Tag Archive | fantasy

REVIEW: Firespell (Dark Elite #1) by Chloe Neill

Pub. Date: January 5th 2010
Publisher: Signet
Pages: 246
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★.5

Lily’s parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie’s creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens.

They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It’s too bad Lily doesn’t have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she’s discovered yet…

I hadn’t even heard of this book until I accidentally got the third in the series (Charmfall) at the library. Immediately I tracked down the first two and got reading.

I thought I would like it just fine but I honestly wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. I figured it was just another YA Paranormal school book because there are a lot out there. Boy was I wrong. Firespell is a well crafted, spellbinding world that had me longing to hop on a plane or a train or a bus to Chicago, stat. Parts of the book are a love story to the city.

Firespell is a page turner. When I say it’s face-paced, I mean it’s fast-freaking-paced. There is not one dull moment from the Brat Pack pranking Lily to Lily and co. getting chased by Reapers to the very end. It’s a tornado of action, to put it mildly. It’s a sharp, nail biting thrill ride until the very last page.

Add to the action the characters and you have a wicked novel. I fell in love with some of them, fell in hate with others and only the strongest of books can accomplish that. I will be starting Hexbound not soon enough.

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REVIEW: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Pub. Date: February 1st 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 363
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating: ★★★★

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

This sat on my to-read shelf for a long time, at home. Finally, after wanting a change from the dystopians I was reading, I picked it up, and boy I wish I read it sooner. This book is nothing short of fabulous.

I took my time reading this because, even though there are tree more in the series to read, I didn’t want it to end. I’d put it down for a day or two to read something else then pick it up again but by page 200 I couldn’t do that anymore. I just could not put this book down. Kagawa created such an original, fantastical world that just blew my mind. Nevernever felt very Alice in Wonderlandy meets The Enchanted Forest to me.

Add to the enchanting, intricate world the characters. There’s Meghan, our heroine, a loyal to a fault seventeen year old whose life turns upside down when her brother gets kidnapped. Meghan has a good heart and literally stops at nothing to get her brother back, forging deals and contracts along the way. She never cares if harm will come to her, as long as she gets her brother back safe. There’s Puck aka Robin Goodfellow (yep, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream) the fun, carefree Trickster who turns out to be much more than that. There’s Ash, the Ice Prince with a cold heart that warms by the end of the book. But I think above all of them, Grimalkin is my favorite character. Grim the talking cat who takes no shit. Grim the mischievous cat. If Kagawa wrote an entire series devoted to him, I would read it and reread it forever. I just love him so, so much.

But the best part of the book is the world. It takes a grand imagination to create this intricate world and the creatures in it. Kagawa has a dedication to detail that is fabulous. There the Winter Realm, Tir Na Nog, the Summer Court then the steam punk-esque Iron Fey realm. Then the wyldwood. All of them have such interesting and unique creatures in it it’s a wonder anyone could think up so many different things and bring them to life so spectacularly. (But I think the packrats of the Iron Fey are my favorite out of them all. What cute little buggers!)

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. While there were little things that bothered me – Meghan’s a-ha moment when Ash finally said her name wasn’t actually the first time, people standing who would be sitting in the next line then standing again the one after that – little things like that. However, that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book. I can’t wait to start the next installment.

REVIEW: Halflings by Heather Burch

Pub. Date: February 1st 2012
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing
Pages: 288
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Rating: ★

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

I have to say, this book started a wee bit too fast to me. One second it’s hi this is Nikki – oh she’s running from her life from some massive wolves (which turn out to be Hell Hounds) okay. It jumped the gun a little too soon out of the gate. Then came the plot, or what I think the author called the plot. It felt contrived and cliched.

There’s a girl and her name is Nikki. Apparently, she’s this badass chick that does karate, paints and rides a motorcycle. She has a normal life, normal upbringing, everything is daisies. That is, until, she starts getting attacked by evil creatures from hell out of nowhere. Shock, gasp, oh no! Sigh. But I figured it’s okay I’ll go on, even if this has the odour of a MarySue in the works, I will continue on in hopes of something to redeem it.

I really, really wanted to like this book and it had all the ingredients that made me think I would: Hell Hounds, badass sounding heroine, angels, and violence. But it kills me to say that I couldn’t find that redeeming quality. It was hard to continue. It was even harder to finish. I hate, hate, hate saying that about any book but I’m being honest. It was hard. There were too many holes, too many things thrown at you at once at times and the writing was weak. It skipped around and felt like the author barely finished a thought before blundering into the next scene mid-conversation with no real idea why or how they got there. I honestly felt like I was back in grade 9 reading Twilight, if it were about half-angels instead of glittery vampires.

There are things which I won’t spoil, if someone reading this wants to read it anyway, that were brought up, have potential, only to never make an appearance again. I just… I was left thinking why did I bother? I will not be reading book two.

 

REVIEW: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Pub. Date: January 17th 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 403
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating: ★★★★

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

It’s a bittersweet feeling, when a new book in a series you love is released. On one hand, you cannot wait to get your hands on it and devour it. On the other hand, you don’t want it to end because you’ll be left with a sense of nothingness as you wait the year or more for the next installment. This is exactly how I feel with Hallowed. How I feel right this second as I type this review. (According to GoodReads there will be a third, so.)

I will keep this spoiler free, fyi, so if it’s a little ambiguous in parts that is on purpose because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone.

