Book Review: Infinity by Sedona Venez

Title: Infinity (Valkyries: Soaring Raven #1)
Author: Sedona Venez
Genre: New Adult, paranormal romance,
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: January 2013
Pages: 220
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Infinity discovers a dark secret from her past that rocks everything she knows to be true.

A troubled 22-year-old superstar singer, Infinity has a bad reputation for drugs and hard partying. Now, she is on the road to a comeback with her controversial tour. But everything about doing the concert feels wrong from missing employees, to anonymous threats about ruining her career. She is dealing with a powerful corporation that is determined to kill her and everyone she loves. She is also battling for control of her life and career from a relationship that crossed the fine line between love and obsession. Infinity knows too much, even though she doesn’t realize it. Secrets have been kept and these secrets are powerful enough to destroy her and everyone she loves.

Now she must put her safety and trust in the hands of sexy, tattooed and delicious Torch Channing and Boulder Vigari, hired to keep her from getting killed. Boulder wants to make her his. He won’t stop until he claims her. Torch struggles with his primal need to possess her and his hatred of everything she represents.

Infinity is determined to protect her heart while dealing with the pressure of pulling off another successful tour without spiraling into another mental meltdown.

My Review:

Immortal beings controlling the lives and fates of humans. Add in the idea of true mates and an assortment of crazy and awesome different types of paranormal beings. This book conceptually is one that I could really see my self getting into. However there was something lacking in the execution.

For the first quarter of the novel no action occurs. There’s two different conversations which tell the reader a lot about what’s happening in the world where the Collective (an organization made up of Shifters and Vampires) control the rich and poor alike though a new drug. A pharmaceutical they developed keeps the unfortunate and downtrodden healthy whilst giving the wealthy a pleasant buzz. It’s such a cool idea that Venez has created. But there were times when it was just too much information and not enough action. Other times everything happened so quickly and out of the blue that I felt a little left behind.

Infinity plays the over-indulged pop star exceptionally well however she lacks any real depth. And the fact that every male character in the story wants to be the one to claim her virginity – it felt a little over the top.

This book didn’t feel like a New Adult novel to me – with the copious swearing and sexual references – it felt more like an adult paranormal fantasy novel. I have come to expect some kind of coming of age or at least have the lead to grow emotionally throughout the story in a NA novel but with all the drama in Infinity occurring over a few days and the novel ending on a cliff-hanger – there’s no much room for growth or resolutions of any kind.

There’s a lot of potential in this story and the world in which it’s set but I just couldn’t get into it.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon


Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection (The Selection #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: dystopia, fantasy, romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1st June 2012
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…

It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s love.

Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.

Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret — one which could throw the whole competition… and change her life forever.

My Review:

From the blurb, The Selection sounds like a dystopian version of the show, The Bachelor. Thirty-five girls all attempting to snag the Prince and have their very own happily ever after – fairy tale style. Some token nice girls and a mean, conniving few just to scheme and mix it up a little. That’s the reason I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. It’s my guilty pleasure. I love the Bachelor. I’ve watched every episode from every season, every episode of the Bachelorette and all seasons of the somewhat ridiculous spin-off  Bachelor Pad. It’s a secret of mine that I tape every episode and then curl up in front of the TV and watch the drama unfold.

And whilst this book was just like a season of my beloved show with a few small dystopian elements thrown in for good measure, it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. I feel a little contrary for saying this but it was exactly what I expected and that’s why I was disappointed. I wanted more. More twists, more of the dystopian world Cass created and more of the other girls who made up the Selection.

In terms of characters, America is a textbook Mary-Sue. She’s so beautiful, such an amazing singer, so brave and (despite a slightly aggressive meet-cute with Maxim) is practically perfect in every way. Even her name. America, it felt to me like Cass was trying too hard to make us love America – to dislike her would almost be unpatriotic. But as a person, America didn’t always make sense to me. She’s so giving and generous to her family and yet she jumps at the first chance she has to take half of her income away from them despite telling us often that they are next to starvation. It felt a little hypocritical considering some of the things she says about her brother. I think I would have found her to be a more likeable character had she had more insight to her own behaviour and motives towards others. She’s just a little too perfect and lacks a certain depth.

The rest of the girls who make the Selection for Maxim to choose his future bride are an interesting lot – Marlee is as sweet as Celeste is ambitious. I liked the mix of girls included but would have liked to have seen more of them and their interactions with Maxim. Whilst this book is told in the first person narrative from America’s perspective, it would have been interesting to have seen Maxim’s dates with others though stories being told by the girls to America. There’s not enough gossip!

The idea of the numbers representing ones station in society and the rewards/disadvantages that went along with ones number was a captivating concept. I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between America’s life as a 5 and then living in the lap of luxury.

