Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Harper Jane Price has it all. The President of the SGA, head cheerleader and girlfriend to the most perfect boy in all of Grove Academy. However, all of that is about to change. Thanks to a run in with the janitor in the bathroom, Harper is bestowed with the powers of a Paladin. With these powers comes super strength and amazing fighting ability and the not-so-minor problem of having to protect David Stark, her archenemy since diapers.

Harper and David are both hyper-competitive, and Harper feels like he has made it his goal to destroy her life with his newspaper articles. Their bickering is intense and humorous at times, and their chemistry is undeniable.

Along with Harper and David is a cast of characters that are genuinely entertaining to read about. From Bee, Harper's best friend who would do anything for her, to David's Aunt Saylor who controls most of the town, including the cotillion that Harper has been waiting years for.

Rebel Belle is different from the typical Young Adult book in that the main character is the quintessential cheerleader, the perfect southern Belle. It's interesting to see how she tries to balance a semblance of her normal life with the new powers that are bestowed on her as a Paladin. As she and David start to piece together their new reality, more and more trouble keeps popping up and Harper begins to lose her grip on her friends and regular life.

The story was interesting and fresh, and there were a couple twists that were surprising towards the end. Some aspects of the story dragged on a little too long, and there were a few things that weren't quite as fleshed out as they should have been. But all in all, it's a great start to a trilogy that is sure to be amazing.

No word yet on when the sequel will be released.

4 Stars.
Similar Works: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, Jinx by Meg Cabot, The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade.

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Brightly Woven, a stand alone novel by Alexandra Bracken, follows Sydelle Mirabil as she embarks on a quest to stop a war from igniting across the country. Sydelle is from a small, poor village struck by a severe drought for years on end. When Wayland North shows up to town and brings the rains with him, her family promises him anything he could ask for. What Wayland needs is an assistant, someone to help him get to the capital and warn the Queen and the Sorceress Imperial that they are being duped into going to war with the wrong country.

Sydelle is less than pleased at being suddenly uprooted from her home, and North's less than forthcoming nature regarding why he chose her and exactly what all he knows about her only makes her reticence worse. Still, Wayland's magic intrigues Sydelle and she finds herself drawn into the intrigue and danger that surrounds him.

They meet up with his friend Owain, an ordinary man who longs to defend his country but has been denied countless times because he is not a wizard. Once it becomes clear that Dorwan, the man responsible for framing Auster for the King's murder, is not going to let them get to the capitol in time, North sends Owain to the Sorceress Imperial with his message. He and Sydelle travel north to the town where North apprenticed, in order to save the children there from his one-time friend.

However, Dorwan isn't their only problem. North has been keeping secrets about exactly what drew Sydelle to him, and secrets about a curse that was laid on his family and how he could use Sydelle to free him of the curse. Not to mention, the same thing that drew him to Syd is also drawing in other wizards who want to claim her for their own.

Brightly Woven is a debut novel, and as such, it is not especially well-written. The characters are kind of sloppy and the writing is awkward in places. Characters are introduced that hold no place in the story, and some situations are never resolved. Most of the situations the characters find themselves in are very cheesy and poorly timed. All of that being said, this book is still extremely enjoyable. North is a smelly, lovable character and Sydelle has moments of being an extremely strong female character. Pieces of brilliance shine through in this story, and it's wholly worth slogging through the less than stellar parts for.

Her sophomore work, The Darkest Minds trilogy, is set to wrap up in October of this year. A second, untitled series about time travel beginning with Passenger is set to release some time in 2015.

3 Stars. 
Similar Works: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, Star Crossed by Elizabeth Bunce, The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Emma and Galen’s kingdom and their love is threatened by long-lost Syrena in the brilliant conclusion to Anna Banks bestselling trilogy.

Emma, half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.

Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean and the land-dwelling, freshwater Syrena. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love but their ocean kingdoms. 
(From Goodreads)

Of Neptune is the third book in the Syrena Legacy series. I have read Of Poseidon and Of Triton and I really loved both books!

When I started Of Neptune, I really did not know what to expect. Usually when I read a series, the sequels are never as good as the first book and most of the time I end up disappointed. But that did not happen with the Syrena Legacy series by Anna Banks, I loved every single book of the series.
In this last book Emma was sent to a town, Neptune, by her grandfather, Antonis. Neptune is a town only for descendants of the General Poseidon that have decided to live on land. Not only for Syrenas, but also for half-breeds (half human, half Syrena) and some humans. Since Emma always felt out of place in the Syrena world feeling like the only one half-breed in the world, her grandfather sent her to Neptune so she could know that she wasn't alone and there was a place for her. He wanted her to know that she also had another option for life.

