Monday, 22 April 2013

Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Eternity Cure
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: May 1st 2013
Publication: Harlequin Teen Aus
Source: ARC received from publishers
Located HereGoodreads|Amazon

Allision Sekemoto has been cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love. She now follows the call of her creator Kannin from the psychotic vampire Sarren. The trail leads her to New Covington, her birthplace where she discovers there is a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago and is deadly to both humans and vampires alike. Will Allision be able to reach Kanin in time for a cure that only his secrets carry? How will she choose between the mortal world and her immortality.

Kagawa's sequel pleasantly surprised me, from the very first page a spark of curiosity and intrigue soon developed rapidly, fuelled on by those twists and turns that I hadn't expected at all with such new places, events, characters that almost demanded your attention. I became entranced in every moment of it. I think what I was most impressed with was the characterization, the exceeding development between relationships- particularly Allison and Zeke- and the unique aspects that made up the personalities of characters such as Jackal (who we see a lot more in this book) and Kanin were considerably developed. I was glad to see that Jackal's personality really helped lighten a world that was often full of such darkness and cruelty- I think the book as a whole really benefited from it. Kagawa's well-developed world building truly helps understand the facets of human desperation and the attempts of survival against all odds as well as their costs and sacrifices in the process.

The suspense really kept me incredibly engaged and I did not expect the considerable amount of twists that Kagawa weaves seamlessly throughout the novel. I'm also glad that Kagawa didn't shy away from the raw brutality of vampires and their capabilities, as there is a lot of well-written and engaging action. I sometimes felt that some of the scenes- particularly the middle section- was slow at times and although there was a lot of tension I sometimes felt something was missing that would give the moment or scene the edge it needed. In saying that though, I felt more connected to the characters and even empathized with some. Finally, the constant movement between one place and the other really helped in establishing characters changing emotions and was a great set up between scenes.

Beginning The Eternity Cure I hadn't really known what to expect but was glad to see the well-developed characterization, the increasing world building and that dark suspense  that kept me glued to the pages. Fans of the first book are sure to enjoy it and I would highly recommend this series to anyone thinking about reading it, it is truly engaging and truly takes you on a unique and suspenseful journey through the dystopian society.

A Favourite Quote from the Novel:
"I don't believe in fate," he said carefully, "but I do believe everything happens for a reason. That there is some plan, some meaning to this darkness we live in"

Rating 4/5
* An ARC was received from the publisher in an aexchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Title: Venom
Author: Fiona Paul
Publication Date: October 20th 2012
Publication: Harpercollins Aus/NZ
Source: Copy received from publishers
Located Here: Goodreads|Amazon

Cassandra Caravello is part of Venice's wealthy elite and her world is full of luxurious gowns, society parities and privileges, yet she longs for something more. While her fiancé is away studying in Paris she meets an audacious artist called Falco but is highly unsuitable. She then stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman with an X carved across her heart and is drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans and killers. Soon another body is found and Cass starts receiving death threats. Is Falco more involved than she imagined and will she be able to stay true to her fiancé to someone she's not even sure she can trust?

There were some elements to Venom that I did enjoy for example the vivid descriptions and writing flowed poetically for the most part and the world building of renaissance Venice was done superbly and almost made it feel tangible. It was interesting to see how one of Venice's elites everyday lifestyle ran and I think it was depicted well. It was also great to see how the author weaved artwork and design into the plot itself and my edition of the book was covered in rich patterns between pages that were illustrated really well. I also thought some of the interactions between side characters were interesting and they influenced the main characters thoughts.

