Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review: Ice Forged

Ice Forged (Ascendant Kingdoms #1) by Gail Z. Martin

Title: Ice Forged
Series: Ascendant Kingdoms, #1
Author: Gail Z. Martin
Published: Orbit; 2013
592 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine "Mick" McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor's mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead...

My Thoughts:
4.5 stars

Ice Forged I was expecting some sort of epic fantasy, journey-type story with a big dash of adventure and some hot guy added in for luck. Whatever I was thinking, it couldn't have prepare me for what I got - it was so freakin' awesome!! There was sooo much more to it then I would have expected. Not only was it genuinely intriguing in its plotline, but it drew me in with the gorgeous characters, suspenseful mystery, kickass battle scenes, creative magical systems, medieval politics and mysterious vampires. It had everything, and more, than I could of possibly hoped for.

The writing was brilliant as well.
Gail Z. Martin writes with beautiful imagery that manages to stay true to the time of which the book is set, yet remain entertaining. I loved the way she could make even the icy wildness of Edgeland's Long Dark seem appealing. The way she subtly includes the lingo of the society that the characters live in is simply fantastic. It really makes you feel as if you are there, right there in Edgeland, with the characters themselves.

All of the characters were nailed perfectly. I was awed by the effortless way that the author manages to build up them up straight from the beginning of the book. I came to love every single one of them, all for different reasons. The way that every character had a rich and detailed backstory made them seem so much more alive. I also enjoyed the fact that no romance was attempted between Blaine and Kestrel. It was nice for a change to have such a close male/female friendship without any sort of sexual tension or hinted romantic connections. They were simply friends there to support each other when needed and they knew each other so well that it was touching. Their relationship was a personal favourite of mine. I have to add that I have dibs on Pirin though. He was gorgeous! I loved his and Kestrel's banter and the playful relationship between him and the other guys.

The plot was full on. There wasn't a second that something wasn't happening. Suspense and mystery filled every page. The new magical system introduced was unlike any I had read before and I was intrigued throughout the whole book to learn more about it. I was very shocked to find vampires in this sort of book, and at times it didn't really work for me. Their introduction was too rushed for my liking. I think the author was going for a bit of a shock tactic when Connor went to Penhallow's place and he bit him - thus introducing us to the vampire aspect, but I found it a little too sudden and random. Also they just didn't seem to fit into the story as well as they should have. The vampire battle scenes were exciting and action-packed though, so I can excuse the rushed introduction pretty easily.

In the end I was pleasantly surprised by
Ice Forged and will happily be looking out for the rest of the series, as well as Gail Z. Martin's other works.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Gail Z. Martin and Orbit, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: Riot

Riot by Sarah Mussi

Title: Riot
Series: none
Author: Sarah Mussi
Published: Hodder's Children; 2014*
352 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):

It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.

The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.

The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.

But it is all so blatantly unfair - the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won't.

It's time for the young to take to the streets.

My Thoughts:

Well, where to start...?

I didn't like
Riot. Not at all. I could barely follow what was happening during the book. The plot didn't seem to follow any sort of logical sequence and jumped around to random events that seem to have no significance to the last thing that happened. I barely understood the dialogue - there were so many unusual words introduced with no explanations with them. I wasn't sure if they were related to the dystopian world this is set in or if they were some sort of British slang that I am unfamiliar with.

Also I felt that there was a significance lack of explanation into the actual No More Children in Need bill, its purpose, the government's reasoning behind it (Why is it necessary?), the anti-campaigns, Hands Off, Darknet7 - everything to do with the dystopian society was disregarded in favour of the action and the romantic angle. There was not nearly enough background information into the bill for me to understand or sympathize with Tia's Hand Off campaign, I didn't quite understand what she was protesting about.

What I did get about it, I didn't like. How the heck is "snipping" going to stop overpopulation anyway? Isn't that going to rapidly reduce future generations and thus destroy the economy and everything? Look I am no political or economic student but surely that doesn't seem logical!

The characters were so bad I could cry. I have one thing to say to Tia:

What is wrong with you? No, I am serious: what really is? I don't understand how you could be so positively stupid, insensitive and just well, dumb. You barely acknowledge your friends and their help, despite the risks that they take for you. Plus for the tech head, computer geek or whatever the term you use that you supposedly are, you sure didn't seem to know much about staying off the radar. The helicopters were always tracking you.

The romantic angle that was attempted was such a lame effort that all I could do was laugh. Colbain and Tia become all "I cannot leave you" in a split second. One minute they were accidently saving each others butts and the next they are kissing and inseparable - what!? The whole damsel-in-distress act that Tia pulls was so stupid that I cannot even comment. Plus here wasn't any chemistry between them at all and it isn't slightly believable that they would get together.