He didn't tell them that it was a town of Syrenas and half-breeds, though, so they didn't know what to expect when they go there.They meet a new character, Reed, another half breed. He was very cool, nice, and funny and of course he was hot. Reed had a total crush on Emma since the first time they meet.  And as one could expect, this did not make Galen happy at all. And I wasn't very happy about it either, but we'll get there soon enough.

Reed took them to meet his dad. Being a half-breed is punishable by death in the ocean world, so the half-breed descendants living on land can never go into the ocean for the fear of being found by the Syrenas. Reder asked Emma and Galen to be like a mediator or negotiator between the ocean world and the town of Neptune. But Galen was not happy with this whole entire situation. He wasn't happy with the town and he really wasn't happy with what Reder was asking them to do. To him, this whole town was breaking the Syrena law for living on land and having half-breed children. Anyway, Emma and Galen got into a fight because of this and Galen left, leaving Emma by herself at the town. This fight was mostly the cause of miscommunication, because neither of them wanted to say what they really needed to say, they did not want to hurt the other person's feelings. Every time that they said something it came out wrong, and their words were misunderstood, so they both got really mad and Galen left.

While driving away  Galen had to stop the car on the side of the roads to cool down his temper, of course he wasn't going to leave her. Once he was calm  he was about to head to the car when he was ambushed by Tyrden( yeah, our new villain)   and other two Syrenas. They took him they kidnapped him and torture him.

With Galen gone, Emma thought she was about to lose him forever. She left him tons of messages, but he never answered. Reed saw the absence of Galen as his golden opportunity to get Emma. What I did not like about this was that he was asking her all the time to chose between him and Galen. Since Galen apparently abandoned her, he was the only one there for her. But to me the way he asked to 'chose one of them' did not make sense, it wasn't like they were dating for a long time before Galen. No, he just met her and he was asking her to chose one of them? It did not feel right.

Another thing, I thought Kennedy was pointless to the book. I think that the author made that small side story with him just to fill up pages, to make the book bigger because what happened with him had nothing to do with the main problem with the story.

I wish I could have read more of Toraf, Rayna, Grom and Naila. They are all so funny and great characters. Overall, it was a very good book and had its HEA!

Great series! If you like mermaid books, then you should definitely read these!

5 Stars! 
Similar books: Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs, Forgive my Fins by Tera Lynn Childs,
Ingo by Helen Dunmore.

Note: review also in my Goodreads and Amazon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

4 Fantasy Series to Check Out

With the growing popularity of Game of Thrones, the Fantasy genre has seen a resurgence in popularity of late. Even the Young Adult market is not immune to the considerable influx of new and enticing series being released each week. With the genre being flooded by the latest offerings, it's easy to overlook some of the slightly older series and that would be a tragedy. With that in mind, here is a look at 4 series that every fan of the genre should give a chance, whose first novels were released prior to 2010.

The Healing Wars Trilogy
While the title may call to mind a different kind of shifter, The Shifter is about a magical group of people who have the power of healing people by taking away their pain. Once a Taker pulls the pain from you, they transfer the pain from that person to themselves and then into these special ores called pynvium. The Healing Wars Trilogy follows Nya, a young orphan who has discovered that her own ability as a Taker is not quite right. Instead of shifting into the pynvium, Nya can only shift the pain into another human being. This is an aberration and she fears that if The League discovers her gift they will make her do horrible things.

When the threat of war starts to threaten the lives of her people, Nya realizes she has stayed hidden in the shadows for too long and that she must rise up in order to save her sister from the Healer's League at all costs.

The second book in the trilogy, Blue Fire and the third book, Darkfall, continue on with Nya's adventures as she tries to help set things right in her city and restore order to the lives of the people that she loves. Nya must learn how to justify the use of her powers for the greater good versus what she thinks to be the right thing to do.

Dragonfly Companion Novels
As a poor goat herder on the tiny Island of Kai, Taoshira never imagined that she would be called to become one of the Princesses of the Blue Crescent Islands. The Four Princesses are all devoted in their daily rituals to the Mother Goddess and Taoshira is finally becoming more comfortable in her role as a Princess. Over on the mainland in Gerfal, the King wants to solidify an alliance between his country and the Crescent Isles with their formidable Navy. In order to ensure both sides will keep to the agreements, Tashi is engaged to the Prince of Gerfal, Ramil.

