Monday, 31 December 2012

Review - JUSTICE (The Ferryman and The Flame, Book 2), Rhiannon Paille

It's taken me forever to finish this book, what with Christmas and family stuff I haven't had a spare minute so I've been reading it in dribs and drabs over the last couple weeks. I'm not sure how that bodes in terms of reviewing as I probably haven't gotten the full effect of the story with reading being so disjointed, but hey ho.

Firstly, a huge thank you Rhiannon Paille for giving me an ARC of this, it's not out until May 7th 2013 so I'm very grateful for getting first dibs! She's got some kick ass artwork in the works for the book so make sure you check out her website and Facebook for some sneak peaks... But I digress, here goes the review.

Honestly, (and it pains me to say it) I didn't love this book anywhere near as much as I loved Surrender (Book 1). I'm a sucker for a romance and Surrender offered that in bucket loads through Krishani and Kaleil, but I really felt the lack of her presence in Justice. With her gone, however, you do get a really strong idea of Krishani's grief which only solidifies some of the decisions he makes and the journey he takes.

I can't say that it made me love him any more though. I did find that towards the end of the book, and without Kaleil, I got a bit tired of Krishani's lack of self preservation - but Paille does well with the introduction of various other characters to take the limelight off of him in the right places so his suicidal-ness doesn't become too irritating.

On the upside, Paille's writing style, as always, is fantastic. She keeps the pace going by taking us out of Avristar and in to The Lands of Men which offers up a whole new world of descriptive genius. We hear a lot more about the Valtanyana and get more of a feel for their freakishness which I think was needed.

I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that the addition of a few more Flames was interesting, too. They're not what you expect, certainly nothing like Kaleil, so for me, that gave them a whole new dimension and definitely explains the weapon/destruction side to them.

Character-wise, you see a different side to Pux and also a lot more of the 3 witch sisters which surprised me (in a good way). I'm still not sure I quite know what their intentions are so I'm hoping we see more of them in the next book (there better be a next book).

Overall I think the storyline holds itself well, there are plenty of mini stories from the different characters that add some context of what exactly is going on in Avristar/Lands of Men world and Krishani's journey and battle with his parable as the Ferryman definitely keeps you wanting to see how he ends up.

Like I say, I did miss Kaleil but if you've read Surrender (which you should) then you'll need to read Justice to get the answers to some pretty big questions! I'm gonna give it a 3.5/5, not as strong as Surrender but definitely worth a read, if for no other reason than to experience the amazing world that Paille is a pro at creating.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Review - Incendiary (Premonition Series, Book 4), Amy A. Bartol

Looking back at my GoodReads it's telling me that I read the last book in this series in September - It feels like forever ago and for the life of me I couldn't remember most of the story so I said to myself that I'd re-read the rest before I started on Incendiary.

But alas, temptation overruled and I started reading it anyway at about 6pm last night. And I am SO glad that I did. Within a few pages I was thrown straight back into the storyline and the characters all came flooding back. I can't remember why I gave the last book (Indebted, book 3) only 3 stars, it was before I started reviewing, but whatever disappointments I had from were were well and truly blown out of the water with Incendiary.

So 8 hours later, at 2.30am this morning I finally finished it and had fatigue not completely demolished me by then I would have reviewed it on the spot. I can't tell you the last time I stayed up stupidly late because I had to finish the book, not being able to physically put it down.

The thing that makes Bartol such an exceptional writer is her panache for dialogue. I've read a lot of books when I thought the descriptions of scenery were great, their twists were unexpected, or the storyline was original, but rarely to I find a book that not only has all of the above, but also has untouchable dialogue, too.

The characters are hilarious and each has their own personality. No one character feels like they were just placed their for convenience and they each have their own subtle storylines, relationships, powers etc. Reed, Evie and Russell are really strong protagonists and I love that Evie isn't the traditional 'woe-is-me- heroin (I've mentioned this a lot before, it pisses me off). Reed's dedication to his role as a Power is unwavering, as is his love for Evie, and Russell's development into a kick-ass angel brings even more humour and witty one liners.

The storyline was fantastic and the introduction of a handful of new characters really sped it along. Xavier, Tau and Anya, again, all have their own purpose, although some of that petered out towards the end of the novel as other things were going on so I'm really looking forward to more of them all in Iniquity.

The action, as always, was fantastic and, of course, the love triangle (well, triangleS - multiple now!) were heart stopping! Oh and speaking of heart stopping, to anyone who's read it - THE END OF CHAPTER 21. OH MY GOD. I nearly died.