Plot wise, this is a fairly predictable novel but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s a love triangle that’s only just getting started, beautiful gowns and a trio of maids that reminded me of a Disney Princess’ animal sidekicks in the most delightful way. Will I be reading The Elite (The Selection #2)? Absolutely. Whilst I may have had some issues with this first book in the series, I admit that I’m hooked to the drama, the cattiness and I can’t wait to see happen next in this not-quite-fairytale romance.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Depository 


Book Review: A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

Title: A Shade of Vampire
Author: Bella Forrest
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, magic
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: 14 December 2012
Pages: 147 pages
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
On the evening of Sofia Claremont’s seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.
A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.
She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.
Sofia’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.
Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.
Will she succeed? …or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

My Review:

Told through switching point of views from Sofia Claremont and Derek Novak, A Shade of Vampire, is an interesting novel. Vampires steal teenage humans to either to do manual labour or to join their harems. They live in the trees of a redwood forest where magic causes the sun never to shine. On Sofia’s seventeenth birthday, she’s kidnapped and told she is to be a gift for Derek Novak – a vampire prince who has been in a be-spelled sleep for the past few hundred years. (Best. Birthday. Ever…)

I thought this book had a lot of promise but it just missed the mark on a few things. It’s short – only 147 pages – and it would have benefited with having things being described in more detail, relationships fleshed out a bit and more action occurring.  I loved the premise but I felt like we were being told things rather than being shown. A lot of the information was divulged though dialogue rather than being shown though observations and alike.

Sofia is a strong character who was a little too perfect (I can’t believe how well she managed to deal with her ordeal) however I thought her interactions with Derek were adorable – I absolutely loved his technology training.

A Shade of Vampire is a quick read with some fantastic ideas. There’s a brooding hero, a strong heroine, evil villains and a new and exciting setting.

Thanks to YA Blogosphere for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge


Book Review: Secrets and Lies by Ella Monroe

Title: Secrets and Lie (Capital Girls #2)
Author: Ella Monroe
Genre: contemporary, romance, chick lit
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: November 
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Jealousy, rivalry, and dark secrets threaten to tear the girls apart in this sizzling follow-up to Capital Girls

It’s the start of senior year, and Excelsior Prep is on Code 3 lockdown. Secret Service agents swarm the halls searching for the First Son’s girlfriend, Jackie Whitman. Outside a SWAT team hunts for the man who’s been threatening the First Family for weeks. Only this time he’s singled out Jackie, leaving a menacing message on the school’s voicemail. Jackie’s safe for now, but for the Capital Girls—three privileged kids who live in a political fishbowl in the nation’s capital—every day is filled with tension and thrills. Though, even for them, a raid on the school by AK-47-toting marksmen is a standout.
And a stalker isn’t Jackie’s only problem.  Still shattered by the shocking news that Andrew cheated on her with Taylor the night Taylor died, Jackie’s whole world has fallen apart.  Not only did the love of her life betray her, so did her best friend and idol.  What made Taylor do it? Who was she really?  On top of it all, Whitney Remick is plotting to take Taylor’s place, and Jackie will do anything to stop her.

My Review:

Secrets and Lies is the perfect title for this book – there’s not a character that’s not lying and carrying secrets around with them. After the accident in the end of the first novel, Capital Girls, Lettie, Laura Beth and Jackie are all trying to come to terms with the loss of their friend. But the drama doesn’t stop there. Several kidnapping threats have been made regarding Jackie, Lettie’s facing deportation and Laura Beth still has Whitney on her tail causing trouble wherever she goes.

This book has a Gossip Girl vibe to it but instead of just the social politics there’s a Capital Hill flavour to it all. I thought the characters were mostly well written and interesting but I didn’t really feel like I connected with any of them. They’re all a little selfish and well… a little bitchy if I’m being completely honest. They all get preoccupied with their own drama that they aren’t all that supportive of their friends but they’re the first to recognize the shortcomings in others. Mean Girl Whitney was probably my favourite but that’s mostly because she knows how awful she is and makes no apologizes for her behaviour.

I liked the time frame in which Secrets and Lies took place – roughly a six month period – with different stories having time to develop. I did feel a little dissatisfied with the plot in terms of action. I thought the first couple of chapters were more dramatic than the ending and I felt a little let down by that.

The supporting characters – boyfriends and mothers – were an interesting touch. For the most part the boyfriends are shown in a negative light. There’s a cheater, a suspected cheater, a stoner who’s father’s political connections are what get him out of trouble and a very angry young man who’s convinced that one of the other boyfriends is a murderer… Like I said, interesting. I felt like more could have been explored with each of them. And the mothers are fascinating in their own way.