Ramil is a spoiled boy, he only cares for his own desires and is cruel to Tashi when she arrives in the strange country. Deciding to break off the engagement, the two leave on a last ride and disaster strikes. Kidnapped by a traveling circus, the two find themselves chucked into a wagon and forced on the road towards the Spearthrower’s lands. The Spearthrower has set his eyes on Gerfal, and hopes to add their land to his own ever-increasing holdings. He hopes to use Tashi and Ramil to his advantage in negotiations.

As a common enemy helps bring the two together, Ramil and Tashi must figure out a way to get back to Gerfal and put a halt to the Spearthrower’s nefarious plans. Dragonfly showcases a ton of character growth. Spoiled and selfish at the outset, Ramil must quickly learn how to maneuver through delicate situations in order to save the Princess’ life and keep his own people from becoming embroiled in a civil war. Tashi faces more adversarial forces while captured, as her entire way of life is called into question by the Spearthrower and his sister. They want Tashi to renounce her beliefs and swear allegiance to the War God. Unsure of what she believes any more, she must learn to trust Ramil and learn how to trust in herself again. 

The Glass Swallow, the companion novel to Dragonfly, features an extremely talented Glassmaker, Rain. In her Kingdom, women are not allowed to join the Glassmaker's guild, so she leaves her own country and travels to Magharna in order to pursue her dream. There she meets Peri, an untouchable who saves her life and captures her heart.

The Study Series
In Poison Study, sentenced to execution for committing murder, the one crime that is always punished by death, no matter the reason or justification, Yelena finds herself standing inside the office of the Commander’s head assassin and sneak, Valek. His offer is simple: she can become the taste tester for the Commander’s meals, or she can head to her execution as scheduled. It was the choice of a quick, painless death or the agonizing uncertainty of never knowing when a poison could kill you. For Yelena, that choice was easy. She agrees to sign on as food-tester, planning to bide her time until she could escape.

Always two steps ahead of her, Valek had her unknowingly take a poison call Butterfly’s Dust. If she doesn’t report in for the antidote every morning, she will die an extremely painful death. Odd things start to happen around Yelena and she has to wonder if she isn’t the cause of them. After being found a by a Magician from Sitia, Yelena discovers that she has a deeper power that she never knew even existed.

Before she can start to plan her escape, darker forces start to move in on Ixia, and Yelena is pulled into their web. With Valek at her side, she has to decide if she is willing to risk her life for her country or if running away to Sitia is the better option.

Poison Study is an exciting, fast-paced story that will keep you enthralled from the first page. It is full of mystery; from the reason Yelena killed the son of the man who raised her to who is plotting to over-throw the Commander, there is always something to wonder about. The characters are well-written and you will find yourself sympathizing with Yelena as she tries to piece together some semblance of a life, and falling in love with Valek as he tries to understand more about his young apprentice.

Yelena’s story continues on in Magic Study and FireStudy, all previously released. Three new novels featuring Yelena and Valek will be released starting this year with Shadow Study in January of 2015.

The Kingdom of Tortall
Saving the best for last, Tamora Pierce writes stories featuring strong women who completely kick ass in situations where women are usually told to sit down, have babies and embroider things. The first series in the Kingdom of Tortall, Song of the Lioness features Alanna of Trebond, a young woman who knew from a young age that the life that was expected of her was not the life that she was meant to lead. Urging her twin to switch places with her, she cuts her hair and heads to the Palace to learn how to be a knight. With the help of her manservant, Coram, she manages to pass detection and begins her training to become a knight of the Kingdom.

Coram isn't her only help, though. She quickly makes friends with an amazing cast of characters that are sure to delight. Jon, the prince who wants to be treated like the rest of the boys quickly becomes her closest ally. George, a dashing thief, instantly takes a liking to Alanna and her odd purple eyes. Sir Myles, one of the teachers at the palace, becomes one of her most steadfast mentors. But not all is as it seems at the palace and a sweeping sickness comes that leaves many residents of castle dead in its wake. The rumor is that it isn't a normal sickness, that a powerful sorcerer sent it in order to weaken the royal family's hold on the monarchy. Alanna has her suspicions on who is responsible, and she knows that she has to stop him before he can claim Jon's life in his next step to take over the realm.

Thus far, there are four other series set in the world of Tortall, all of them interconnected in some way. The Immortals follows Daine, a young woman cast out from her own country and forced to settle into Tortall. She has always had an affinity with animals and through the tutelage of her mentor, Numair, she is able to control her wild magic and help save the Kingdom. In Protector of the Small, Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to openly train as a Page in the palace. Much like its title would suggest,Daughter of the Lioness follows Alanna's daughter Alianne, as she is swept up into the politics of the Copper Isles and the whims of the Trickster God, Kyprioth. Legend of Beka Cooper, the most recent series released in the Tortall world, is a prequel series that follows George Cooper's ancestor Beka Cooper. Much unlike her descendent, who at one time was the head Rogue in the Court of the Thieves, Beka is training to become one of Lord Provost's dogs, the people tasked with upholding the law in Tortall.