What I love about this series is that Bartol is unashamedly happy to admit that there will be more to come. Some authors like to leave one of those cliffhangers where the book technically could be finished, but is also open to a sequel. Not with Bartol. She leaves you believing (hoping) that there is no freaking way this story is over and I am completely convinced that the next book (more Xavier, please!) will have me just as hooked!

Without a doubt my favourite in the series, 5 out of 5. Go and buy it now (well, after you've bought the first 3).

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Review - SURRENDER (The Ferryman and The Flame), Rhiannon Paille

Okay so I finished this book in about 6 hours. It helped that my internet and email was down at work for about 3 of those hours, but 6 hours none the less.

After 16% I was gushing about this book (via GoodReads), really loved it. Another few chapters and I was totally on board, riding the sweet waves of excitement that this book created. By 62% I was a full blown waterfall of shameless, over-exuberant praise, tumbling down around the pedestal on which this book sits. And oh my god, an alternate ending, too? A double whammy of final chapter glory.

The main thing that everyone needs to appreciate about this book is the writing style and how that alone can throw you straight into the world in which SURRENDER is set (think LOTR meets Sabriel - but the YA version).

Paille's descriptions are fantastic and she's so rigid with the tone of the book that its just faultless. I often find when authors try and write in a certain style that's not natural to them they tend to slip occasionally but Paille is completely consistent.

The main characters, Krishani and Kaleil, were both interesting enough to hold the story and it doesnt take very long to establish their personalities and how they fit together.

The story line is original, as is the world, the characters, the names, and to an extent, even the powers each race has. The Ferryman and the Flame are both really unique ideas and they don't take the typical 'magical powers' route.
The best part of the book for me was actually ending, both of them. You can't read SURRENDER and not need to read the rest of the series. It's not giving away any spoilers by saying that there is a huge cliffhanger at the end that'll leave you wondering how the hell Krishani and Kaleil are getting out of that one. And the alternate ending is even more exciting. (If you've read it - what the hell?!)

I have no idea how Paille is going to angle the next book, I'm still not entirely sure I know what happened at the end of this one, but I know I'll definitely be reading whatever she comes out with next. A solid 4.5/5 stars.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Review - Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

I've read so many amazing reviews about this book, and I'm such a big fan of Kagawa's Iron Fey series, that I thought I was going to be in for a real treat with The Immortal Rules.

I wouldn't say I was disappointed, that's far too strong a word, but I think I was slightly mislead by everything I'd previously read about the book and how awesome it supposedly was. I'd probably say that for the first half of the book I was right up there with the gushing masses but then Zeke and the gang came into it and it lost me.

If you've read the book you'll obviously know what I'm talking about so for those of you who haven't, let me start from the beginning. Allison/Allie is a 'street rat' living on the outskirts of a city run by vampires that offer humans a relatively peaceful life in exchange for a blood donation every now and then. (They really, really hate vampires). Out on a food run one night Allie and her gang are attacked and killed by Rabids (wild vampire type creatures). Allie is on the verge of death when a good vamp steps in and offers her immortality, she accepts on the basis that she's been a fighter all of her life and refuses to give up now.

Now, that's the very basic premise, and is also where my issue with the story begins. Allie hates vampires, and I mean, she really hates them, and as such chooses to live a life of poverty and squalor as to avoid having to give a blood donation every month. However, despite being in a situation where all of her friends are dead and she has nothing but starvation to return to, she quickly decides she'd rather be a bloodsucker than take the quick death on offer. Alright...

But I got over that when we started learning more about Kanin and also started the 'how to be a vampire 101' classes with Allie. I began thinking "Alright, this is going to be an old-school, kick-ass vampires type thing" and I was happy. The best part of the book for me was the relationship with Allie and Kanin. Kanin is very much the dark and brooding character who has little patience for Allies reluctance to sever ties with her human life. Kagawa presented a real sense of detachment between the two that you'd expect from people with Allie and Kanin's withdrawn characteristics, but at the same time you could still feel a connection there that made you wonder where the story would take them.

Then we started learning a lot more about who Kanin really was (won't give away any spoilers) and his past and I got even happier, thinking this was going to be an epic vampire free-for-all with some great battle scenes (because we know Kagawa is a pro at those), maybe a bit of romance, who knows?

