiors become more entrenched with the masses of paranormals turning up dead, Evie spends time talking with Lend, ultimately leading her to question if she truly is a normal human girl with a special gift (like the IPCA has led her to believe) or is she herself a paranormal as well.

Throughout the story, Evie is also dealing with a faerie named Reth, whom she has been friends with since the time she came to IPCA, but is now stalking her and attempting to fill her with something – something that burns her and makes her glow gold in the area of her heart.

I thought this book was pretty cute, nicely paced, and was the kind of story you can’t put the book down until you finish it. Although there is somewhat of a cliff-hanger at the end, in the sense that not all of the questions the book brings up are answered yet, Kiersten does a fine job with the story. I enjoyed the blossoming friendship and romance between Evie and Lend, as well as Evie’s many many quirks.

Rating: 4/5 Stars.

Nightshade (Nightshade #1) by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade (Nightshade #1) 
by Andrea Cremer

For Calla Tor, her future is set in stone –or so she is thought to believe. She is the alpha female werewolf of the Nightshade pack and is set to be mated with the alpha male werewolf of the Bane pack, Ren, to eventually form a new pack, the Hallis pack. Her status as werewolf is referred to in the book as a Guardian. Though, they aren’t the normal kind of werewolves we’ve read many other books and stories about. The Guardians possess magic that allows them to be human and wolf at the same time, allowing them to shift between forms instantaneously, and can be triggered by emotions, as well as “on command.” From the start of the book, although Calla is adamant about upholding the rules and ways of her pack that have been instilled in her from birth, Calla breaks one of the most serious rules, and saves a human by fending a bear off him and then saving his life. Calla thinks that this one exception, this one incident of saving the human boy will not get her into any trouble, the boy won’t remember much, and she will never see the unfortunate hiker again. HARDLY. The boy she saved, Shay, turns up at her high school – he’s the new student and nephew of one of the head-honcho Keeper, who are persons with magical abilities and basically control the lives of the Guardians. With Shay’s presence now a constant part of Calla’s life, she begins to question her roles, duties, proposed future with Ren, her growing feelings for Shay, and the real history between Keepers and Guardians.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount and names of the secondary characters, specifically Calla’s pack members and also Ren’s pack members. I liked the development of Calla’s breaking away from what is expected of her and would rather make her own choices, her own destiny and to know the truth about multiple topics in the book. I did not like how each time Shay and Calla were alone and he wanted to know more about things, Calla would just let all the information and stuff fall out and just spew all the information he wants out of her. Much like Twilight and the Hunger Game series, there is the triangle love problem that Calla must deal with. I also hated the ending – cliffhangers are really not a fair way of ending a book, even if there are sequels in the works.

Also, I absolutely LOVE the cover!

Rating: 3/5 Stars.

Lover Eternal (The Black Dagger Brotherhood #2) by J.R.Ward

Lover Eternal (The Black Dagger Brotherhood #2)
by J.R.Ward

With the story of Wrath and Beth wrapped up, the second book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series focuses on Rhage, aka “Hollywood” nickname by his brothers. Rhage, who has been cursed by the Sacred Virgin for his anger and inappropriate behavior with the curse of turning into an uncontrollable dragon monster when threatened, wounded, or not getting enough sexual release or fighting, inadvertently stumbles across a woman named Mary. Mary is a cancer survivor who has developed a relationship with a caller at her job at the suicide hotline, a person that doesn’t talk to her, but only wishes to communicate/hear from her. This mysterious caller, Mary discovers is a young man named John Matthew, who cannot talk but is knowledgeable of sign-language. He has been following her and claims to be protecting her as she goes about her day and job as a suicide crisis hotline receptionist. Through her neighbor, a drop-dead gorgeous woman named Bella who lives next door from Mary’s barn house, Mary discovers that John is very special – noted by his hand-carved bracelet that turns out to be in a very rare language, and the bracelet has an intriguing word on it. Bella calls the Black Dagger Brotherhood to come see John, and Bella, John and Mary were asked to come to the Brotherhood manor. By chance and accident, Mary runs into Rhage in the manor – and Rhage instantly becomes infatuated with her. Mary, however, is not wooed at all by his smooth moves and breath-taking looks. With his growing interest and devotion to Mary, Rhage must also deal with his curse, which seems to be also reacting to Mary’s presence and growing interest in Rhage.
I think that this second book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was overall a success, in that it was entertaining, suspenseful and has a nice lead into the next book in the series. I would have liked some of the conflicts that appeared throughout the book to have been addressed more thoroughly instead of just glossed over. I really enjoyed reading about how Rhage actually has to use his smarts and be romantic in order to win Mary over. And of course, the sex scenes were as fantastic as the first book’s scenes.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gone (Wake Trilogy #3) by Lisa McMann