Oh, I just have to say how stupid is Colbain for thinking that a girl wouldn't want to be with him because he was wrongly accused of a crime and tossed in jail. If the girl knows you weren't guilty then why is she going to hold it against you? I don't follow you logic at all.

In the end I think I was sucked in by the pretty cover. Not a good read and I wouldn't recommend it - not at all. What a shame...

Note: A copy was provided courtesy of Sarah Mussi and Hachette Children's Books, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process

*Release on the 1st of May in 2014

Friday, 21 March 2014

Review: Mind Bond

Mind Bond (The Interspecies Telepaths  #1) by Julie Haydon

Title: Mind Bond
Series: The Interspecies Telepaths, #1
Author: Julie Haydon
Published: Feather in Cap Publishing; 2013
328 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):

The year I turned sixteen, the media featured reports of a worldwide phenomenon – the emergence of Interspecies Telepaths, or ISTs."

When Christa Wilder mind-bonds with Magnus, a wolf pup, on a camping trip in Sakima National Park, her life changes forever. As the bond between Christa and Magnus grows stronger, other ISTs befriend them, including teenage Romy and her mountain lion, and Karl, a famous wildlife artist, and his golden eagle.

But not everyone is happy that ISTs exist or that wolves have been successfully reintroduced to Sakima, especially when wolves begin killing livestock on nearby ranches. Suddenly, with the first wolf hunting season about to open just beyond the park's boundaries, Magnus's pack is placed in jeopardy.

Even inside the park there is danger because a lunatic is slaughtering animals while staying one step ahead of the authorities. Next on the hit list: a wolf.

And, unbeknown to Christa, her brother, Josh, who went missing on his fifth birthday, has reappeared, but what sort of man is he? Why is he keeping his identity a secret?

Soon Christa is forced to commit to a new life full of challenges, friendships, learning, love and loss. With her psychic grandmother and her best friend, Ava, Christa will explore her spiritual beliefs, discovering a deep connection with nature and Spirit. But, most importantly, Christa will discover the sheer joy of the Mind Bond.

My Thoughts:

DNF 28%

The reason I joined Netgalley, apart from being jealous that all my fellow Goodreads friends were getting all these fabulous ARCs, was to get access to this book. I was instantly drawn to
Mind Bond not only because of its eye-catching cover and its intriguing description but because of the premise it introduced - mind-bonding with animals, wolves for that matter and there isn't anything I love more than a good wolf book. Unfortunately, this wasn't anything that it promised to be. Maybe that's because I set the bar too high and it was never going to be able to reach it but regardless, this was nothing but a disappointment.

The character of Christa bothered me to no end. Not only was she a little too headstrong for my liking she was just... well, weird. Not in a Luna Lovegood way either - not a cute, quirky, set-them-apart-from-everyone-else kind of weird. No, she was more of the peculiar weird. Christa has these visions of wolves. One time of the alphas having sex - which were a little to graphically described for my liking, just on a sidenote - and immediately believes, without a doubt, that the wolf bitch in the national parks that she camps at is pregnant. Is it just me or do most people believe that dreams are just dreams...? I most certainly don't believe everything I dream. My God if I did the most crazy-assed, random things would happen! Anyway, this was completely unbelievable and it was just plain old weird how Christa became way absolutely obsessed with the pact. Yes, we all know she is going to bond with one of the pups but I still didn't believe that it was handled right.

The actually "bonding" didn't have the correct level of emergency to it. If a wolf pup talked to me in my mind I would freak or scream or react in some sort of way. Christa was all too calm and blasé about it. It wasn't a big deal to her and it should have been. We might not know much about ISTs this far into the book but we do know that they aren't that common so she shouldn't have dismissed the notion so readily.

Her relationships with all the other characters managed to piss me off more than anything else. They are so polite to one another! I don't just mean between strangers and it isn't even in a upper-class-manners sort of way either. They speak so formally between one another, between family and to her boyfriend, her friends, her grandparents - its weird! When I am talking to people I am comfortable around I speak casually, as do most people. Christa's politeness and her goody-two-shoes-goodness only managed to annoy me. She came across as some sort of pre-made mould for the perfect child. It wasn't natural.

Overall I have to say that I struggled to make it this far into the book. Not what I expected, not what I wished for. I am disappointed to say the least.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Julie Haydon and Feather in Cap Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review: Being Hartley

Being Hartley by Allison Rushby

Title: Being Hartley
Series: none
Author: Allison Rushby
Source: Netgalley

Fifteen-year-old Thea Wallis was born to entertain. Her mother, Oscar winning actress Cassie Hartley, thinks differently and has kept her daughter out of the spotlight since day one. Coming from showbiz royalty, it hasn't been easy to go unnoticed, but mismatched surnames, a family home in Tasmania and a low-key scriptwriter father has made this possible.