But instead, Kanin was quickly removed from the story and replaced with Zeke, Jebbadiah, and the rest of the human gang who did nothing but irritate me for the rest of the book. Allie began irritating me too at this point, which I was pretty upset about because I love a no-nonsense heroin, and up until this point, she'd been pretty kick-ass.

Allie had spent the majority of her life detaching herself from her emotions to help her survive psychologically but as soon as she's a vamp, she meets a human boy and a few kids and her life principles suddenly change? I just don't understand it. When Stick rejected her she was heartbroken for all of 5 minutes but something about Zeke is enough to change her mind? I don't buy it.

The actual build up of their relationship wasn't enough for me either. There's an attempt to describe Zeke's uncertainty about his feelings for a vampire, and the same with Allie and her feelings for a human, but there's no depth to it. It was all very Twilight - I shouldn't like him, but maybe I do like him, and now it's been 2 weeks and I'm irrevocably in love with him and want to risk my life trying to help him? Not for me. (Don't get me wrong, I love Twilight, vampires AND werewolves? Score. But the instantaneous love is a downer for me.)

I really, really wanted to love The Immortal Rules, and for the first half I did, but as soon as Zeke came into it and that switch got flipped, it just went downhill really quickly. The whole 'lets find Eden' thing got annoying (28 Days Later, anyone?), Zeke's unquestioning following of Jeb got boring, and characters like Ruth always just piss me off.

For the sake of Kanin and kick-ass Allie I'm going to give it a 3/5. I'll probably read the rest of the series because I think the storyline has strong potential to be something pretty good, and also to make sure Kanin comes back in to it and Zeke stays out of it. Oh, and also because Kagawa's writing style is awesome and no-one can touch her descriptive narratives.

So yeah, overall, it was an interesting book up until the 50% mark, then it turned into a typical YA/vampire type thing. There's gonna have to be something more to book 2 to turn this around for me.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Review - The Vincent Boys/Brothers, Abbi Glines

I've just read both of these books over the last couple days so I thought it would be good to review the two of them at once and give a bit of a comparison (because one is definitely better than the other).

I don't tend to stray too far from paranormal reads because, frankly, I find most other stuff quite boring, but I loved Abbi Glines' Existence Trilogy and I've heard a lot about The Vincent Boys series so I figured, why not.

The Vincent Boys, the first book in the series, I actually really liked. I found the characters really captivating and I loved the romance between Ashton and Beau from the get go. Its a very typical 'girl loves the bad boy and bad boy loves the girl, and really isn't much of a bad boy' storyline, which is fine (and a reason I tend not to read this kind of book), but predictable, too.

I usually find the main female characters kind of sappy but Ash wasn't like this at all. There wasn't too much of the whole ' Oh my gosh, I'm such a bad person, what shall I do' blah blah. Ash doesn't want to hurt Sawyer, obviously, but that doesn't stop her running to Beau anyway which was somewhat refreshing. I got slightly irritated with all the talk of the 'good girl and bad girl' sides of Ash and how she needed to let her 'bad girl' free but her actions definitely justified it, so I'll let that go.

Overall, The Vincent Boys was quite an exciting read, Beau was a sexy character, Sawyer's sappiness more than helped aid Ash's affair, and Ash was a pretty cool chick in general.

However, the second book of the series, The Vincent Brothers, didn't do it for me at all. I was expecting more of Ash and Beau but when Lana popped up in the narrative I was immediately dubious. Lana and Sawyer are boring characters, it's as simple as that. The storyline was a bit droning too, an extended string of frustrating miscommunications and over exaggerated teen angst.

The only reason I found myself powering through this book is because I was waiting for Ash or Beau to reappear. The first book left a lot of questions unanswered about Sawyer and Beau's father and I felt this should have been much more of Beau's story than Sawyers.

Lana was such a dreary character and everything I just mentioned that I don't like in a heroin. Whiny, self concious, desperate, and just a bit pathetic all round. And all the shit she forgives Sawyer for? She's the kind of person you want to shake and scream 'snap out of it, woman!' at. Sawyers personality and actions changed far too much from the first book, to the point where he could have been a completely new character, and not a particularly likeable one.

I'm trying not to talk too much about the storylines and I don't want to give any spoilers away but I'm guessing that from the end of The Vincent Brothers there's not going to be a third book? (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong). If this is the case then the whole 'father' issue seems irrelevant to me. No questions were answered, it didn't help Sawyer and Beau's relationship and it certainly didn't aid the storyline.

