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Bargains and Betrayals – Shannon Delany

12 Oct

So, you know when you’re reading a series and you’re thinking “Okay, not blowing me away, but not horrible either. Think I’ll keep going.”? I have to admit, that’s where I was with Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life Series, published by St Martin’s Press. If you read my review of the first two books then you know I had some issues with both of them.  But man, I frigging LOVED Bargains and Betrayals. I mean it. The issues I had with the first two books vanished. This was a kick ass, well written YA paranormal book.

The main issue I had with the first two books (don’t read any further if you haven’t read them) was the whole Pietr dating Sarah but smooching Jessie all the time story-line. I felt that it just didn’t groove with either Jessie or Pietr’s personality. I’m so beyond happy that that was taken care of at the end of the second book.

I also felt that the pacing was a heck of a lot more even in this book. Never once did I feel that things were happening way to face. Yes, things happened quickly, but it felt like it was the right speed.

I loved that the book switched from Jessie’s point of view to Alexi’s point of view. It really, for me, showed off Shannon’s mad writing skillz. Alexi’s sections were written so differently from Jessie’s, something that’s hard to do. But Shannon does it flawlessly. Never once did I get confused about whose section I was reading.

A lot of the mystery that’s introduced in the first two books is explained, but in no way are things wrapped up nicely. I mean, Holy cliffhanger. It left me yelling “Nooooo, I need to know moooooore!”

So, yeah, sometimes when you aren’t in love with a series, it pays to stick with it. Because I so can’t wait for the next book to come out.

Secrets and Shadows – Shannon Delany

10 Oct

I wanted to love this book. But I didn’t. I liked it, though. For the most part. But, there were things in Secrets and Shadows that just made me kinda unhappy. If you haven’t read the first book but plan to, then read no further. I’m about to get a bit spoilerish on ya.

I really, REALLY had issues with the whole Sarah-Pietr-Jessie story line. To the point that I almost didn’t finish the book. I guess I just didn’t get it. Jessie said Pietr had to stay with Sarah as a favour to Jessie. But they still snuck around for a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. I thought it was mean. And childish. So, yeah, I really, really didn’t like this aspect of the book.

I also felt that the middle of the book was a bit of an info dump. There was A LOT of stuff thrown at readers and for me it just put the pacing of the book way, way off. Sure, it was information that we needed to know, but the quantity that was unleashed in a few chapters left me feeling unbalanced.

But the ending! Wow did it ever draw me in. A bit of a cliffhanger, as soon as I finished I immediately wanted to start the next book, Bargains and Betrayals. Which I did. So in the end, I’d have to recommend this book, especially after finishing the next one. (review to come tomorrow)

Thanks so much to St. Martins Press for the review copies.

Forever – Maggie Stiefvater

13 Sep

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the first two books in this series. I LOVE THEM and recommend them to everyone ( have you read Shiver and Linger yet? No? Why the heck not? READ THEM!!!!!!) so of course it makes sense that I’ve love Forever, the third and final book in Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series. And while I loved it, yes, I didn’t love it as much as I loved Shiver and Linger.

Now before you all yell “WHAT? HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE IT AS MUCH AS THE FIRST TWO????” Let me explain. It was totally, 100% a case of  “It’s me, not you.”

I think because I was so enamored of the first two books that I held back a bit when reading Forever. I know, weird, eh? But that’s me. I knew I was going to be upset and devastated that the series was over. I loved these characters and I knew that regardless of how the series ended, I’d want more. So, to stop a major depression where all I did was sit around, mumble “Cole, Sam” and eat chocolate by the pound, I didn’t allow myself to open up  100% to the story.

Okay, now that’ I’ve explained myself, let’s chat about the book, kk? Despite my above ramble, I did love it. Maggie just has a way with words that makes my heart melt and my breath catch in my throat. I’m usually not one for flowery descriptions (totally not meant as a bad thing guys) but Maggie’s prose, totally and completely beautiful, sucked me right in.

While I enjoyed the Grace/Sam storyline, it was the Isabel/Cole parts of the book and their relationship that did me in. There are both so imperfect and so damaged and so perfect for each other that I found myself really wanting more of them and more FOR them. I honestly think my version of Heaven is Isabel and Cole getting there own series.

When Forever ended (kinda abruptly, my only complaint) I found that it was Isabel and Cole that I was curious about. And it was them that I knew I was really going to miss the most. They truly came into their own in this book.