If teen series that deal with the social politics of high school along with healthy doses of sex, lies and the White House are your thing then I can definitely recommend Secrets and Lies. However if you want a little more plot, action and likeable character, it’s probably not the book for you.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Also by Ella Monroe:

   Capital Girls (Capital Girls 1)
Amazon / Book Depository

Book Review: Otherkin by Nina Berry

Title: Otherkin (Otherkin #1)
Author: Nina Berry
Genre: Paranormal romance, shifters, magic
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: July 2012 (I received this book as a digital ARC from NetGalley)
Pages: 320
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I thought I knew myself. Then I met Caleb.

Dez is a good girl who does as she’s told and tries not to be noticed.
Then she rescues a boy from a cage, and he tells her secrets about herself.
Now inside her burns a darkness that will transform her.

Everything is about to change — and neither Caleb, nor the Otherkin, nor those who hunt them are prepared for what Dez will unleash.

My Review:

This book starts with a bang.

Dez gets asked out on her first date, finds out she can shift into a tiger, gets kidnapped, shifts for the second time and manages to escape her abductors with the boy from the cage alongside in tow. All in the first couple of pages.

And the fast paced story just continues along at breakneck speed.

The action and suspense create a very exciting story where at times it seems as if you blink and you would miss a lot of important stuff that happens. For me it was a bit too much action and not enough explanation. I would have loved to have a bit more detail into a lot of the events and perhaps a but more forethought into the consequences. It’s fantastic that the characters are so spontaneous but there were times when I couldn’t quite work out why they were doing the things they were doing – and I’m not entirely sure that the characters understood it either.

I didn’t like how the romance unfolded in this novel. As with everything else, it just happened too quickly with no explanation why or any growth. It was only as I reached the end of the novel that I really started to feel that either Dez or Caleb even really knew who the other person was and it just wasn’t happening for the sake of having a romance sub-plot.

This book was an interesting and enjoyable read but I just felt that I would have enjoyed it more had the pace been slowed down a little and instead of all the action scenes there was a bit more discussion. About the characters, the concept of the Shadows, and about the relationships between the characters – not just that of  Dez and Caleb but also those between Dez and the minor characters, and between the minor characters themselves.

 

Purchase the novel from:

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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.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository


Morganville Monday!: Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine

After discussing this series with a friend the other day, I realized that I stopped after the first two (because that’s all that had been released at that stage). I want to get back into this series that many people I know rave about! So I’ve decided to read one Morganville Vampire book a fortnight for the next few months! Morganville Mondays I shall call the days when I post my reviews!

Welcome to the fifth Morganville Monday – this week focusing on the fifth book of the series, Lord of Misrule.

Book Review:

Title: Lord of Misrule (Morganville Vampires #5)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Vampires
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 2011 (first published 2008)
Pages: 360
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans coexist in (relatively) bloodless harmony. Then comes Bishop, the master vampire who threatens to abolish all order, revive the forces of the evil dead, and let chaos rule. But Bishop isn’t the only threat.

Violent black cyclone clouds hover, promising a storm of devastating proportions as student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against elements both natural and unnatural.

My Review:

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers from the first four books in the Morganville Vampires series.

Morganville is burning. Refugees are fleeing to safety wherever they can find it. Bishop has taken over and the world that Claire and her friends have come to know is in turmoil. Vampires – who they have been shown can not be trusted are now the only means to their survival. Humans and vampires must band together to overcome the greatest evil that Morganville has ever known – Amelie’s father and sire, Bishop.

Lord of Misrule was a hard book for me to get though. I found myself drifting off and thinking about all sorts of other thing whilst reading it and then when I’d go back to the page I’d be completely lost because things would just come out of nowhere and happen.

For a large part of the first fifty percent of this novel it felt like the characters were playing hide and seek. Claire would go off with someone looking for something and then they’d all have to flee. Someone would get lost and then they’d have to go find them. Then some more fleeing. More swooping in to rescue them. I like action. But there were times in this novel when I wanted Claire and Co. to just sit down and regroup.

I rarely understood Claire’s motivation behind her actions. I have grown to like the teenager the more I read of this series but in this book she really disappointed me. I did like how she’s changed in regards to her attitude when dealing with Miss Monica Morell but I grew frustrated with Claire going off half-cocked into a life-or-death situation without really thinking anything through. She was too impulsive and her actions didn’t really correlate with the book-smart girl who I’ve grown to really like.

It must be hard to write about a war when you only have one narrator and she’s telling the story from the first person perspective. And especially with Claire who seemed to be on the fringes of the action for most of it. I felt like I had no idea what was happening. All of a sudden we’d have something happen and I’d have no idea how we went from one scene to being deep in some other drama that had not been mentioned before only a few pages later.

My favourite parts of the novel were the Claire/Shane interactions. They felt well paced and sweet. I thought that these scenes were beautifully written and I loved that everything seemed to slow down and focused on the two of them trying to figure out their relationship.

Whilst I didn’t love this novel and it leaves me with a lot of questions and confusion, I hope that it’s just a bridging novel – breaching the gap between Feast of Fools (which I really enjoyed) and the sixth instalment of the series. There’s still many books to go and I am eager to find out what happens. All these cliffhangers… whilst I love the drama it creates I’m starting to wish for at least one novel without the anxious climax at the end.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Title: Dark Kiss (Nightwatchers #1)
Author: Michelle Rowen
Genre: Paranormal, Angels, Demons
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: June 2012 (I received this book as a digital ARC from NetGalley)
Pages: 348
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I don’t do dangerous.  Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha-that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me…something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing-and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me….

Nightwatchers: When angels and demons must work together, something beyond evil is rising… 

My Review:

Sam never expected Stephen to notice her. Nor did she think when she went to a local club with her best friend, Carly, that Stephen would kiss her. And suck out her soul.

Soulless Sam then finds herself being drawn into a world where Angels and Demons work together to irradiate the Earth from soul sucking creatures which she is now one of.

Bishop, the leader of the Angel/Demon team who has been sent to Earth to send the Source back into the Hallow so it can no longer reek havoc on the humans, is in  a bad way. The only thing keeping him from losing his mind is Sam. Too bad that Sam is a “grey” and as such she’s a threat to him, his team and the rest of the world. But he can’t bring himself to stay away from her and the way she makes him feel.

In a battle of good vs. evil, Sam needs to choose a side for she may be the deciding factor.

I wanted so much to enjoy this novel. I’ve read some of Michelle Rowen’s more adult novels and had a lot of fun reading them. And I thought that the creatures she’s created in this novel were fantastic – very much like a cross between a zombie and a succubus. But there was something about this story that I just didn’t connect with.

I found Sam to be a little too naive about the world. There are some facts about her brought up in the first few chapters (her “criminal” actions; her days as a homeless person) that I’m still trying to work out why they were mentioned. I understand that it was her compassion based on her experiences on the street that lead to her talking to Bishop for the first time but I found Sam to be a little too naive in the ways of the world to really believe that she spent any time on the street – even just a few days.

I also found her a little too easily lead. When it came time to pick a side, she seemed to believe the thing she was told very quickly. And her romance with Bishop? It was a little under explored for my liking. There was not enough build up. It just sort of happened. But that said – I’m always fond of kissing scenes and the ones in this book were written well.

In terms of character development, I’m not sure that the characters grew for me from the time the novel started until the last page. They were at times rather simplistic and well… soulless (pun intended). And I feel like this was a huge reason why I didn’t connect very well with either of the leads. I wanted them to wow me but they didn’t and they were both somewhat forgettable.

I did enjoy the Source. She was deliciously evil and a master manipulator. And I also found myself loving the other members of Bishop’s team – especially Kraven. I loved Kraven. His banter, his insults, his flirting with Sam? He’s such a funny character and a very entertaining one at that.

The plot seemed to move really slowly for me. I spent quite a bit of the first 75% of the novel being somewhat confused or disinterested but then everything picked up and I thought the ending was fantastic! It was action packed with deceit, romance and heroism all packed in.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book but it was rather hard going.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter

Title: The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter (Goddess Test #1.5)

Format: ebook

First Published: March 1, 2012

Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, teen romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads)A vacation in Greece sounds like the perfect way for Kate Winters to spend her first sabbatical away from the Underworld…until she gets caught up in an immortal feud going back millennia. Castor and Pollux have been on the run from Zeus and Hades’s wrath for centuries, hiding from the gods who hunt them. The last person they trust is Kate, the new Queen of the Underworld. Nevertheless, she is determined to help their cause. But when it comes to dealing with immortals, Kate still has a lot to learn….

Review: 

Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins who are now going by the names Casey and Lux, have been fleeing from the wrath of Zeus and Hades for thousands of years. Whilst still on the run, they come across James and Kate who are spending six months holidaying in Greece. When they find out that Kate is the new wife of their biggest enemy, they’re unhappy and with due cause. The Gods have now found them…

This short story served one real purpose. To show that Kate has no idea just how archaic and strict the Gods (including Henry) are. She has a lot to learn before she takes her place on the throne of the Underworld.

I’m not generally a fan of novellas for books in a series. Especially if they are centred around the main characters that a series follow. Why? Because normally they come in an anthology with multiple other stories for series I’m not interested it. Also, they’re often not long enough for me to really get involved with the story and the characters. Whilst this was a single story (and only $0.99!), it was a little too short for me to really get back into Kate and Henry’s world. I did enjoy the pseudo-love triangle that’s developing with James, Kate and Henry but in the end, consider Kate is married to Henry, I don’t see that little flirtation between Kate and James going anywhere.

I think that you could skip this story and not miss out anything important from the series.

Rating: 

2 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Amazon (kindle version)

For my review of Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1), please click here