Overall I'd give The Vincent Boys a 3.5/5 and The Vincent Brothers a 2.5/5, purely because Sawyer and Lana bored the hell out of me. I went into this duo with an open mind purely because I think Abbi Glines is fantastic, but unless there's more Dank Walker-esq characters, I won't be reading any more of the romance stuff.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Review - The Iron Knight, Julie Kagawa


I've finally finished Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey series, closing with the fourth and final book The Iron Knight (well, its the fourth if you're not including the novellas).

I was a bit dubious at first, as I said in my review of The Iron Queen, I'm not a huge fan of series that change narrator part way through. I just about tolerated New Moon so wasn't going in to this book with high expectations, figuring it would feel a bit disjointed.

However, I was actually really impressed. I thought I'd miss Meghan as the narrator but I really didn't. Ash, Puck, and Grimalkin were more than enough to carry this story (which makes me doubt my previous reviews) and a handful of additional characters held it together nicely.

From the very first book in the series The Iron King, it was blindingly obvious to me that we would eventually meet Ariella, and what do you know, here she is. This is the only character I really didn't wan't to appear in Ash's story because I feel she was a pointless addition. Kagawa is not going to write a whole series of books based on the relationship between Meghan and Ash then throw a spanner in the works right at the very end where Ash goes 'Oh Hey Ariella! Lets go make babies again' - No. Ash would clearly have never chosen Ariella over Meghan after all that build up, so why even bother posing the obstacle?

Again, you have to give it to Kagawa for her description in the book, and in fact, the whole series. She has a wonderful way with words and knows just the right amount of weird to include to really make you think 'God, this place is creepy'.

I loved that Meghan was still a relatively dominant character of this book, and giving her dialogue in the dream scene was a really nice idea as it felt like their relationship was kind of renewed at that point. Puck, as always, was a welcome presence in Ash's story. It was almost a little insight in to the previous relationship they had, hunting and fighting together, but at the same time still addressing the current tension between the two.

In terms of characters, the question that I did want answered was 'what the hell is Grimalkin?'. I kind of expected him to reveal himself as some bad ass deity type character but nothing ever came about, which I think is a shame. I would have proffered more focus on Grim than bringing back Ariella.

The romantic in me also wanted more of an epic reunion for Ash and Meghan at the end (and also hated Ash's fourth trial - the living the mortal life bit. Sad face for Ash), the ending felt a bit rushed to be honest and the very last paragraph really soured what could have been a great close to the series - Ariella was a main character for 1 book, and not even an interesting one at that, why close the entire series with her and Grim? But hey ho.

All of that said, I really enjoyed the story from Ash's perspective, and I loved Puck's ever annoying presence, but something just didn't quite sit right with me. I mentioned in my last review that The Iron Daughter was my favourite book in the series and I still stand by that. I felt like there was a lot of entertaining build up, for a pretty unsatisfactory and dull ending, so I'm going to give The Iron Knight a 3.5/5.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Review - The Iron Queen, Julie Kagawa

I finished reading this book last night and got that warm and fuzzy but mixed with a tinge of sadness moment when you finish a book you really enjoyed. I couldn't be bothered to write a review last night as I was shattered so I figured I'd leave it until this morning, assuming the feeling would last.

However, it didn't, so that has made me look back on the story with a renewed cynicism. I liked the book, don't get me wrong, there were a lot of improvements on The Iron King and The Iron Daughter.

The characters were definitely strong, Ash and Puck really came into their own and it was nice that they became integrated into the story as a pair, rather than individually. I enjoyed their relationship developing again just as much as I did watching Meghan and Ash becoming more of a couple.

Thinking back though, the thing that I wasn't convinced about was the actual story. There were a lot of moments where I thought 'Hmm, okay. Even in a faerie novel, I don't believe this...'.

Example number 1, Meghan has like a week of training with Ash and suddenly she's a fighter.

Example number 2, when she runs into battle on the horses and she says she's not scared. Are you kidding me? A 17 year old who's still new to the whole faerie thing and still hasn't mastered her powers is not scared of running into a war with three different races? Yeah right.

(POTENTIAL SPOILER) Example number 3, both Ash and Grim have said to Meghan that she needs to learnt to use both Summer and Iron magic together, but she says she can't do it. Then Machina tells her and she's like 'sure thing boss!' and hey presto, she's super faerie.

I know I sound ranty but I was really looking forward to this after The Iron Daughter, and while I don't think it was any worse, I definitely wouldn't say it was better. I did enjoy it though, just one or two niggles.