Forever was a great ending to an amazing trilogy. I think fans are going to be very happy with it. I know I was.

I may have yelled out I LOVE YOU SCHOLASTIC CANADA!!! when the review ARC landed in my mailbox. :)

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

2 May

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Released: Oct 12th, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal
Bought for Coco by Kobo.

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

From Henry Holt & Co. website.

I have a confession to make: I bought this book based solely on the title. I had no idea what it was about. I knew it was YA and I figured it was a paranormal, but besides that I knew nada. Except that it had the coolest, funniest, geekiest title I’d seen in a while.

This was a fun read. Each chapter was titled with a song title, which was super cool. I loved the necromancer angle and there’s some funny shit that happens.

While I enjoyed Sam, there are a couple of other characters that stole the show for me. Sam’s friend Brooke is hilarious and for reasons I can’t really say, but trust me. She has some of the best lines in the book. And Ashley the ghost? OMG I loved her.

I think any one who enjoys their YA paranormal fare with a bit of tongue in cheek and lightness will enjoy Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. I believe there’s a second book coming out. There better be a second book coming out. Cuz this was too good to be a stand-alone book.

Red Glove by Holly Black

22 Apr

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Released: April 5th, 2011
Genre: YA paranormal
For review from publisher.

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

From Simon and Schuster website.

Mghdfft  hgfdtres  kdmskff!!!!

What, you didn’t understand that? Sorry. I was just eating my words. Enjoying some crow. Having a slice of humble pie. See, I didn’t like Holly Black’s White Cat AT ALL. It got a kinda snarky review from me. Then the second book in her Curse Workers’ series, Red Glove landed as a surprise on my doorstep. I figured, meh I’d at least give it a go. And I did. And I finished it. And I loved it. And now I feel a bit like an ass.

I don’t know, maybe I was in a bad head space when I read the first book. Or maybe the second book is just a lot better. Either way, I was totally surprised by how engaging and addictive Red Glove was. From the opening pages I was drawn into Cassel’s world. Black did an excellent job of making a somewhat dodgey guy likable.  Cass isn’t very moral and doesn’t always walk on the right side of law and society, but he’s not a bad guy compared to some of the other characters that we meet. And he’s struggling to be a better guy, he is. It’s just that sometimes it’s easier not to be.

I really enjoyed the whole whodunnit aspect of the plot and I thought it was great that even though there are good guys and bad guys, things aren’t always black and white. Everything tends to be shades of gray and that makes it really hard for the characters to even know if what they are doing is the right thing or not.

If you like your YA paranormal gritty and dark and just a bit dangerous, then you should like Red Glove.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more pie to eat.

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

30 Mar

Publisher: Random House Canada
Released: April 5, 2011
Genre: YA paranormal/urban fantasy
For review from publisher.

Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students — for every grade from kindergarten to twelve. Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya’s determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya’s home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret — and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

From Random House Canada website.


 

Oh Kelley, how could you? How could you introduce me to an amazing character like Maya, create such a great story complete with mystery, danger and wildlife, give me a taste and then hang me over a cliff? What’s next? Are you going to give me the world’s best chocolate cheesecake, let me lick the fork and tell me that I have to wait A FREAKING YEAR before I can have more?

Here’s a reenactment of me finishing The Gathering:

“What? That’s the end? No, it CAN’T be. Maybe this ARC is faulty.”

Gets up and checks other ARCS that are for the giveaway.

“AAAAAAARGH!!!!! That IS the ending. I have to wait a year to find out what happens?”

Arms raised to the sky.

“Damn you, Kelley Armstrong! Damn you!”

Face plant flop on the bed where I stay for an hour.

Kelley’s my favorite author. Never once have I read one of her books and thought, “Meh, that was kinda ok.” I’ve loved everything she’s ever written and The Gathering is no different as you can tell from my above spazz out.

I do animal rehab in my offline life, so I  instantly felt a bond with Maya who takes care of all sorts of animals in The Gathering. I actually ended up reading some of the animal rehab related passages to the hubs, since he has yet to read a book by Kelley. (This will change soon: divorce has been threatened.)

I’m such a dork that anytime there was a reference to Kelley’s Darkest Power Trilogy or her Women of the Otherworld series, I couldn’t help but stab at the page with my finger and giggle like a twit. At the same time I love that this could be the first Armstrong that you pick up and you wouldn’t be lost.