Just like her cousin Rory on the hugely popular TV show Saturday Morning Dance, Thea loves to dance. She learns the show's routines off by heart each week, despite her mother's attempts to convince her that dentistry would be a far more fulfilling career choice.

However, when Rory goes off the rails in LA, Thea's mother is suddenly left with no choice at all – Rory needs them and to LA they must go. Within forty-eight hours, Thea finds herself a long way from Tasmania and living her dream – on the road to Las Vegas with the Saturday Morning Dance team.

It doesn't take long before Thea's talents are discovered and she's offered everything she's ever wanted on a plate, including the dance partner she's had a crush on forever. But, as her mother has always told her, Hollywood dreams come at a price. Thea soon realizes she will have to work out just how much she's willing to pay. And, ultimately, discover her own way to be Hartley.

My Thoughts:
Being Hartley was exactly what I expected. It had a great bunch of relatable characters, a wonderfully realistic tone and an adequate writing style, but it lacked that special quality to made it into to something more. It needed a little extra kick, a bit of oomph, a bit of punch, to make it really stand out from the other books in its genre.

The characters really were very well written. They developed satisfactorily across the book and were true to the sort of people they represented. All of them had a hidden depth that was explored at some point during the book and this allowed us to get into their heads and see everything clearly through their eyes.

My main problem with
Being Hartley was that it was too slow-paced and uneventful. It dragged on with little progress and everything was over-dramatized for the sake of it. I wasn't necessarily bored but I was waiting for something exciting to happen the whole time. The more climatic moments were taken away from us because we already knew that they were going to happen from Goodreads' description.

In the end, this was nothing more than I expected. It was light and nothing but a piece of fluff. I wouldn't be hasty to recommend it but there isn't too much I could really fault. A easy read that could have been better but wasn't too bad.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Allison Rushby and Patchwork Press through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review: A Perfect Mess

A Perfect Mess (A Perfect Secret #1) by Zoe Dawson

Title: A Perfect Mess
Series: A Perfect Secret, #1
Author: Zoe Dawson
Published: Blue Moon Creative; 2013
367 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):
I know what you did last summer.

Aubree Walker, the perfect girl most likely to succeed, is sure there’s only one person who knows what she did.

Booker Outlaw, one of the three Outlaw brothers—all identical, all gorgeous, all from the wrong side of the tracks, and all pure bad boys. He was always the unpredictable one, the one who would be brash enough to make it big self-publishing horror novels on the internet. He promised never to tell, but everyone knows you can never trust an Outlaw.

Then a year later, in the middle of the night, she receives a phone call at Tulane. Her aunt, who took her in after her mother’s death, is in a coma under suspicious circumstances. Now she has to face that one person who knows all about what she did that summer—sexy Booker.

Returning to Hope Parish to be with her aunt, stirs up all those ugly memories. When Aubree starts getting threats, she can’t help but wonder if what she did last summer was tied to her aunt’s “accident.” Afraid, she turns to the only person who knows the truth and Booker doesn’t hesitate to offer his broad shoulder for her to lean on. But Booker has a secret of his own that could crush their fledgling relationship.

As the hot, sultry summer days move on, she finds that even a perfectly smart girl can lose her heart to a perfectly bad boy. What is she going to do when someone starts asking questions Aubree doesn’t want to answer? She’s knee deep into a terribly dangerous, wholly life changing, who-can-she-really-depend-on perfect mess.

My Thoughts:

A Perfect Mess was your average New Adult contemporary read. It had a lot of the old clichés: virginal protagonist, a rough-around-the-edges "bad boy" with a deeper side, a mysterious secret that each of the love interests kept from one another which threaten to break up the relationship if they had told, but they keep it secret anyway and more. There were a lot of things that didn't work for me. Its was a little to rough and patchy for my taste but putting that aside, if New Adult is more of your thing than by all means you might want to give it a go.

The thing about these sorts of book is that they rely heavily on the fact the characters have to be relatable and real to the readers. Its no fun reading about a romance if one of the protagonists irritates you. My problem was that I found Aubree to be...? I don't know what the exact word to describe it is. Distant? Closed off? There felt like there was some sort of invisible wall blocking her from us readers. Something that stopped her from emotionally touching us or seeming as real(?) as Booker did and this let the book down.

Booker on the other hand I felt was perfectly nailed. He seem like a real guy. A bit broken, a little strange maybe and most definitely messed up but real. I much preferred getting inside his head and reading from his perspective then Aubree.

I especially enjoyed the fact that there was quite an air of mystery in this that created a thick and tense atmosphere. Unlike other books of its genre, it didn't just focus on the romance but took other directions to make sure we weren't sitting there twiddling our thumbs and hoping for something to happen. What ruined it? I guessed exactly what would happen less than 10% into the book. By chapter two.It was that obvious but its the thought that counts... I guess.

