Book Review: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Reckoning (Darkest Powers Trilogy #3)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, magic, werewolves, witches, ghosts
Publisher: HarperCollins; Atom
Publication Date: April 2010
Pages: 391
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
My name is Chloe Saunders. I’m fifteen, and I would love to be normal.

But normal is one thing I’m not.

For one thing, I’m having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sweet-tempered brother–who just happens to be a sorcerer–but, between you and me, I’m leaning toward the werewolf.

Not normal.

My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us–permanently.

Definitely not normal.

And finally, I’m a genetically altered necro-mancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.

As far away from normal as it gets.

My Review:

The troubled teens are still on the run from the sinister Edison Group; Chloe’s necromancy skills are getting stronger and stronger, Tori is able to perform magic that witches many times her age can’t achieve without incantations and Derek’s changes are getting more intense and more frequent. Add her romantic entanglement with both Simon AND Derek – things couldn’t get much more complicated for Chloe Saunders.

After holding up at a safe house but not feeling all that safe at the moment, Chloe has to cope with an evil teenage ghost haunting the house and a necromancer mentor who doesn’t believe Chloe’s skills. Along with the threat of the Edison Group hanging over them, the teens grow more and more suspicious of anyone and everyone until… at last – one way or another – they get to the bottom of the Lyle House mystery…

I’m always anxious when I get to the last book in a series/trilogy that I’m enjoying. I want to know just how it’s going to end but at the same time I don’t want to have to leave the characters.

Chloe has grown so much since the first book. Her powers are developing experientially and she’s come a long way from the stuttering fearful girl into the woman who overcomes her fears when it comes to protecting the ones she loves.

The other characters are great in their own ways too – I’m not sure after the first book I ever thought I could like Tori but she’s grown on me and I’m glad that the others accepted her into their merry crew of adolescent misfits.

I loved the amount of action that occurs throughout this book. There’s evil angry ghosts, get away plans, werewolves and so much more. This was a fantastic instalment in the trilogy however – I didn’t love the ending. Or rather, I didn’t like that the trilogy was ending. There’s so much more I want to know. But I did love how all the drama came to climax and the resulting resolution was fitting to the series.

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Book Review: Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Title: Infinity (Chronicles of Nick #1)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: Paranormal. urban fantasy, zombies, shifters, vampires,
Publisher: Atom 
Publication Date: May 2010
Pages: 306
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.

As if starting high school isn’t hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?

My Review:

I’m a socially awkward mandork.

Nick Gautier is considered to be a loser. Born to a mother who has to work as a stripper just to make ends meet, he’s been looked down upon by everyone he’s ever met. When his friends decide to mug an elderly tourist couple, Nick has to decide whether he wants to be the street scum that people think he is or to be the bigger man who his mother has raised him to be.

Unfortunately for him, his friends don’t take too kindly to his interference and Nick now has the gunshot wound to prove it. Enter Kyrian Hunter, tall dark and mysterious stranger who not only makes sure that Nick gets the medical attention he needs as well as paying for it and giving Nick an after school job as his assistant which pays more in a week than his mother makes in months.

But there’s something strange brewing in Nick’s school. The star-footballer just tried to take a bite out of his best friend and the coach tried to snack on the principal’s brains.

Between the zombie apocalypse at the high school and the crazy cast of characters that Nick’s been introduced since working for Kyrian, things have gotten deadly and a grounding from his mother is the least of his worries.

I enjoyed this book. Zombies aren’t something I’m all that familiar with and I did enjoy reading about just how scary they can be when they’re on mass and backing their prey into a corner. Nick is a very engaging lead character. He’s sarcastic and somewhat angry at his circumstances. He’s not always politically correct and he’s somewhat charming in spite of all this. I enjoyed his rapport with his mother – despite finding Cherise’s nagging and over the top protectiveness a little overwhelming at times.

Bubba was a very pleasant surprise. A computer tech guy who runs a gun shop and has two pieces of advice that he advocates for: “Shoot first then ask questions” and “Double tap just for good measure. Better safe than sorry“. I think his side-kick, Mark, was just as amusing. They added some much-needed humour and comic relief when the threat of zombies was getting a little too much.