Each of Tamora Pierce's series is full of kick ass women doing kick ass things. There is more than a hint of romance in most of the stories, and plenty of adventure and heroism. Any reader who enjoys strong women characters absolutely should not miss out on Tamora Pierce's inventions.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

The first book in the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest is a sweeping fantasy that follows the life of Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter of the seventh son and Heir to Sevenwaters. Sorcha's six brothers are extremely protective of her, and she has lived her whole life within the shield of their presence.

When a Briton soldier named Simon is brought into Sevenwaters and tortured for information about Briton troops and holdings, the tides begin to turn for Sorcha and her family. Her father takes a new wife, and Sorcha finds herself tending to Simon's wounds. He gives her a pendant he had carved for her in return for the beautiful stories that she tells.

When the wife casts an evil enchantment on Sorcha's brothers, turning them into swans, Sorcha is cast out from the place she has called home her entire life and forced into the forest. The Fair Folk see her plight and come to yher with a way to undo the enchantment. If she can fashion six shirts from a spiny plant called Starwort, one for each brother, the spell will be broken. The catch is, she must remain silent the entire time; if she speaks even a single word before the final shirt is draped over the head of her last brother, the spell will be sealed.

While surviving off the forest, tragedy strikes Sorcha again, and she is once again forced away from the new home that she had made. As she is adrift, a Briton rescues her from drowning. His name is Red, and he is desperately searching for his brother who had come to Sevenwaters several months prior. His entire regiment had been killed, but there was no sign of the boy. Red sees something in Sorcha that makes him realize she might hold the answers to his brother's disappearance, and he takes her across the sea to a land where she is loathed by his people and seen as a witch.

There she must stick to her duty, otherwise her brothers will spend their lives trapped in Swan form, only able to return to their human forms for one day, twice a year. Her stepmother's power is vast, and as it threatens to find her across the sea, Red must decide if he will be able to protect her and learn the truth about his brother once and for all.

The writing in this novel is lyrical and exceptional. Marillier crafts Sorcha's tale in such a way that it is impossible to not yearn with her and cry with her for her brothers, and for the awful task that has befallen her. Her dedication to saving her brothers is absolutely remarkable, and you will find yourself taking note of the things we take for granted in this life so much. The story is interesting commentary on the power of words and how simple some things can be once we start to connect with other people.

No man is an island, and that is never more true than of Sorcha. After losing her brothers so abruptly, she is forced into isolation in the forest for many months and forced into relying solely on herself. It is humans that put her in such danger, and humans that abused her so gravely. But it is also humans that have the power to heal her wounds and open her heart back up and to create connections with others.

Daughter of the Forest is an absolutely amazing read that should not be missed by any fan of the genre. Altogether, there are six books in the series. The second book, Son of Sevenwaters, follows Sorcha's daughter, Liadan, as she too must set out on a journey to save Sevenwaters from a looming evil. Fianne, granddaughter of the wicked sorceress who laid the curse on Sorcha's brothers in Daughter, is called to her own journey in Child of the Prophecy. Released several years after Child of the Prophecy, the next three books, Heir to Sevenwaters, Seer of Sevenwaters and Flame of Sevenwaters each follow a different woman on their own missions to save the lives of all they hold dear. 

5 Stars
Similar Books: Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn, The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick.

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
The feeling that coincidences give us tells us they mean something... But what? What do they mean?

LAURETH PEAK'S father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers - a skill at which she's remarkably talented. When he goes missing while researching coincidence for a new book, Laureth and her younger brother fly from London to New York and must unravel a series of cryptic messages to find him. The complication: Laureth is blind. Reliant on her other senses and on her brother to survive, Laureth finds that rescuing her father will take all her skill at spotting the extraordinary, and sometimes dangerous, connections in a world full of darkness.

From acclaimed storyteller Marcus Sedgwick, She Is Not Invisible is a gripping contemporary thriller threaded with unsettling coincidence and a vivid and convincing portrayal of a young woman living without sight.


When I started the book, the beginning just sucked me in! When I read about Laureth kidnapping her little brother, trying to blend into the crowd in order to not look suspicions and avoid getting caught I thought "wow this book is going to be great!"