The romance still took a heavy priority though, but that wasn't an issue at all. The chemistry between Aubree and Booker was hot and led to some pretty steamy parts that I have to say I enjoyed...

There were these two major problems that irritated me and really effected my overall enjoyment of this though. They were the numerous similarities
A Perfect Mess had to the TV show Home & Away's Braxton brothers. I mean seriously? Come on! One of the brother was even named Braxston. My other qualm was the names. Look I get that its a "thing" now to call your character unusual names but Booker? Booker!? Not only is that a terrible name but he is a freakin' writer, you cannot do that. The other names? Boone and Braxston aren't even names, they are last names and Aubree is spelt Aubrey.

To end, this was your pretty average New Adult romance that wasn't abnormally bad and I can't say that I am sorry to have read it. I am definitely going to be checking out the other books in the series.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Zoe Dawson and Blue Moon Creative through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Review: Ever Shade

Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale #1) by Alexia Purdy

Title: Ever Shade
Series: A Dark Faerie Tale, #1
Author: Alexia Purdy
Published: Lyrical Lit. Publishing; 2013
306 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):

For Shade, a chance meeting with a powerful Teleen faery warrior who wields electrical currents and blue fires along his skin has her joining him on a treacherous mission for the good Seelie Faerie Court across the land of Faerie. Magic and malice abound and nothing is what it really seems to be.

The evil Unseelie Queen and her treacherous allies are round every corner as Shade makes her way across the breathtaking landscapes of the world of Faerie, which exists alongside the mundane human world. Shade discovers her own uncharted magic and meets some of the most powerful warriors in Faerie while battling evil dryads, conniving Teleen guards and challenges on her life with every step in a world where nothing can be taken for granted.

My Thoughts:

 I struggled to make it through the whole of Ever Shade and probably only did because I got this through Netgalley. My main problem was with our protagonist, Shade. She was impulsive, gullible, reckless and plain old stupid. She whined and whinged and snivelled her way through the book constantly moaning or crying or complaining. It was insufferable having to listen to it all. On top of that she made some of the absolute dumbest mistakes over the course of the book. You would think that she would learn about the first time but no, she didn't.

It started with her breaking into an abandoned warehouse and seeing some sort of weird magical battle between a "lightning" guy and a witch-like lady. You think she would've been a little scared or freaked out by what she saw but no, instead she has a two-minute conversation with the guy who tells her that he is made of lightning and can shoot the stuff out of his hand. She admits to hearing voices in her head - Yes, just like that. It isn't like anyone would think your crazy or anything!? - and he says he'll take her to an oracle. She agrees, thinking that she "might as will", and then proceeds to lets him lead her deep into a forest (where no would hear her scream) all the while her mother is anxiously waiting for her to return from school. Along the way she sees demi-fey creatures and doesn't freak out once. I'm sorry but look this isn't probable. I get that fey books aren't exactly part of the realistic fiction genre but seriously, as if we could believe any of this for a second.

I could explain for hours more about all the carefree acceptance that Shade maintains as she is, rather abruptly, introduced into the fey world. The oracle, Ilarial, then drops some pretty big bombshells about Shade's life and past that will change pretty much everything in her life and Shade just accepts it straight away. Little freaking out, little doubt, little care. She just goes along with it as if it doesn't really matter. The cries about small things. It seems as if she is always snivelling about one thing or another.

The plotline in general didn't make much sense to me at all. They were on a quest to save the Seelie Court. The whys and hows where lost on me however. Shade played an important part but I didn't quite understand why her and what did the journey to the Fountain even achieve? I didn't understand the significance of it all.

With all this negativity I was hoping that I could pinpoint some positive thing to mention and I was hoping that the writing would be that. It so much better to have a beautiful style of writing and a bad plot than bad plot and bad writing. There isn't really anything to pinpoint and criticize with
Alexia Purdy's style other than it seem to focus on rather pointless description and some of the metaphors weren't quite... right. They were a little, well, awkward. During a battle the arrows flying past their ears were described like buzzing bees. Bees? Don't bees buzz around lazily leaving little dotted aerial loops behind them? I just don't see the connection to arrows... but getting back on point. The writing just wasn't up to scratch for my liking.

What I can be positive about is the fey lore. There were numerous things in the general plot that were far from unique and borderlined clichéd but I really enjoyed the new concepts introduced such as the Teleen faeries. Also Soap made me laugh a bit.

To be real nit-picky, something that really bugged me was the amount of times that author used of the word snickered. Was it the word of the day or something when she wrote this? It is mentioned 19 times within the space of 100 pages. For some reason it really drove me insane.