Let me start off by saying I was weary of how this would go. Sometimes, sequels never quite measure up to what the first book was, even if the series is a lengthy one. That is especially true for the YA paranormal romance genre. Boy, was I blown away. Ms. Hand – not that you’re reading this – let me give you a round of applause, a standing O and maybe a big hug. Actually I’d like to shake you a bit as well for giving me all the feels and making me cry like a baby at 3:30 in the morning. But I digress.

Hallowed, as I said, gave me all the feels. One second I was smiling from ear to ear at how adorable and realistic Clara and Tucker’s young romance was then I was aching and sad at all the weight Clara has on her shoulders – the looming death of someone she loves very much. It’s hard being a 17 year old girl with the weight of all her problems plus the knowledge of a loved one dying. It broke my heart for her.

I wasn’t entirely sure how the Christian/Clara/Tucker triangle was going to unfold. I honestly adore both boys, and both relationships Clara has with each individual. I have never been so torn between two relationships in a book in my life. The love Tucker and Clara have for each other is so real and raw and strong that it’s hard not to root for them. But then there’s Christian; an angel-blood and definitely part of Clara’s purpose that it’s hard not to root for him too. But in the end, I can say while a little sad for one of the parties, I am content with the outcome. Clara for sure made the right choice in my mind.

In Hallowed you also get to meet many more angel-bloods, many more characters to fall in love with. And boy did I ever. There’s Billy – Clara’s mothers old friend from way back, and countless others; an entire congregation!

Hallowed is full of twists, turns and moments that make you go whaaaaaat? Be warned – it’s also filled with lots of heartache. Like I said, I was crying at 3:30 in the morning! I was crying until I read the last page of the book and closed it. If I’m being totally honest – I was crying after that. There is only one bad thing I can say about this book: why did it end!? I need more. I truly hope there is a third. I’m not quite ready to let go of Clara just yet. Bravo, Ms. Hand, you’ve done it again.

REVIEW: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 288
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating: ★★★★

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

I’ll admit it: it was the cover that originally drew me into this book. It happens to the best of us. It didn’t even sit on my shelf long. I bought it and maybe a week later I picked it up and started to read. It had a really strong start; jumped right into the swing of things. Ari is a freak with her silver hair and teal eyes “like a neon sea”. The drama and story begin to unfold when Ari finds a letter her dead mother wrote to her. Now, the letter was a catalyst, a springboard, to get the story going. I understand that but one things that bothered me about it was that it wasn’t really explained. It was nothing more than a blurb and that bothered me. I was left wondering, um, why? However, I quickly got over that.

Darkness is fast paced, something I like. Ari quickly heads to New 2 – which was once New Orleans but thirteen years ago, Katrina hit and the government sold it to a group called the Novem. I liked this concept. A hint of dystopia in an urban fantasy.

Ari is a badass. She’s not your typical heroin of a YA series. She’s a sarcastic, clever, kick-ass, gun wielding chick determined to find more about who and what she is. And she has a bit of a potty mouth – something I wasn’t expecting. It’s rare to find a YA book throw around fuck.

The world this book takes place in is great – one I wouldn’t mind stumbling down the rabbit hole into. New 2 is home to vampires, shifters, witches, and wait for it, Greek Gods. One to be exact but that’s a spoiler and I definitely don’t want to spoil you. I found that the book was a little short, 273 pages wasn’t enough to fully develop the other characters, the relationships and everything else. But with that said, it has such potential and I really did enjoy it. I read 200 pages in one go of it at 4 in the morning and that’s saying something. It has some great twists, turns and moments that make you go whaaaaaaaaaat? Suffice it to say, I’m counting down the days till February when A Beautiful Evil comes out.

REVIEW: Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff

Pub. Date: September 6th 2011
Publisher: New American Library
Pages: 302
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Vampires
Rating: ★★★★

When Annelise meets dark and seductive Ronan, he promises her a new life-if she has the courage to chance the unknown. Now, she’s whisked away to a mysterious island and pitted against other female recruits to become a Watcher-girls who are partnered with vampires and assist them in their missions. To survive and become a Watcher, Annelise has to beat out every other girl, but she’s determined to do so, because to fail doesn’t mean dishonor-it means death.

I know, I know, vampires are over-done, yada yada, blah blah blah. But I can’t escape them. What can I say? I’m a sucker for them. I’ve loved vampire books, stories, etc since I was a kid, back when Buffy was cool. I noticed this book on GoodReads a while back and marked it as to-buy till I could find my copy. Fast forward a few months and I finally had it in my hands. Once in, I immediately fell in love with Annelise. Clever, witty, and a brain to boot. She’s strong. You see that as the series goes on, constantly having to overcome another obstacle when she’s already have a rougher than rough life. But then again, you wouldn’t find yourself on the Isle if you hadn’t.

What I like is this book isn’t driven on a romance, or a love triangle. While yes, there are hot guys in this – Ronan for one – Annelise is driven to survive and get the hell off of the island. Isle of Night is kind of Vampire Academy meets The Hunger Games. Only the fittest of the girls will become Watchers, only five. This is a world where only men can become vampires, but women, girls like Annelise, become Watchers. The elite of the elite, the strongest, most ruthless. I’m not sure I could survive a place like the Isle. I’ve got my wits but I’m definitely not the strongest person out there.

Isle of Night is not slow, either. When one problem “ends” another begins. There’s never a lull, never a moment where you want to put it down and keep turning the page to find out more abou thte Isle, the mysterious vampires, which girls are the next to go since they drop like flies in the book. I’m pleased to have a fresh vampire story to sink my teeth into. I cannot wait for the next installment.