I’m not really sure what else to say about The Gathering without just gushing some more. As always the writing was tight and solid and the storyline was amazing. In true Kelley fashion there were more questions than answers. But,I’m sure that those questions will be answered in the next two books.  Now to patiently wait out the year until the next one is released.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: damn you, Kelley Armstrong, damn you. :P

Mini Review: Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn

10 Feb

Publisher: Tor Books
Released: June 29, 2010
Genre: Adult urban fantasy
Bought.

Kitty Norville, Alpha werewolf and host of The Midnight Hour, a radio call-in show, is contacted by a friend at the NIH’s Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology. Three Army soldiers recently returned from the war in Afghanistan are being held at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. They’re killer werewolves—and post traumatic stress has left them unable to control their shape-shifting and unable to interact with people. Kitty agrees to see them, hoping to help by bringing them into her pack.

Meanwhile, Kitty gets sued for libel by CEO Harold Franklin after featuring Speedy Mart–his nationwide chain of 24-hour convenience stores with a reputation for attracting supernatural unpleasantness–on her show.

Very bad weather is on the horizon.

From Tor Books website.

I love this series. In fact, I’d have to say it was one of my fave adult urban fantasy series. Kitty is just a kick-ass heroine. Even though she’s been alpha for some time now, she still worries about whether or not she’s capable of doing the job.

These books never disappoint me. Ever. I know I can always count on Vaughn to give me an action-packed, well thought out urban fantasy novel, and Kitty Goes to War is no different.

I loved how the two main plots – the war vets and the Speedy Mart case – balance each other out nicely. While the Speedy Mart plot was serious, it was much lighter than the post-traumatic soldier werewolves. Oh, and can I just say how much I LOVE having Cormac back in the thick of things? And the fact that he’s been dealing with his own supernatural stuff was a great twist and should play out nicely in the next few books.

Kitty Goes to War was just a great all around read and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out.

Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

31 Jan

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: June, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal, romance
Gifted from the wonder Bella.

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…

From St. Martin’s Press website.

*This review is slightly spoilerish*

While it may seem like I drool over every YA book out there, it’s not true. Honestly. Each year there are actually only a hand-full of YA books that I must read or I’ll die a slow, painful, whinny death. Well, not really but that’s what it feels like. 13 to Life was one of those books that I desperately wanted to read. When Bella from Bella’s Bookshelf sent it to me as part of a book swap I was uber-excited. There may have been some screaming.

Any-hoo I pretty much instantly dug into it and I wasn’t really disappointed. Sure, there were a couple of things that niggled at me a bit, but they weren’t monstrous enough to make me not enjoy the book.

I loved the mystery surrounding the Rusakova family. Who were they? What was their story, really? From the moment we meet Pietr, it’s obvious the boy is hiding some deep, dark secret. And then we meet the rest of the clan, and, well, things get even more secretive.

Jessie was a solid female lead, but, well, she does some things that just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and seemed a bit mean. And here’s where the spoilery stuff comes in, so if you haven’t read the book you may not want to read the rest of the review.

Jessie likes Pietr. Pietr likes Jessie. But Jessie’s best friend Sarah also likes Pietr. So Jessie says she’s stepping back and tells Pietr to date Sarah even though he wants to date Jessie. He does. But then he spends the rest of the book sneaking kisses with Jessie and spending as much time with her as possible. Not really a nice thing to do to a friend. I mean, if you say you’re going to step back, then step back! I really liked Jessie and Pietr as a couple but I was put off by this weird love-triangle. The reason Jessie does this is explained, but I just didn’t think it was a strong enough explanation.

I also found the pacing a bit off at places. Things happened quickly and emotions and feelings changed in the blink of an eye. And before anyone says anything, I know teens can be moody little beasts, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I found at certain parts of the novel (like the Homecoming dance) that it went from crying to laughing to angry back to crying way too fast for me to feel vested in any of it.

With that being said, I really, really enjoyed 13 to Life. The plot and, like I said, the mystery of the story kept my attention. In fact, I stayed up until 4 am finishing the book in one sitting. It ended in a major cliff hanger and even though I’m on a bit of a book buying ban, I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel, Secrets and Shadows, when it comes out in February.

Oh, and I in case you aren’t quite sure how much I liked this book, I’m also part of the MAX-imum Exposure Tour. On February 1tth, I’ll get the chance to interview Max, Pietr’s older brother. Tres cool.

Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

26 Oct

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: October,2010
Genre: YA  fantasy, urban fantasy
One sentence summary: Disney gone bad, but in a good, good way
Review copy from publisher.

Henry Whelp is a big bad wolf—or will be,someday. The only son of the infamous Red Riding Hood Killer, Henry is worried that he may be following in his father’s violent footsteps. He tries to distance himself from his past, and avoids the other teens at St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth, a detention centre in Dust City—a rundown, gritty metropolis known for its production of fairydust. But when Henry’s psychiatrist turns up dead, Henry finds himself on a trail of clues that may lead to proof of his father’s innocence—and the horrifying secret behind fairydust.

From Penguin Canada website.

 

Holy shit Dust City is all kinds of twisted. And I liked it! I mean, first of all, this book is gritty and dirty and violent and oh-so much FUN! I read a lot of urban fantasy and I love when I stumble across one that really knocks my socks off, you know?  This one was very different from the usual YA urban fantasy that I read.

I’m not going to go into the plot or the characters, which sounds kinda funny for a review, but there are so many surprises and wonderful “a-ha!” moments throughout  Dust City that I don’t want to ruin it for you guys. Part of the appeal and fun of the book was figuring out who characters where, what they were up to.

I loved the writing style of this book and I think that it fit in perfectly with the gritty story-line. I haven’t read a lot of old fashioned  murder mysteries, but that’s kinda what the writing reminded me of.  You know, the whole “a dame walks into my office” kinda deal. And I guess that’s another reason why this was such a  cool, unique book: it had both an urban and an old school feel to it.

So, yeah, I have all kinds of love for this book. Really. I think anyone who enjoys fantasy, urban fantasy, murder mysteries or just a well told tale will dig Dust City.

 

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

8 Oct

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Release year:2010
Genre: YA  paranormal
One sentence summary: Girls just wanna have paranormal fun (oh, and save the world, too)
Rating:5 out of 5
Purchased for KoKo my Kobo ereader

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

From HarperCollins Canada website.

 

This review is going to be full of the gushing. I can’t help it. I am so in love with this book that I want to stand on a mountain and sing about it. I want to hold up a ghetto blaster and blare Peter Gabriel.  I want to change from the nerd I am into a cheap tramp to get its attention. Yes, folks, that’s how much I love this book.

I had heard great things about Paranormalcy, but I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was a paranormal YA book and by the cover I figured I was in for another epic, sweeping, oh-so-serious tale of struggling love and Big Danger. After I read the first, oh, three sentences I knew that I was in for a treat.

This book was FUNNY. And cute. Evie is such a fun, sarcastic character that I loved her instantly. Really, you can’t help but root for her. She’s been dealt a pretty crappy hand, but she does her best to rise about it. And – this is the part that made me squee all over the place – she does it without the usual “woe-is-me” dramatics that a lot of other paranormal heroines get caught up in. When she comes across an obstacle she doesn’t crumble on her bed or bitch and moan through three chapters. Nope, she tries to find a way around the obstacle. Or through it.  Don’t get me wrong, serious stuff happens and she does have moments of self-doubt and she does cry. But there is so much more to Evie than the distraught heroine.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am getting a bit tired of love triangles in YA. And also the whole love at first sight soul-matey thing that can be great when done well, but is a bit over done right now in my opinion. There is boy stuff in Paranormalcy. Evie likes a boy. She isn’t sure if that boy likes her back. There’s flirting, their friendship, their uncertainty. In other words it’s a pretty normal teen-age relationship. Evie’s relationship with Lend the shape shifter is, perhaps, the best written boy-girl-are-they-friends-or-more relationship I have read in a paranormal YA book in a Hell of a long time.

Despite the humorous, light moments, this book wasn’t all fluff. There’s serious stuff that happens and some pretty cool supernatural folks to boot. The bad guys are beyond bad, and you aren’t always sure who they are. There are twists and turns a-plenty and White kept me guessing until pretty much the end of Paranormalcy and then I howled and shook my fists angrily at the gods because the book was over. But then I discovered there’s a sequel and I called down. A bit, anyway.

I think everyone should read this book, especially if you’re a fave of YA or urban fantasy or paranormal stuff.

I’m off to write my love sonnet to Paranormalcy. Catch ya all later. :P

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