Overall, this wasn't a bad book it just wasn't for me. It was a bad mix of
The Treachery of Beautiful Things and The Faerie Guardian. With some tweaks to the beginning and a personality-change for Shade this could have been so much better.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Alexia Purdy and Indie Inked through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Review: John Dreamer

John Dreamer by Elise Celine

Title: John Dreamer
Series: none
Author: Elise Celine
Published: AuthorBuzz; 2014
203 pages, kindle edition
Source: Netgalley
 Description (from Goodreads):

Andy wasn’t usually sure about much, but she was absolutely certain this was the weirdest day of her life as she stood stranded in the middle of a great white room with six strangers. Well, they were mostly strangers. She could have sworn she’d seen the guy with the green eyes before, and maybe that was why he kept staring at her.

When a man calling himself the Guardian appeared and said they had come to make their deepest dreams come true, they embark on an adventure none of them ever imagined, and the consequences of their actions would change them forever.

My Thoughts:

Well, I don't know what expected from this with its pretty cover and intriguing description but it was I was most certainly not expecting this.

When a man calling himself the Guardian appeared and said they had come to make their deepest dreams come true, they embark on an adventure none of them ever imagined, and the consequences of their actions would change them forever.

That sounds exciting doesn't it? It has such potential and intrigue but it turned into nothing more than a dull fable preaching morals of self-acceptance, love and justice... blah, blah, blah. It was dull beyond anything I have ever read in a long, long time. I couldn't get through it any faster, wanting to get it over with as soon as I could. I'll admit to a bit of skim reading in the middle where nothing was happening. I was just bored, bored, bored.

The characters were insufferable. Blabbing their sob stories to the world and generally feeling rather sorry for themselves - letting every see that they were to. Andy's backstory was left mysteriously blank in an effort to intrigue the audience and this failed to because I couldn't have cared less what oh-so-sad tale of hers was about.

The attempt at romance was simply vomit-inducing. Not only was it cheesy, lame and rather cringe-worthy lovey-dovey stuff it was the worst case of instalove I have ever read about it. Our protagonist, Andy, sees John for less than ten seconds - 8 point five seconds to be exact. She actually counted! - before deciding she was in love with him. Ridiculous! The ending was so lame that I cannot even comment.

Overall this was boring and just plain old stupid. If there is a sequel I won't be reading it. I tired to like this but I couldn't. There wasn't anything redeeming in it. I have to say I am disappointed.
 Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Elise Celine and AuthorBuzz through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.



Review: Dead Ringers | Illusion + Invertigo + The Spider

Dead Ringers (Dead Ringers #1-#3) by Darlene Gardner

The first three volumes of a haunting serial with romance, mystery and missing memories.

Dead Ringers 1: Illusion
Do you know where your time went?

Jade Greene’s memories of the two days she went missing are slowly returning, but they involve a blinding headache and an evil clown with a syringe. Not exactly the stuff of sanity.

Dead Ringers 2: Invertigo
Do you know who you can trust?

Max Harper insists Jade’s best chance to find out why she remembers so little of her abduction is to team up with him. But can she trust him?

Dead Ringers 3: The Spider
Do you know where the Black Widow is?

Someone in Midway Beach isn’t who they seem and unless Jade and Max can figure out what’s going on, they could become the next victims.

My Thoughts:

 Illusion: 2.5 stars

When I started Illusion I was expecting a somewhat thrill-bound horror story with knife-wielding clowns and creepy carnival funhouses but sadly I didn't get any of that. Well, there was a funhouse but that was about it. I have never really been that into horror before and I cannot even bring myself to watch a scary movie so this was even more of a disappointment to me. If it cannot even remotely scare a self-confessed scaredy cat (such as myself )how is this supposed to play in the big leagues with the horror buffs? The answer is that it wont.

The writing felt rushed and hastily put together. It didn't have a fluidity to it that would have made it easier to get into. The mystery wasn't paced out enough. Jade seemed to run form one point to another and it was a struggle to see how each part connected.

The general mystery wasn't intriguing enough and too much was left unexplored. This was supposed to be a thriller but that fact was lost between the Hunter-swooning and Adair-bitching. The plot didn't seem to pull together and I felt like each incident was almost isolated with no real relevance to anything else. Maybe further on everything will come together? I don't know but I sure hope so.

The characters weren't that great either. They were all a little weird and I hate how all the guys have to be described as hot and perfect - there other adjectives that can be used to describe the male race you know? Our protagonist, Jade Greene, was rather strange. I couldn't get a read on her. She was obviously scarred from the incident in February but I didn't feel that we got to explore that side of her much, or any side of her really. She was a bit bitchy and unusual for my tastes but I am hoping to warm up to her in the next book.

Overall, not a great thriller. It was a little too dull for my liking and little to slow for such a short and hastily written book. I am hoping that more will become clear in Invertigo. That was quite a cliffhanger to end on!

Invertigo: 2 stars

This review may contain spoilers to Illusion.