Unfortunately, I kept waiting for something to draw me in, something that would grasp me into the story but as the pages flickered on and I reached the end of the book there was nothing memorable, nothing that stood out to me. There was always that element of predictability and that just made it seem tedious.I also found that occasionally the writing felt out of place and some of the word choice rather awkward. I think my main problem was the characters, I felt no emotion for them whatsoever, finding them flat and tedious and I often found the main character made unrealistic decisions and her demeanour frustrating. I especially felt that the romance completely overshadowed the mystery and I just wish the romance had been spread out more evenly or had some more depth to it. I think it was because of this that I felt the mystery was just anticlimactic and wasn't satisfying. I also thought it would have been great to see the side characters to be explored further and I think the book could have been condensed as it seemed really slow paced.

The blurb had given me such high expectations - an intriguing mystery, an array of unique characters, and I did get small pieces of that but honestly, my expectations were shattered within the first fifty or so pages. If you enjoy romance with an historical setting and some mystery then you can give this one a try, who know's, you may like it better then I did.

A Favourite Quote from the Novel:
"You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the sides of its golden prison"

Rating 2/5

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review: The Night has Teeth by Kat Kruger

Title: The Night has Teeth
Author: Kat Kruger
Publication Date: September 23rd 2012
Publication: Fierce Ink Press
Source: Copy received from author
Located Here: Goodreads|Amazon

Connor Lewis is chased by a memory, on his first day of kindergarden he bit a boy hard enough to scar the kid for life and has been a social outcast since. Through an unexpected turn of good fortune, he lands a scholarship to study in Paris, where everything starts to look up. Soon though, his host family inadvertently introduces him to the underworld of werewolves where there are two types: the born and the bitten. Those born to it take the form of elegant wolves, while the latter are cursed to transform into the half-man, half-beast creatures of horror movies. Connor's loyalties are tested as he becomes embroiled in a conflict where werewolves, mad science and teen angst collide.

The prologue of The Night has Teeth captured me immediately into our surroundings and really drew me into the rest of this well woven tale. There was some great use of foreshadowing and the characterisation for the main character was superb and was fleshed out really well in addition to being really easy to relate to. I found the surroundings were also vividly described and placed us into the atmosphere with a clear image in our heads that kept me engaged and absorbed me into the heart of Paris. The science behind the werewolves were explored deeply yet still retained that element of interest with aspects such as DNA and genetics. It is because of this that you can often tell that the author has researched her work and manages to convey that same level of understanding to her readers. The backstory of character's were also explored and it was great to see past situations and changes and I think it really added to the book and was executed well by the author.

I sometimes felt that some of that side characters such as Amara needed more characterisation and sometimes the writing felt a bit, simple but it in saying so I think it was made up through some vivid descriptions. I also sometimes felt like there was something missing, like some 'spark' or element of added suspense that needed to give the book that extra push although it was paced very well. Kruger often got the reader into the very midst of action and kept me hooked to the story the whole way through. I also really enjoyed how the author sometimes incorporated every day life effortlessly into the plot and it was really interesting to see how they interacted with different characters. I also enjoyed the implementation of the supernatural element of the wolves and how it influenced the plot. The cover of the novel itself is brilliant and really draws you in while at the same time reflecting aspects of the story.

Overall, The Night has Teeth has an intriguing setting with a great assortment of unique characters, a vivid setting and a well-executed supernatural element. I eagerly look forward to reading it's sequel and more works by the author.

A Favourite Quote from the Novel:
"I'm some sort of guinea pig in a home economics crash course for werewolves"

Rating 4/5 Stars

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Review: Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Title: Incarnation
Author: Emma Cornwall
Publication Date: September 18th 2012
Publication: Gallery Books
Source: Copy received from publishers
Located Here: Goodreads|Amazon

In Victorian London, a vampire seeks out the author of Dracula, to set the record straight. If one believes Bram Stoker's legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula's most wanton creation. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart and demands to know why the author lied. Soon she attempts to track down the person who has transformed her. She must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike.