Gone (Wake Trilogy #3) 
by Lisa McMann


In this final book in the Wake trilogy by Lisa McMann, things do not get any easier or peachy-keen for Janie. Janie deals with the dilemma throughout the book about her future as a dream-catcher. After discovering her father on his deathbed and realizing his similar personal problems, Janie flip-flops back and forth throughout the book on whether to remain with Cabel and function normally in society and school, etc, OR to become a hermit, isolating herself from the world and dreams. Each choice has its pros and cons, as seen through Miss Stubin and Henry. On top of all this, Janie must continue dealing with her alcoholic mother, give up driving since there is a strong likelihood of her having an accident if she passes by a dreaming person, and then there is Cabel. Though Cabel is continuously reassuring Janie that he loves her no matter what and sticking through it all with her, his dreams tell Janie otherwise – that Cabel is unsure if he truly wants a future with Janie, knowing she will become blind and gnarled/crippled by her twenties.

While the book ends Janie’s story, I felt this book, the shortest of the three in the trilogy, was the weakest and least interesting of the books in the trilogy. Yes, we do find out what she decides ultimately at the end for her future and fate, but the book lacks the detail and suspense that was in the previous two books – which I think made them all the better. With this book, the sense of impending doom of Janie’s situation, no matter what future she decides for herself, is so prominent that I think it overshadows what could have been a better ending to the series.

Rating: 2/5 Stars.

Fade (Wake Trilogy #2) by Lisa McMann

Fade (Wake Trilogy #2) by Lisa McMann

While still maintaining her relationship with Cabel under raps, Janie has been asked to join the police force as a “narc,” and discover a sexual predator that is Fieldberg (??) high school. Although Cabel is adamantly against Janie’s involvement in discovering and catching the sexual predator that is lurking in the high school, Janie is determined to be able to help to the best of her ability. Through her dream-catcher skills and “field work” in her high school classes, Janie discovers there are is more than meets the eye to not only one of the most popular teachers in the school, but also involves multiple other school teachers as well in the sexual predator / assaulting scandal that is occurring within the high school. Along with all this drama at school and covert police work, Janie discovers more about her dream-catching future through police records and personal records left behind from Miss Stubin for her future dream-catcher predecessor. From Miss Stubins’ records, Janie does not have a hopeful, or healthy future ahead of her – the signs of which are already becoming present with her going blind and numb/ paralyzed for a time after exiting a dream.

I thought this book, the second in the Wake trilogy, was written well and the story was interesting. It kept the suspense throughout the story, as the reader and Janie are trying to determine who the sexual predator that lurks the school is, and uncovers some other nasty truths along with revelations Janie discovers at a hosted party for the advanced chemistry students at the teacher’s house, even though she herself was unwittingly drugged in a very inconspicuous way. I really thought that Ms. McMann did an excellent job keeping the reader in suspense, especially with the extent of the sexual predators that are lurking within Janie’s high school. I also liked the seeing the unfolding development of Janie and Cabel’s relationship; though I would have more appreciated it if Ms. McMann went into a bit more detail with their relationship, especially the physical aspects ( we are only given the most vague description of the first sexual encounter between Cabel and Janie, when I really wanted a bit more of  “leads up to it and end scene”.) But, being a YA novel, I guess I was sort of assuming that this would happen. Overall, I thought the book was very well written, kept the reader in suspense and interested throughout it, and a very good sequel to Wake.

Rating: 3/5 Stars.
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