I am sorry to say that
Invertigo was even slower and duller than the previous Dead Ringers book. The story continues almost from the very last sentence of Illusion and didn't introduce any new concept or mystery that was catching or thrilling. It suffered rather badly from your classic Middle Book Syndrome - it felt completely pointless. A big lead up to... what?

The characters, mainly Jade, was irritable. They were all dense, moody and snappish however. Jade made a lot of really stupid mistakes but what was worse was that she knew that they were stupid mistakes as she was making them... yet kept on making them over and over again! Can you get much denser than that? She knew that she shouldn't trust Max so completely but allowed him to take her to strange, abandoned places even when she admitted he was acting suspicious.

I didn't appreciate the romantic angle that was attempted. It was rather a pathetic attempt especially the whole Max/Jade versus Adair/Hunter scenario. Isn't
Darlene Gardner supposed to be a romance author anyway?

The mystery about Max and Jade's double "missing hours" now mixing with the mystery of the dead murderer, the Black Widow, seems thin and more like a random, impulsive decision of the author's rather than a planned out set of "coincidences" like a murder mystery should be.

Overall, this series, so far, has been nothing but dull, shallow and yawn-inducing. I am not very impressed and I am holding out for a better third book to impress me.

The Spider: 2 stars.

This may contain spoilers to Illusion and Invertigo.

The Spider took a rather unexpected turn from the previous Dead Ringers books. The twist had been hinted at before but I dismissed the notion as ridiculous and didn't expect the author to wander down that path. How wrong I was.

Body-switching. The words make you think of lame sci-fi made-for-TV movies with crappy actors and special effects, doesn't it? Or possibly (at least my reader friends might), the Airhead series which I love and of which I am actually currently reading the third book. Either way, it isn't the angle that I expected to be taken in
The Spider, probably because it didn't work. Max and Jade jumped to the conclusion to easily and the way it is approached, with such a carefree this-isn't-a-big-deal attitude, made the concept seem utterly ridiculous.

The characters weren't much of an improvement. They still act irrationally and I am getting tired of Jade blindly following Max when she still doesn't trust him. Plus I don't understand their romance? Is it real or not? If it isn't, why the hell are they faking it? I don't understand the point.

Overall, this really didn't add anything to series and I am disappointed with the angle it took. I won't be picking up the other anthology. There are meant to be three more books and I am not enthused enough to pick them up.

Note: a copy was provided by Darlene Gardner through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Review: High Stakes

High Stakes (The Mediator #2) by Meg Cabot

Title: High Stakes
Series: The Mediator, #2
Author: Meg Cabot
Source: Borrowed from the library
 Description (from Goodreads):

 Suze's new life in California is pretty cool. There are the pool parties, the new friends, and the fact that "the" hottest ghost in history happens to live in her bedroom.

But when a screaming spirit appears at the end of her bed, Suze is thrown on to the trail of a murderer. All the clues lead to the freaky father of Tad Beaumont, the cutest boy in school . . . and the only guy who's ever asked Suze out. Not only is her potential beau's dad probably a killer, but he also seems be some kind of "vampire."

No one said that life as a mediator was going to be simple. But this is getting ridiculous. . .

My Thoughts:

 This was read as a part of Love You to Death & High Stakes.

I have to say that my appreciation of Meg Cabot is slowly increasing with every The Mediator book I read. There is a certain magic to her style that works perfectly for what these books are. Just like Sarah Dessen has that way for writing touching and best-selling contemporary novels and Rick Riordan has the gift for writing mythology-based fantasy, Meg Cabot has an incredible gift for writing fun, light-hearted chick-lits with feisty protagonists, book-boyfriend-worthy romantic interests and an addictive storyline.

Sure, these aren't much special and they are a pretty crappy excuse of "fantasy" but they are a lot of fun and easy to fly through. What more can you ask for really?
High Stakes wasn't quite up to the standard set in Love You to Death but it was still a great read. Suze's spunky and tell-it-as-it-is attitude coupled with her kick-ass ghost-busting skills make her one hell of a protagonist to read about. I love her! Sure she is a bit of idiot when she wants to be, well, that's more times then not but it makes for one funny ride.

What let me down in this wasn't the characters but the actual ghostly mystery. It started with a bang - or a scream, really! - but the conclusion was anticlimactic. It just didn't work me. The action was kick-ass and exciting but the ghost was shallow and thin. It didn't work for me.

To end positively, I am happy to have start this series and I am very eager to read
Mean Spirits & Young Blood next.

Review: November

November (Conspiracy 365 #11) by Gabrielle Lord

Title: November
Series: Conspiracy 365, #11
Author: Gabrielle Lord
Published: Scholastic Australia; 2010
179 pages, paperback
Source: Borrowed from the library
 Description (from Goodreads):

The 31 December deadline is fast approaching, and Cal's enemies are closing in on all sides. Even the notorious 'Toecutter' Durham has emerged from the underworld to join the hunt.