In some ways this was a strange novel to read. I have prior knowledge of Nick from reading Kenyon’s Dark Hunter’s series – an adult paranormal romance series. So many of the characters were familiar faces as well as their supernatural secrets. But this book is so much more than just a prequel telling Nick’s story. It’s a chance for Nick to redeem himself and to change everything that’s happened in his other future – which I’m glad of because things were looking extremely dark for him.

I do wonder if someone with no knowledge of the adult series would be able to keep up with the whole cast of characters who are not quite they seem but you’re not quite let in on the secret of their special ‘skills’ just yet.

This is a series that I think I’ll be continuing with. IF not just for Nick but for the brief cameo appearances by Kyrian, Ash and Tabitha.

 

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Book Review: Adorkable by Sarra Manning

Title: Adorkable
Author: Sarra Manning
Genre: Contemporary, Chick Lit
Publisher: Atom 
Publication Date: May 2012
Pages: 387
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Jeane Smith is seventeen and has turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business. She writes a style column for a Japanese teen magazine and came number seven in The Guardian’s 30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing The World. And yet, in spite of the accolades, hundreds of Internet friendships and a cool boyfriend, she feels inexplicably lonely, a situation made infinitely worse when Michael Lee, the most mass-market, popular and predictably all-rounded boy at school tells Jeane of his suspicion that Jeane’s boyfriend is secretly seeing his girlfriend. Michael and Jeane have NOTHING in common – she is cool and individual; he is the golden boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. So why can’t she stop talking to him?

My Review:

I secretly love portmanteaux. From spork to staycation, liger to Brangelina – I love them all. So I was eagerly awaiting the day to get my hands on Adorkable. But it wasn’t exactly the dorky yet adorable read I was expecting from the title.

Jeane Smith is a seventeen year old entrepreneur. She has her own company, half a million twitter followers, writes articles for national newspapers and has people flying her half way around the world to hear her speak. As an emancipated minor with no one but the couple next door to make sure she’s eating well and cleaning up after herself, her flat looks like a bomb has hit it and her diet consists of sweets and take out.

Then there’s Michael Lee – ladies man, man’s man, man about town, sports star, and on the student council. Top it off, parents LOVE him.

Each is the centre of their own universe but their worlds seem to have nothing in common. Until Michael Lee brings to Jeane’s attention that her boyfriend and his girlfriend are making eyes at each other…

There were a few things that I really enjoyed about this novel. It’s quirky and at times rather fun. I did find myself laughing out loud at times (which my cat did not appreciate). But it’s been a long time since I read a book where I disliked the two main characters with a passion.

Jeane is pretentious, elitist, conceited, judgemental and just plain rude. Michael Lee isn’t much better. They’re both snarky – which I liked – and they both seem to think that they’re better than everyone else – which I didn’t like quite so much. They weren’t all bad… just mostly. I did like Jeane’s refreshingly blasé views towards sex. But for the most part her attitude towards every other person in the novel (with the exception of her sister, Bethan) started to get a little irritating. I do wonder if the reader was even supposed to like Michael Lee… especially after he described Jeane as having a pot-belly… super attractive, am I right?

By the end of the novel I could see that Jeane was evolving and changing – although it seemed to happen at a pace that was non-existent for most of the time and then a little rushed at the end – but Michael Lee remained the same as he appeared at the beginning. I was a little disappointed. I’d have liked to have seen some character growth from him. I have to admit that I don’t quite understand the Adorkable brand as Jeane intended it. I read the manifesto (and I liked it) but I felt like what she was presenting at the conference…whilst it didn’t contradict her message, it seemed like every single person who was there and (anyone who wasn’t) would have been rather insulted.

I loved how the author used social media throughout the novel – especially twitter. Jeane’s tweets were kind of perfect even when she and Michael started quoting Sartre at each other… although that shows just how pretentious the two of them are.

At time times they played the roles of teenagers perfectly but for the most part it felt like I was reading an adult chick lit story as they didn’t feel like they were only 17 and 18 years old but rather almost a decade older than that. I wonder how well this book will go down with YA readers because as a young adult novel, I’m not sure I entirely got it. But as a novel with a non-specified audience, I quite enjoyed how everything played out.