And the ending! Oh god the ending! I'm not usually a fan of novellas or stories for other perspectives but I'm going to have to read The Iron Knight just to get Ash out of my system I think. I gave The Iron Daughter a 4.5/5 but I think I'll drop this one to a 4/5.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Review - The Iron Daughter, Julie Kagawa

Okay, so in my review of The Iron King (The Iron fey, Book 1) I wasn't the most enthusiastic about the book, giving it a 3.5 out of 5.

The main reason it didn't quite grab me was the relationship with Meghan and Ash, it just wasn't deep enough for me - saying that, there were a lot of other things in the book that made me want to read the rest of The Iron Fey series (that, and I've heard nothing but rave reviews about it).

Ignoring the novellas, The Iron Daughter is the second book in The Iron Fey series and, in my colloquial opinion, absolutely decimates The Iron King! It's just better. Better writing, better dialogue, better storyline, better relationships. Better in every way.

I'm so glad I gave this series a chance because, halfway through book 3, The Iron Queen, it's turning into something pretty great. But anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, The Iron Daughter starts off with Meghan a prisoner by choice in the Winter court. Ash refuses to acknowledge their relationship/feelings and she's freezing all the time. I won't give away any spoilers but the action starts pretty quickly in this book and so does the development of Meghan and Ash's love.

I believed it a lot more this time around. Kagawa does a good job of presenting Ash's torn feelings of guilt and regret over Ariella's death and at the same time really makes you feel bad for Meghan as she sees that. This is what I wanted from The Iron King, more depth and more conviction to the relationship; and throw in the involvement of Puck and good lord, its a goodun. (Desperately trying not to give away spoilers).

Aside from the love triangle going on, we meet a couple of new characters, Leanansidhe and Paul probably being the most significant newbies, Ironhorse being a very significant oldie, Grimalkin sticks his tail back in, and our contagious friend Virus is back, too.

We get a little more insight into Meghans abilities and her connection to Machina and the Iron Realm. It's pretty easy to guess the outcome and therefore the premise of The Iron Queen, but if you hadn't guessed it half way through the book, a few choice words from Ironhorse will solidify it towards the end.

Overall, the mix of characters, scenery, and storyline make this much more interesting that the first book in the series. The Iron Daughter still leaves a few pretty big, unanswered questions lingering, and if they aren't enough to make you read book three, the enduring sure as hell will!

I'd give this one a 4.5/5, much more interesting than The Iron King and I'm getting the feeling the series only gets better.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Review - The Iron King, Julie Kagawa

So I'm currently reading The Iron King (The Iron Fey, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa.

I know I'm pretty behind on this, given that The Iron Fey series is now on book 6 (a couple of those being novella's) but I'd never heard of the books and they sounded like my kind of thing. Hey, better late than never.

I completely get where Kagawa is going with the storyline of these books. You have the Nevernever, a Faery world that exists as a result of human imagination, currently being destroyed/poisoned by the Iron realm, the progressive imagination of electronics and technology. The hero's need to destroy the Iron King and save the Nevernever. (In short).

The concept is actually long overdue and while I can appreciate that, something about the book didn't grip me. I think its the relationships between the main characters; there's Meghan, the half Summer fey, Puck (Robin Goodfellow), the Summer fey King's right hand man, and Ash, a Winter fey Prince.

Puck has been in love with Meghan forever but she meets Ash once or twice and decides she's in love with him. It just wasn't enough for me. The relationship between Ash and Meghan just didn't have enough substance and it feels like he is still waaaay too in love with his dead ex to really care about Meghan. It was all very 'meh'.

Puck, on the other hand, I really liked. Its a shame he disappears half way through this book because I think he and Meghan could make a pretty good pair. You also have Grimalkin, the talking cat, who is a relatively likeable character. there's something not quite trustworthy about him but ultimately he just comes across as one of those misunderstood characters who there to keep you anticipating deception.

The descriptions of the Nevernever were really great, too. Some really wacky scenarios and characters; Kagawa has a knack for making you picture an entire scene by not actually describing that much, which I like. It's enough to let you create the images without being forced to read through pages of descriptions.

Overall I did like the book, just not so much the relationships. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series as I'm intrigued to see how things change Meghan to come into her powers and also to see how the relationships will pan out. I've just started the second book, The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, Book 2), and its pretty much jumped straight into action, so it's looking good so far.

As far as The Iron King goes, I'd probably give it a 3.5/5.