Laureth is a blind, 16 year old girl. I thought it was pretty cool that the author made her blind, since I had never read a book before with a blind main character. Laureth's dad is a very popular author, and he would get a lot of emails from his fans every day. However, he was not good about responding to them, so Laureth took it upon herself to reply for him. She had a device that read the emails aloud for her. In one of those emails, there was a very particular one about one of her dad's notebooks that was found in New York.

However, her dad was supposed to be in Switzerland searching for material for the book he was working on, so she wondered how did the notebook end up in New York. Since her dad never traveled without letting them know where he is going, she knew there was something wrong. And after trying to reach him several times without any success, she told her mom about her suspicions of her dad being missing. But her mother's response to her concerns was not what she had expected. She said to her daughter, "I could not care less about your dad." Apparently his obsession of writing about 'coincidence' was hurting their marriage. Even still, that is not a way I was expecting her to answer her daughter. Anyway, the mom planned to go to a party to her sister's, and once she was out of the house, Laureth took her mom's credit card from her wallet, bought plane tickets for her and her little brother and traveled from England to NY. And so, together Laureth and her little brother Benjamin, embarked on a little adventure following all the clues she had pieced together to find their dad.

The book was kind of boring, but towards the end it got better. Laureth was an awesome character.  Just because she was blind did not mean she was incapable or that she could not do things by herself.  Her mother was always pushing her to do things without help because she wanted her to be independent.

Even so, in her travels to New York she still needed her brother's help for some things. The end of the book wasn't what I was expecting. All this mystery about her dad's disappearance made me think that there was something bigger going on. It was a little bit of let down. I still enjoyed toward the end, and I liked the writing style a lot.

It is a small book, it is a fast read, and if you are a fast reader you'll be done with it in a day!

3 Stars
Similar Books: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno, The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals--well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

This book is about the teenaged descendents of Greek gods. There are the pure-blood kids and the half-blood kids. Pure-blood kids are always considered to be much better than the half-blood kids. Alex is a half blood, and a little rebel, who fell in love with with Aiden, a pure-blood, which is forbidden. If a half-blood cannot make it as a sentinel, they are sent to live as slaves with no freedoms and the harshness of their Pure-blood masters.

I read this a long time ago, and I really did not care too much about it, and there is a reason for it: This book sounded a lot like Vampire Academy! Mostly the first part of the book and I can admit the other half when Seth showed up to the story was good. I felt like the author had no originality or her unique ideas to write her own story.

Here is a list of the similarities and situations that reminded me of Vampire Academy:
Half-bloods = Damphir
Pure-bloods = Morois
Daimons = Strigoi. (They turn pure/half blood/moroi into daimons/strigoi)

Alex = Rose
Aiden = Dimitri (Dimka is way cooler and hotter!)
Deacon = Adrian (both alcoholic, too.)
Caleb = Mason
Lea = Mia (parents of both girls were killed in a daimon/strigoi attack.)
There is no Lissa in this book. (well, I could say that Seth would be some kind of Lissa)

Page 84
Aidan (Dimitri) Also reads!!!! He is reading while he makes Alex (Rose) train.
Same as in the Vampire Academy training scenes. 

"I'm sure I could kill someone I once knew." Alex ( Rose)
Aiden's(Dimitri) lips pursed and he looked away. "It's hard when it 's someone you knew."
"Have you ever fought one you knew before they went all dark side?"

I swallowed. "Did you...?"
"Yes. It wasn't easy."

It reminds me of the conversation Roza and Dimka had in the van.

Page 94

Killing a Pure in any situation would get you executed, even if he was trying to cut your head off.

Page 98

 Deacon(Adrian) "I got bored on the main island. All the pomp and circumstance is enough to drive a man sober."
"We can't have that." I took in the red around his eyes. "are you ever sober?"
Alex ( Rose)
"Not if I can help it. Things are... easier this way." Deacon ( Adrian)
Adrian in Vampire academy used to drink too , to make things easier for him

Page 135

When Pures (Morois) were turned into Daimons (Strigoi), they didn't care about anything from their previous lives.

The characters are very likable anyway, perhaps it has to do with the fact that they have nearly identical personalities to the characters of Vampire Academy. Then this character showed up, Seth, I think his presence is what made the book take a different direction and leave Vampire Academy behind. Actually, I thought he was pretty awesome, I really liked him a lot. He has some kind of connection with Alex, as if they are linked to each other, it was kind of like the bond with Lisa and Rose. It is not a boring book, it will keep you entertained , the problem I had with it is that it seemed as if I was reading Vampire Academy again.

All five books in the Covenant series have been published: Pure, Deity, Apollyon and Sentinel. The first book in a spin-off series featuring Seth, The Return, is set for release in February of 2015.

3 Stars
Similar Books: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep, Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.