For me, Incarnation had a very likable protagonist, Lucy, who through her knew abilities we come to understand yet still retains a sense of mystery. She thought through her decisions and took time to understand the consequences making her a more reliable and realistic character, in my opinion. I loved how the author got straight into the plot and didn't waste time in dawdling in unnecessary scenes and there was always a constant sense of intrigue and suspense which really kept me turning the pages. The background information was revealed piece by piece and so the built up to the suspense of tracking down the fiend that transformed her. The main character always had a clear purpose and drive that steered her on and the addition of the Arthurian legend was down clarity and was very informative.The implementation of the historic background- castles, royals and clothing and including it within the plot was done very well. It's always great to see that the side character's had their own personality and were fleshed out well through dialogue in a small amount of time.

I sometimes felt I could connect to some of the characters and wished we could see a new side to the main character I also did want more information about many of the other supernatural beings but I'm glad the vampires were explained well.Incarnation, asked many philosophical questions through vivid descriptions that really kept me thinking about society has changed so much overtime. I'm also glad that the romance itself was done really well and didn't take away from the plot. It was great Cornwall, placed Bram Stoker himself into the novel as I thought that was done really well. Also I think the cover is very grabbing and really draws you into the Victorian Era and sure is to attract many readers.

Overall, Incarnation is a vivid tale set in Victorian London with a great set of characters, an action orientated plot and brims with suspense and intrigue. I would definitely recommend it to those looking for a quick and mysterious read.

A Favorite Quote from the Novel:
"I did not ask for this existence...whatever this is. I am neither alive nor dead. I am trapped somewhere in between"
Rating 4/5

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review: The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas

Title: The Flower Reader
Author: Elizabeth Loupas
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
Publication: NAL Trade
Source: Copy received from author
Located Here: Goodreads|Amazon

Rinette Leslie of Granmuir has the ancient art of divining the future in flowers, but even her gift down not prepare her for the turmoil that comes with a casket full of Scotland's darkest secrets that is entrusted to her. Soon, her husband is brutally assassinated and she is demands justice before she will surrender the casket, but she is surrounded by ruthless men who will do anything to possess it. In the end it is only the flowers she can trust and only they will lead her safely home to Granmuir

The Flower Reader had a superb combination of poetic writing and vivid imagery that really captures you in the lush surroundings of Scotland and truly allows you to imagine yourself, through the character's eyes, into the many castles and towns that are weaved brilliantly through this novel. I felt I could connect to almost each of the character's, especially our protagonist Rinette and it was so interesting to see the interactions in court as well as their struggle to achieve power. Even character's who were portrayed as doing the 'wrong thing' had strong self-reasoning making the book feel all that more realistic. One of my favorite character's by far was Mary, Queen of Scots and I loved how Loupas portrayed her more as a younger almost naive Queen yet still gave her that drive for ambition that strengthened her personality. Rinette was a strong hearted and courageous character that refused to back down in the face of adversary and it was great to see her take situations into her own hands instead of being the 'Damsel in the Distress'

I did wish to see more integration of the ancient art of Floromancy spread consistently but the integration of the art itself was done with great clarity and fit into the plot perfectly. It was great how we could see the effects of the flowers having serious repercussions and I loved the little insights we got into into characters personality. Mystery, the book revolves around it and it's consistent, puzzling and kept me guessing me until the end. Nicolas de Clerac, one of the characters Rinette closely associates with had a vibrant personality and it was interesting to see his mood shift depending on who he was surrounded by. You can tell the novel has been researched well and I'm really thankful for that because it added the depth and understanding that is needed to bring to life such a vivid historical setting.

Overall, The Flower Reader was an intriguing assortment of history, romance and a consistent and well-written mystery. I would definitely recommend reading this and I look forward to reading more work from this author.