By the time I finished this book I did enjoy the story but I felt like it took a little too long to get to the end. Whilst I didn’t like the characters I did enjoy reading their interactions and adventures. And I think I’d definitely be a reader of Jeane’s blog if she was more than a fictional character – I just wouldn’t be a friend of hers.

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Book Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Summoning (Darkest Powers Trilogy #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, 
Publisher: HarperCollins; Atom
Publication Date: April 2009
Pages: 360
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl — someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I’m as far away from normal as it gets. I’m a living science experiment — not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization call the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters. I’m a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control: I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I’m running for my life with three of my supernatural friends – a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch – and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

My Review:

I think the Darkest Powers trilogy is going to go down as one of my favourite YA paranormal series.

The Awakening picks up at the exact moment that the first book in the series, The Summoning, finishes – with Chloe stuck in the institution after a somewhat failed break out attempt from Lyle House and the heartbreaking betrayal from Chloe’s aunt.

Now, with her every move being monitored by the staff and no escape routes visible, Chloe needs to deal with the ghosts that won’t leave her alone and her anxiety over Simon’s health and Derek’s “condition” whilst they are on the run. Not one to sit around and pout, Chloe – with the help of Liz’s ghost – needs finds a way to get out, find the boys and get to the bottom of what the sinister scientists are up to.

For me, this book had what The Summoning was lacking. It was exciting, fast paced and suspenseful. I picked this book up when I couldn’t sleep, vowing only to read a few chapters… next thing I knew it was 3am and I’d finished it.

I complained about Chloe coming across as a little bland in the first book but she’s completely redeemed herself in my eyes. I found that I enjoyed getting to see her embrace her ghost busting powers more and more as well as not letting anyone who was bigger and badder than her push her around.

Derek is a character that I adored after the first book and now I like him even more. He and the other supporting characters have issues and complicated pasts. It makes them somewhat real in an unreal and paranormal world. Tori, Simon and the others are an incredibly mismatched group but their bickering entertained me and I loved the fact that they were flawed and kept their grudges despite their current circumstances.

As a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, I was thrilled to read the slight crossover that occurred in this novel (Clayton’s reputation precedes him!) and makes perfect sense to the plot of this story.

This book is not one that can be read as a stand alone – there is a lot that is assumed knowledge from the first book in the series – but is a fantastic story that includes some of my favourite supernatural creatures, exciting plot and interesting characters.

I jumped online and bought the third book as soon as I finished reading….

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Book Review: Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Title: Marked (House of Night #1) 
Author: P.C and Kristin Cast
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Vampires
Publisher: Atom also St Martins. Press (an imprint of Macmillan)
Publication Date: May 2007
Pages: 306
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird’s world, vampyres have always existed.

In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire — that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.

She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny–with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

My Review:

I’d been meaning to read this book for a while. It has all the things that I’d love in a book – boarding schools, vampires, cats. What’s not to love?

If I wasn’t the type of person who HATES to give up on a book, I think I may have thrown in the towel after the first chapter. The dialogue really irked me.  But after giving Marked a chance, I got drawn into the story and I stopped noticing the things that bugged me from the first pages.

Zoey Redbird is a character that I grew to admire. She has a lot thrown at her – being a Vampyre with a special mark gifted to her directly from the goddess, Nyx; facing the reality that not all fledglings make it to adulthood; secret societies with evil cheerleader-esque leaders and the most handsome boy in school trying to get her attention. I liked how she didn’t let it all get on top of her. She managed to hold her own and stand up not just for herself but for her friends too.

That’s not to say that she does everything well. I don’t think it’s a recommended idea to imprint on your ex-boyfriend and have him follow you around like a lost and overly affectionate puppy.

The supporting cast of characters are a bit of a motley crew but I found them rather entertaining.  The Twins amused me greatly – I love the idea of physical opposites with completely different upbringings but having a similar soul. And Stevie Ray is somewhat adorable with her southern drawl and obsession with country music.

I do have a copy of Betrayed (House of Night #2) after I managed to pick it up for $2 at a second-hand book sale but I’m not sure this is a series that I’m going to stick with.

I am glad that I finished the book and I was quite enjoying myself by the end but it took me a little too long to get there.

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