With so many answers finally imminent - meeting Eric Blair, finding out the truth about the twin baby abduction - it's crucial Cal dodges danger and stays alive. But will he be so busy trying to save himself that he'll fail to save a friend?

The clock is ticking. Any second could be his last.

My Thoughts:  
November is a hard book for me to review. This entire series is so frustrating because somehow, despite the simplistic and often dull plotlines, the gullible characters and lack of mystery-solving, they are addictive. I couldn't have stopped reading the series even if I wanted to because it leaves so much unanswered at the end of each book so that you are left simply begging for more information. You are forced to keep reading. Now I am so close to the end, so close, and I find that I am a little sad for it to be over. You might not understand since I haven't rated any of the books over three stars and they are mediocre at best but I don't want them to stop quite yet. Maybe its because I have devoted so much time to the series or something. I am not sure but there is only one more book to go!

What I enjoyed most about this one was that all of the book was devoted to progress. Cal and his friends, Winter and Boges, are dedicated to getting themselves out of this mess now - really dedicated. I think the deadline has scared them all a bit. There is only 31 days left. 31 days! There is so much to do and discover still and it has left them in a bit of a panic.

I simply loved that we are getting to see more and more of Winter as well. I simply love her character and it was great that in
November was got to learn about her past, her parents and everything that led her to her life with Sligo. Her story is much harsher than we are led to believe and it actually bought tears to my eyes. How devastating! There is a moment where Cal reflects on how much Winter has changed since they first met back in January or February. How he was once so sure she was a hardened thug doing Sligo's dirty work and how now she is one of his closest friends, a kind, funny and sensitive girl. I have to agree. I love how much she has progressed since we met her.

The plotline wasn't very action-packed in this one though but it wasn't boring by any means. I liked that it focused on wrapping things up and focused on trying to get ready for December 31st. What wasn't handled well at all was the "big revelation". Everyone picked up on that back in the first few books so how they thought it was going to be shocking baffles me but I am just thankful its out in the air... finally!

Overall, this book was one of the better one of the series, possibly my favourite. It had a strong storyline, great character progress and a fantabulous ending - which was also devastating! I need
December now. I cannot believe that the would end on such a cliffhanger. Is Gabrielle Lord trying to kill me!?

Review: Love You to Death

Love You To Death (The Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot

Title: Love You To Death
Series: The Mediator, #1
Author: Meg Cabot
This was read as a part of "Love You to Death & High Stakes (The Mediator #1-2)"
 Description (from Goodreads):

 Being a mediator doesn't exactly make Susannah Simon your typical sixteen-year-old. Her job is to ease the path for the unhappy dead to their final resting place. Not all ghouls want to be guided, but Suze is inclined to kick some serious ghost butt if she has to.

Now she's moved to California with her new stepfamily and is starting out at a brand-new school. From her first day, her mediator skills are tested to the max when Suze finds herself the target of the murderous spirit of ex-class beauty, Heather. At least she's sharing her new bedroom with Jesse, who just happens to be "the" hottest ghost in history. Suze is totally warm for his form and is determined to win the heart of the sexiest spirit in town. But can this girl get her ghost?

My Thoughts:

4 stars

 I don't know what to think of Meg Cabot at the moment. Every series of her that I have read has been so completely different from each other ranging for utter hatred (The Princess Diaries) to mediocre enjoyment (Airhead) to this: amazing!
Love You to Death was funny, cute and fun. I loved both the characters and the plotline with all its ghostly adventures. It was a little ridiculous and cheesy and really just a chick-lit hiding in the paranormal genre but I didn't care in the slightest because I enjoyed every second.

Suze was kickass. I loved that she wasn't afraid of a fight, told everything straight but still managed to come across as caring and sensitive. Unlike Mia Thermopolis from
Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries who is a whiny little princess (pun intended!), Suze didn't stop long enough to have time to whine, she was already out there exorcising some ghostly butts!

I was disappointed by the lack of Jesse-ness though. The description promises a hot guy haunting Suze's bedroom and while there is, he is seriously only in the book for about two seconds. This was not long enough! I really enjoyed his character and wanted to know more about him and how he became a ghost.

The ghost-busting was not quite up to scratch for a book that claims to be primarily ghost-busting-related but eh, it didn't really matter that much since the rest of the story kept me entertained.

Overall, while this book was a little too simplistic and ridiculous, I was surprised to find myself really enjoying it. I am eagerly going to be starting
High Stakes now.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Review: Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant #1) by Derek Landy

Title: Skulduggery Pleasant
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant, #1
Author: Derek Landy
Published: HarperCollins Publishers; 2007
371 pages, paperback
Source: Borrowed from the library
 Description (from Goodreads):

 Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he'll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That's right, they're the heroes.

Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle's most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.

So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.

My Thoughts:
Reading this book was kind of a dare. My friend (love you, Alisha!) and a guy at school struck a deal: they had to read each other’s favourite book. The guy told my friend to read Skulduggery Pleasant, as it was his favourite series. Not too enthused, because let’s face it, a skeleton detective that can use magic sounds lame and childish, she began it a little grudgingly. But she enjoyed it.

Surprised? I was too, so I decided that I had to give it a go. Boy was I shocked when I was unable to put it down! I was captivated, utterly enthralled and enraptured. I was up to one in the morning pouring over its orange-tinted pages, incapable of stopping for even a second.

The story of
Skulduggery Pleasant follows the young Stephanie as she meets Skulduggery himself at her Uncle Gordon’s funeral and from there the real adventure begins, as she is thrown into a supernatural and magical world she never knew existed.

She and Skulduggery band together to investigate her uncle’s death and along the way battle evil sorcerers, trolls and vampires, fight for revenge and, of course to save the world from a horrible end. They learn quickly the importance of friendship, who they can trust… and who will betray them all. Dramatic, right? You bet!

Witty, charming and flat-out hilarious, Skulduggery is the first character that has actually made me chuckle, giggle and really, truly and literally fall off me bed with a bellyache from laughing so hard. Where to even begin expressing how funny this guy actually is… I have never, ever laughed so hard for a character, not ever!

And when Skulduggery did have me chuckling like a lunatic, he had me on the very edge of my seat, nervously biting my nails, wondering, waiting, anticipating, screaming with the suspense of it… what is going to happen?

In the rest of the book , I was absorbed with the new magical system introduced by
Derek Landy
, the new creatures and fresh versions of your typical clichéd ones, epic and totally kick-ass battles and the beautiful quotes that kept popping up…

The world is bigger than you know, and scarier than you might imagine. The only currency worth anything is being true to yourself, and the only goal worth seeking is finding out who you truly are.

Every solution to every problem is simple. It's the distance between the two where the mystery lies.

Any negatives? Well, of course, no book is perfect… but this was close! There were two things that bugged me was a) Stephanie could have been more badass and she was a too little wise beyond her years, and b) the names having magical properties and not knowing your “true” name has been done plenty of times, so many it’s become rather clichéd. But, let’s not dwell on the negatives….

In case, you haven’t understood a single thing I have written I’ll end by saying that I loved this book. I didn’t expect to, but I did.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted but suspenseful, quirky and gripping supernatural mystery that will leave you with a stomach-ache from all the laughing, what are you doing reading this review? Go out and get a copy now! You won’t regret it, I promise!

Review: Scarlet

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #2
Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: Penguin Books; 2013
452 pages, paperback
Source: Borrowed from the library
 Description (from Goodreads):

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner . . .

My Thoughts:

 3.5 stars
This review may contain some unavoidable spoilers for Cinder

I was a little nervous about starting this since I wasn't that fond of
Cinder, but I don't know why I was nervous because I ended up really enjoying this instalment in the Lunar Chronicles. It was faster-paced with more intriguing characters and mysteries.

In this book Cinder's story is continued on from her stint in prison, but this time we also get the story of Scarlet. Scarlet lives with her grandmother on a farm in France. Her granny has gone missing though and the police have given up the search saying that there doesn't appear to be any "foul play" involved. Scarlet is determined to find her despite what the authorities say and enlists the help of a street fighter named Wolf who has a rather mysterious past.

Cinder and Scarlet's lives are connected in a way that they would never have guessed... until now. They better be ready for the shock of their lives.

I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding this book even if it was all a bit obvious for my liking. The plot was well-paced and spread out with convenient clues dropped here and there that I wished could have been better disguised - I would have liked to be in the dark at the end and shocked by the revelations, rather than have been yawning and bored.

Scarlet and Wolf's story was far better than Cinder and Thorne's. Scarlet had a lot more action and intrigue while we were simply left wondering when Cinder would catch up to Scarlet during her parts. Also - and many of the girls that I read this with agree with me - the two parallel stories of Scarlet and Cinder were so distinctively separate that I felt that they were written by two completely different authors. During Scarlet's parts the writing took on a more poetic style that flowed easily and was far more detailed, while Cinder's part was written with a casual, laid-back style that lacked detail and suspense. This didn't work for me in the slightest. It made the overall fluidity of the book disintegrate and we were left with a jerky and disconnected story.

Overall, the book in its entirety was far better than
Cinder. Scarlet's part of this worked very well and I enjoyed those bits a lot more. Cinder's parts were dull and boring, if the series had been about her the entire time I don't think I would want to move onto Cress.