A Favorite Quote from this Novel:"
In unison with the ladies in front of me I prayed, half-drowned in a haze of beeswax and perfume, sweat and sickness, my Latin phrases perfect but meaningless"
Rating 5/5 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Scent of Magic
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publication Date: December 18th 2012
Publication: Harlequin Teen Australia
Source: ARC received from publishers
Located Here: Goodreads|Amazon

The review for Touch of Power can be found here

In a unique position, Avry, the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms is believed to no longer exist in the minds of friends and foes alike. She must prevent King Tohon from winning control of the realms and find her sister and repair their estrangement. She must do this alone as, Kerrick returns to Alga to summon his country into battle. Avry will do anything to support Tohon's opponents. This includes infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills and figuring out how to stop Tohon's most horrible creations yet. Avry soon must figure out how to do the impossible or risk everything shes ever known.

There's just so many twists and turns in this book that really makes it such an enjoyable sequel. In the first novel, I wasn't much of a fan of the relationship between Kerrick and Avry but as they were separated in the sequel I've come to understand so much about them individually and in turn more about how their relationship has expanded. There was such a great mix of action and suspense that was really consistent throughout the novel. The switch between POVs again was great for suspense and a touch of foreshadowing but I think what it was most useful for was helping to flesh out scenarios and different surroundings through the eyes of a different character. It's brilliant how Snyder really developed the newly introduced characters, so much so that they feel like they've been there the whole time. The writing was captivating- simple and easy to follow especially during the scenes with King Tohon as I found they in particular were written really well and I could sense the tension in Avry slowly building up.

I really wanted more integration of the magic and the different types of mage's as well as the history of the kingdoms explored in detail but sadly I felt I didn't get much of that. I also felt that first 80 pages or so were a bit slow but I'm glad to say it rapidly picked up. Some of the descriptions of surroundings were really evocative and I really liked how the two POVs had such a distinctive and unique feel about them. The integration of the death and peace lilies were done with great detail and I especially enjoyed it- there addition to the plot was invaluable. As well as this the introduction of fresh politics and deceptive characters really made it a page turner. The ending really makes me want to read the next installment immediately.

Overall, I really enjoyed Snyder's sequel to the Healer series it just had that great mix of characterization, intriguing settings and a distinctiveness that allows it to be a memorable read. I really recommend reading this series, especially if you've already read the first one, as your sure to enjoy this one just as much.

A Favorite Quote from the Novel:
"Fury burned deep inside Kerrick. The branches of all the nearby trees shook with his angry. The tribesmen cried out in alarm, ducking and covering their heads with their arms"

*An ARC was received from the publisher in an exchange for an honest review

Rating 5/5 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Review: In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener

Title: In a Treacherous Court
Author: Michelle Diener
Publication Date: August 2nd 2011
Publication: Galley Books, Simon and Schuster
Source: Copy received from publishers
Located Here: Goodreads| Amazon

It's 1525, Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be the kings new illuminator inside the royal place. An attempt is placed on her life and the king's most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. They soon realise they are surrounded by a plot for the throne and that a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within. Who is this mastermind? Why are attacks being made on Susanna's life? Together they must slash through layers of deceit in a race against time

Firstly, the cover is designed very well, it really makes you want to open up and discover the secrets within and the background is just positioned so well. Michelle Diener managed to keep a steady and consistent pace as unevents unfolded, plots revealed and character's cast in a suspicious light. The element of mystery is always their, right from the very first page and your somewhat intrigued by what the character's motives are and so the author attempts to plunge us into their lives in 1525. The side characters were really unique and it was great how Diener explained their past and connected it with current situations. I also really liked that the author used two POVs, often switching between key scenes to highlight different emotions and give a new perspective on their surroundings which is always great. I really like the artist side of Susanna, it really opened up a new path that the book could of taken.

At around page 40, this book went downhill for me, I could feel the romance starting to take over the plot until the mystery and the historical setting were minuscule compared to constant exclamations of love. The character's felt two dimensional , flat, and when they were in a situation of harm I was too busy being bombarded with the romance or some other situation that added nothing to the plot, that I felt no empathy or connection to them. Some of the dialogue often felt out of place and almost rigid and just strange, especially in 1525. I really wanted more interaction with the historic setting, to me it just seemed like a backdrop for romance when it could of incorporated into the plot so well. I also often felt that lots of the scenes were just plain anticlimactic  building up to some major situation that was either 1) too predictable 2) not that suspenseful or 3) added nothing to the actual story. Some of the prose was great though and even though the setting was mainly used as a backdrop it did help strengthen some peripheral surroundings The ending (last 100 pages or so) managed to pull me back into the story and kept me -for the most part- interested until the very end.

