Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

This review will contain slight spoils of the first book in the series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) 
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: fantasy, angels, young adult, demons, supernatural
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (an imprint of Hachette), Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: November 8th 2012
Pages: 513 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.
And its snap split the world in two.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

My Review:

Karou is still reeling after Akiva and the wishbone revealed their secrets. Her family gone, her heart-broken and she’s now stuck in a war between Angels and Chimera. Feeling betrayed and lonely, Karou tries to find some piece and purpose in the world.

Much like it’s predecessor, this book is beautifully written. It makes reading every page a pleasure. I love the emotions of the characters that come across in thoughts and interactions. The plot is epic. It’s interesting and creative with twists that make perfect sense and yet I never saw coming. This book involves more than just Karou and Akiva – there are scenes with Chimera and Angels along the way that add to the brutality of the war that’s taking place. And there’s also Zuzana. I love the pocket-sized dynamo. She adds comic relief and a few laughs when the tension Karou thrives on gets to be almost too much. Her interactions with Mik are both humorous and delightfully romantic.

Karou is a little darker in this book. The things she does are taking a toll on her soul and she’s devastated about her feelings regarding Akiva. I loved getting some more insight to Akiva and his background. By the end I was feeling equally heartbroken on his behalf as I am for Karou. The world of the Chimera is an interesting one to be a part vicariously though her. There are some truly evil characters in this novel and their actions are at times truly scary.  The Angels are equally fascinating to read.

I have loved every moment I have spent reading this book and am a little devastated that I have to wait till 2014 for the next instalment of this fantastic series.

Many thanks to The Reading Room for providing me with a copy to review

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: paranormal romance, fantasy, magic, witches
Publisher: Little Brown Books (an imprint of Hachette)
Publication Date: 1 December 2009
Pages: 563 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My Review:

Without darkness there can be no light…

Gatlin is a small town with small-minded thinking. Ethan Wate feels like he’s been trapped his entire life. He’s counting down the days till he can go to college and escape. His dreams are haunted by a beautiful mysterious girl he’s never met. Night after night he fails her in these dreams. Things get even more spooky when he comes face to face with his “dream girl”, Lena Duchannes – old man Ravenwood’s niece, and she smells like she does in her dreams. Lemons and rosemary.

Ethan is drawn to Lena like he’s never been before. It’s magical the way they share dreams and thoughts. Lena isn’t like anyone Gatlin has ever seen before. But Lena has a secret. She’s not just any other girl. She has a dangerous secret and a family that puts the fun in dysfunctional. Creepy cousins, bizarre uncles and a house that changes furnishings instantly. Lena has a family legacy that will either free her or condemn her on her sixteenth birthday. The countdown is on and her relationship with Ethan only makes things even more confusing and dangerous.

I’ve not read many teen novels dealing with romance told from a male’s perspective. I liked that this book isn’t the typical girl meets strange mysterious boy kind of love story.

This is a long book and it took me a very very long time to read it. I started this book months ago and only just finished it. Some parts seemed to take forever for anything to happen and then there were action sequences that were a little rushed. I felt like some Southern stereotypes were played up and there were a lot of clichés used. That said, I liked the characters. Lena was the new mysterious girl with a dark past. Her family is eccentric and somehow loveable – all of them the light and the dark. Ethan was a little bland in comparison but he’s merely mortal (or is he?) and had an easy narration style to follow. Whilst I’m not sure a guy would pay quite so much attention to clothing I thought Garcia and Stohl manage to write a male point of view that was surprisingly authentic.

Conceptually I loved the story. There’s mystique and drama around every corner. The different powers were interesting and one of the supporting characters was an awesome librarian (however the name, Marian the Librarian reminded me a bit too much of The Music Man). I wasn’t convinced by the love story in terms of how it came to be but I loved the relationship between Ethan and Lena as the countdown ticked down and the Sixteenth Moon was upon them.

Overall this was an enjoyable read however it just took too long to get to the good parts and there was something about the way the South was described that got under my skin and irritated it.

 Additional Note:
I listened to this book as an Audible audiobook (Seventeen and a half hours!). Whilst I liked the narrator’s pacing, his accents infuriated me. I understand that the characters were from the South and needed Southern accents HOWEVER I couldn’t quite get into Ethan’s character since his dialogue was narrated in an accent but his thoughts and narration was not. It felt like the two were not quite the same person.

ALSO:

If you’re planning on reading this book do not, I repeat DO NOT!, go to the IMDB page for casting for the movie. I was talking to my sister about going to see the movie this weekend because she was excited about a certain actor/actress was in it. When she told me what character the person was playing it divulged a critical plot point that didn’t happen until the last ten percent or so of the book…

Purchase the novel from:

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Read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Listened to for the 2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

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.

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Amazon

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Book Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Title: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, magic
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: 12 June 2012
Pages: 418 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

My Review:

This book picks up where Bloodlines ended – with Sydney still overseeing the crew of vampires hiding in Palm Springs to protect the Moroi Queen’s sister, Jill.

Sydney is growing on me the more I get to read about her and her adventures. She’s becoming more human as her interactions with vampires increases. She’s still dedicated to being “the responsible one” but she’s also realizing there’s more of a life out there than what her father has trained her for. There are friends, there are school dances and there are intelligent boys who smell like coffee. I liked seeing Sydney’s attempts at dating Brayden – a barista who works with Trey. Her flirting and dates with the male equal to herself. Although Sydney did start to wear on my nerves slightly at times, she’s becoming slightly kick-ass and I’m loving how her character is growing.

The other characters are what make this series addictive for me. Eddie, Angeline and Jill are fun and interesting – if not a little trouble. And then there’s Adrian. He’s snarky and spirited – his banter with Sydney being some of the most amusing parts of the novel. They’ve got great chemistry and their antics keep me enthralled. Seeing Adrian’s softer side just makes him a fantastic character to read about.

Plot wise – I love how Mead ties everything together. She’s constantly thinking about her characters no matter if they’re in the spotlight or not and when things come to a climax – it’s surprising but at the same time is completely logical. It’s a pleasure to read her books. There’s more new characters with their own secrets and problems but they’re equally as fascinating and endearing as the characters I’ve grown to love from the previous book.

This book is exciting with drama and action around every corner. With romance and suspense and adventure building, this is a series that I can’t help but think is going to be one of my all time favourites.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

With the third Bloodlines books, The Indigo Spell, being released next week (February 12th!) I’ve decided to prepared by sharing my reviews for the first books in the series. Enjoy!

Title: Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, magic
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: 23 August 2011
Pages: 421 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

My Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now – but decided to wait until I’d finished reading the Vampire Academy series before I started. And I’m glad that I did. Whilst it’s not necessary to read Vampire Academy before Bloodlines, this book does contain many spoilers of the previous series and there are many shared characters.

Sydney Sage is an alchemist in trouble. After assisting Rose Hathaway on orders from the slightly sinister and shady Abe Mazar, Sydney is very close being sent away and reprogrammed as an alchemist after being found sympathizing with the enemy – Vampires. But there’s an opportunity for her to redeem herself. Jill Dragomir needs protection from those who disapprove of her sister becoming Moroi Queen. Sydney is called in to help Jill, her guardian Eddie Castile and slightly bizarre friend, Adrian Ivashkov, fit in whilst they’re hiding in a ritzy Palm Springs boarding school.

With vampires, a rival alchemist and Mean Girls to deal with, Sydney never knew just how hard high school was.

Having read and loved the Vampire Academy series, I was already familiar with most of the characters in Bloodlines. Sydney Sage, the slightly uptight, by-the-book alchemist is a much stronger character than I gave her credit for previously. She’s smart, brave and more open-minded than I think her alchemist father would like. She takes on so much responsibility and acts way beyond her eighteen years. I loved seeing her grow as a person and how her relationships with the vampires developed over the novel.

Adrian, Jill and Eddie were just as interesting. They are all fighting their own battles but still manage to see the big picture. I love the interactions between all of them – the sister relationship between Sydney and Jill, the friendship with Eddie and the bizarre connection that Adrian and Sydney are experiencing. There is a different side of all these characters not previously seen. Adrian is rather dark – battling his inner demons as well as a broken heart. But despite his snide and sarcastic manner, he still manages to come across as some what endearing.

Plot wise – there’s a lot going on. And it managed to all happen simultaneously without confusion. And surprisingly – practically no romance to speak of.

I loved this book. Richelle Mead’s style is one that’s humorous and easy to read. The characters are engaging (especially those of Adrian and Jill) and the plot will keep you guessing and hooked right up until the last page.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: contemporary romance; realistic fiction;
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 11 January 2012
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

My Review:

Coming into reading this book – not knowing anything about it – and finding out on the very first page that the main character had terminal cancer, I knew that it wasn’t going to be the kind of book filled with sunshine and rainbows. And it wasn’t. But it was the kind full of heartbreak and hope, a few tears here and there as well as a hearty dose of laughter.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel – a teenager who has been fighting a never-ending battle against her own body. Given up on a real life, Hazel drifts between class, watching reality tv with her parents and (at her mother’s request) going to a cancer kid support group once a week. It’s there that Augustus Waters enters her life. In Augustus, Hazel finds a kindred spirit. Someone she can be herself with, someone who knows what she’s been through.

I loved these two together – they’re both quirky and a little pretentious. And whilst pretentious isn’t usually a trait that endears me to characters, I loved how these two interacted with each other. They’ve been through so much at such a young age with both of them never expecting a future. They’ve become somewhat old for their age. And where their bodies are falling apart around them, their minds are free to grow and give them a somewhat unique wisdom. They are both intuitive and poignant with a sense of humour that stayed with them both no matter what.

The relationships in this book were another part that shone for me – Hazel with her parents, Hazel + Augustus and Peter and Hazel + Augustus and Isaac – I loved them all for different reasons. It was beautiful to read a story of someone with a terminal disease who didn’t spend their entire time being bitter. I loved Hazel’s camaraderie with her family and the gallows humour she and Augustus invoked at Isaac regarding his sight (or lack thereof).

The only thing stopping me from giving this book a perfect score is that I found it somewhat predictable. There were surprising turns of events but overall I found things going along just as I was expecting. That said, it never stopped the story from being one that I couldn’t put down.

I can understand why after over a year since this book was first released, it remains in the number one on the best seller list for YA literature in Australia. It’s a beautifully written book with characters that both broke my heart and broke my face into a giant smile every so often. I’ve not read a John Green book before but after reading A Fault in Our Stars I can’t wait to check out some of his older works.

Thanks to NetGalley for the digital review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: paranormal romance, vampires, urban fantasy, werewolves, magic
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 2010
Pages: 320 pages
Rating: 3 stars

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

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

So much for normal.

My Review:

Evie is a very interesting character – she’s confident about her job but at the same time she’s just naive teenager trying to make her way in the world. Having lived inside the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) since she was a little girl, werewolves, vampires and fae are a part of her every day life. Her best friend is a mermaid and Evie is the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

Then one day everything changes. There’s a break in at the Agency and Evie comes face to face with a paranormal she’s never seen the likes of before. A shapeshifter who can take the form of any person or paranormal being. Good thing Evie can see though his shifts.

When paranromals are being murdered, a stranger mysterious shape changing boy infiltrating Evie’s thoughts and Evie’s abilities mutating – her life will never be the same. And to think – Evie thought the world was boring and would give anything to have a locker and go to Prom…

This book has a lot of promise. It’s a fun world where the fae are manipulative and somewhat sinister. Vampires are neither sophisticated nor do they sparkle. And werewolves are no more than the hired help who get furry once a month.

Evie is both jaded by the world she lives in and yet completely naive and excited by the mundane. I thought it was adorable that her favourite show was a Gossip Girl type teen drama. Who would have thought a girl could be so excited by school lockers and driver’s licenses! But whilst I adored the sweet side of Evie, I found her professional demeanour somewhat off-putting. With her trusty pink taser “Tasey” by her side, Evie felt way too immature and slightly irritating.

The shape shifting boy – Lend – was the stuff teenage dreams are made off. He was the prefect match for Evie. The other minor characters were interesting and I liked the small plot deviations they brought about. Vivian was vibrant and I can’t wait to see her in the future.

For a first book in a series – Paranormalcy does a great job at setting the scene. I loved the variety of creatures and how they interacted with each other – especially the Fae! I already have a copy of the second book, Supernaturally, and can’t wait to start reading.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Read as part of the:

Eclectic Reader Challenge (urban fantasy)

2013 TBR Reading Challenge