Having recently read some of Phillipa Gregory's brilliant and unique historical fiction, I can't say I wasn't disappointed. I was expecting a vivid historical setting, with courageous characters and a breath-taking mystery- and I did get some of that but mostly I was just bombarded with romance and an anticlimactic mystery. If your a fan of romance, some history and a bit of mystery then give it a try however I would prefer works of Phillipa Gregory and Elizabeth Loupas before I get to this.

A Favorite Quote from the Novel:
"I am the Keeper of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell." John Parker spoke through gritted teeth

Rating 2/5

Monday, 3 December 2012

Review: The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Title: The Spindlers
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: October 2nd 2012
Publication: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Copy received from the author
Located Here: Goodreads|Amazon

Liza falls asleep one night and in the morning her brother Patrick has changed and she knows exactly what happened: His soul was stolen by the spindlers and she is the only one who can save him. Liza must go Below and uncovers the vast world populated with unique creatures as well as terrible dangers. She must face her greatest challenge at the spindlers nest as she tries to retrieve her brother from the evil queen and if she fails she will remain Below, forever.

A unique and rather riveting journey is deeply explored by our main character Liza who keeps a strong and brave attitude throughout her adventure. She remained focused on her goal of saving her brother and in the toughest of situations she never let go of the hope, which of course added a great moral to the tale.The writing kept me hooked, I've said it before and I'll say it again the reason why Oliver remains one of my favorite authors is because she spins any tale, no matter the audience into such a poetic rhythm. You just can't help to stop and re-read some of her beautifully written prose that reinforces her surroundings. The small illustrations above each chapter really fleshed out those characters, giving you a clear image to what they looked like and a great addition to the novel. I really liked the idea behind the Troglod Market and so glad that it was implemented well in the novel especially the idea behind the currency.

I desperately wanted more world-building, elements added to make it a more fantasy-orientated world. The places that were introduced were brilliant, interesting and had that sense of surprise, but they were minimal and I sought more places of suspense to keep me interested. Also the array of character's were small as besides her sidekick Mirabella (who Liza continually pointed out her flaws, making it really hard to relate to the character) so there wasn't really anyone to whom you could form an attachment to and therefore not as much character development. Despite so, I did enjoy the occasional one-liner from Mirabella that added some great comic-relief to some scenes. I also really enjoyed Liza's touch with danger, as we get to see her escape some nasty situations and her reaction to certain events. A predictable yet heart-warming ending gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling as I turned to the final page.

Overall, a vivid tale full of adventure and hints of fantasy that despite the element of predictability and somewhat lack of world building will leave you with a definitely leave you with a simile. Perfect for those looking for a simple, yet well-written tale.

A Favorite Quote from the Novel:
"Liza told herself stories as though she was weaving and knotting an endless rope. Then, no matter how dark or terrible the pit she found herself in, she could pull herself out, inch by inch and hand over hand, on the long rope of stories"

Rating 3.5/5

Monday, 22 October 2012

International Giveaway- Rebel Heart

I'm happy to announce my first giveaway and yes, it's international!
TWO WINNERS will receive a Dust Lands Prize Pack which includes a custom water bottle and a paperback copy of Rebel Heart:

The Rules:
- One entry per household
- All entries via Raffelcopter will be verified and any false entries will be disqualified 
- Winners will be notified by email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond before I have to choose a new winner :(
- I am not responsible for any lost packages

This giveaway is now closed! I've emailed the winners and they will be receiving their prizes soon. Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter, much appreciated. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway