Book Review: The Queen’s Choice by Cayla Kluver

The Queen's Choice

Title: The Queen’s Choice (Heirs of Chrior Trilogy #1)
Author: Cayla Kluver
Genre: Fantasy, Fae, High Fantasy,  Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 28th January 2014
Pages: 500
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
My life is no longer mine to control. By a single deed, I have become something more than I wanted to be.

When sixteen-year-old Anya learns that her aunt — Queen of the Faerie Kingdom of Chrior — will soon die, her grief is equalled only by her despair for the future of the kingdom. Her young cousin, Illumina, is unfit to rule and Anya is determined not to take up the queen’s mantle herself.

Convinced that the only solution is to find Prince Zabriel — who long ago disappeared into the human realm of Warckum — and persuade him to take up his rightful crown, Anya journeys into the Warckum Territory to bring him home. But her journey is doomed to be more harrowing than she ever could have imagined…

My Review:

The Fae Queen is dying and wants her sixteen year old niece, Anya, to be her successor. Ruling her people is not something Anya thought she would be doing and instead decides to venture into Human lands and find her wayward cousin, the Queen’s half-human half-fae son and true heir to the Chrior throne, Prince Zabriel. Misfortune favours Anya as she journeys through the human realm of Warchum but she needs to complete her self-appointed mission before it’s too late for the Queen and her son to reconcile.

Anya is a very interdependent and strong young woman. Having to face horrors with an alarming frequency but somehow she manages to emerge slightly damaged but still with a fighting spirit. She’s gone though so much and despite having lost so much somehow she has even more taken from her. She does tend to feel sorry for herself at times and whilst it’s entrely understandable, it doesn’t make her the most enjoyable character to read. This story really gets going once Anya meets Shea. Shea is every bit as strong as Anya but without the street smarts and a little more naive about the darkness of human (and fae) nature. The camaraderie between the two was a pleasure to read and I loved how they supported each other.

There is a lot going on in this book. A gorgeous pirate and his mischievous crew, faeries with an innate connection to the elements, political unease between the Fae and Humans, an adventure and a quest and a lot of hidden motives. And I enjoyed reading Anya’s journey throughout the Human realm. However I almost didn’t finish this book. I was a hundred pages in and I didn’t feel a connection to the characters and found the book to be a little convoluted and monotonous. The writing is very descriptive but a little long-winded. This book would have benefited from being a little more direct and to the point. I’m so glad that I didn’t give up because after the first 20% this book is great. It’s still a little slow at times but the characters Anya meets on the way and the way events play out were well worth it. One thing that surprised me was how much I enjoyed the romance – or lack there of. Anya is betrothed to a lovely young fae man but it doesn’t overwhelm the story. This is not just a book about a girl choosing the man she wants to be with. It’s about so much more. Duty to one’s people and family. Risking everything to do what you believe is right. And to never give up no matter what hardships have been bestowed upon you.

I’ve not read a Cayla Kluver novel before but I am delighted to have finished the Queen’s Choice. There are twists I didn’t see coming and have me eagerly anticipating the next books in the series. I have so many questions but they are the good kind of questions where I can’t wait to see just where Kluver is going to take Anya, Zabriel and the unrest between the two realms next.

 Thanks to Harlequin Teen and for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Elites by Natasha Ngan

The Elites

Title: The Elites
Author: Natasha Ngan
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 368
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
‘There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.’

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension.

Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.

My Review:

In the city of Neo-Babel there are citizens with superior DNA who guard the people. They are called the Elite. Silver has been in training with the Elite for a few years and is dying for a chance to prove herself to others. To those who thought her Red blood is inferior and those – like her student mentor, Ember- who think Silver is incapable of being one of the Elite. On her very first assignment to help protect the president during a rally, Silver is the one whose lack of punctuality among other things get the president assassinated.

Things start getting weirder with people going missing and an uprising on the horizon. Silver, along with her best friend Butterfly, are on a quest to try to save her family and unravel the secrets that the Elite seem to thrive on.

This is a debut novel with a lot going on. There are plots and sub-plots with a lot of different characters and organizations each with their own agendas. I adored the concept of this book. I can’t get enough of kick-arse heroines who have their own vulnerabilities but ultimately see the bigger picture. Silver is one of these. She’s a little naive but trying to be the best warrior she can be. I thought it was interesting how the topic of racism is addressed right throughout the novel. Silver is a Red, a person of Chinese descent, and as such viewed as a lesser person than others even within the Elite structure.

I enjoyed the other students at the Elite academy – in particular, Butterfly. His name may be pretty and delicate but he’s strong in his own right and a force to be reckoned with. His relationship with Silver is one of strong friendship with their romance being more subtle and whilst enjoyable, it lacked the sparks and pizzazz that I like between fictional characters. Ember, Cobe, Allum and Taiyo are great supporting character who all add something a little different to the story. I thought the names were especially clever. People like Butterfly and the organization, the Pigeons, are so seemingly weak and childish and yet they hold a lot of power within them.

Brilliant world building and some great characters, The Elite is an interesting urban fantasy novel. The plot is a little slow to warm up but once things get going there’s a lot of surprises and action going on. I was surprised to see that it’s a standalone because there’s so much more about this universe which this book exists to be explored.

 

Thanks to Hot Key Books for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Name-Given by David McLean

Title: Name-Given (Riddle-Quest #1)
Author: David McLean
Genre: Action, Adventure, Middle School 
Publisher: Delta Psi
Publication Date: 1 April 2013
Pages: 152
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Cast into the night, four young travellers must venture from the comfort of their villages to find their names. Each has a staff, a challenge and a history of riddling to help them on their way. But the press-heavy sounds of animals approaching, the limb-sky of the forest and the fear of the unknown are all about. How will they survive? The answer may just be in the riddle – “What always runs but never walks, often murmurs, never talks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never eats?”

My Review:

In a world where riddles are a way of life, young people must undergo a quest to find their name – and their position within the village. Meeting up with other young travellers also searching for their names, Stumbler and his new companions riddle their way through the forest and towards their futures.

I love riddles and one of the best things about Name-Given is the way the riddles interspersed throughout the novel are not just entertaining to read but are imperative to the plot. The language used is easy to read and very inventive at the same time – the short hand compound words (like Name-Given, heart-warm and pocket-close) which McLean created for his characters are so simple and yet so clever. The characters evolve throughout the short novel constantly learning more about the world, each other and themselves as they journey on their quest.

This is a quick and fun book which I think would appeal to younger aged readers.

Thanks to Delta Psi for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon


Book Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Scent of Magic (Healer #2)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: paranormal, fantasy, magic, adventure
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: January 2013
Pages: 414 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible … again

My Review:

After reading Touch of Power (the first book in the Healer series) I couldn’t wait to get back to Avry, Kerrick and the rest of the characters from the Thirteen Realms.

Avry, back from the dead, is a healer on a mission – to stop Tohon from taking over the Realms and experimenting on the innocent with his army of the living dead. After deciding to separate from Kerrick (and letting him fight his own battles in the North), Avry joins Astrid’s army in disguise and gathers as much intelligence as she can under her new assumed identity. Hiding in plain sight and showing just how good a soldier she can be, Avry manages to get close to both her old friends (the Monkeys, Belen) but also her estranged sister, Noelle.

Meanwhile, Kerrick is back in his own kingdom trying to amass an army of his own to fight against King Tohon. But things don’t go according to plan and Kerrick finds himself trying to stay one step ahead of enemies he didn’t even know he had.

There’s a lot going on in this book and I enjoyed the layout – every Avry chapter was followed by a brief overview of what was going on in Kerrick’s part of the world. Simultaneously we, the readers, were able to follow both their stories with ease. The only problem with this was it meant the novel as whole missed the spark of banter between the two leads that I enjoyed so much from the first novel.

I loved getting to see a new side of Avry – not just a healer but a warrior in her own right and a fairly kick-arse one at that. The training of her group of soldiers was interesting and I liked to see the camaraderie between them.

In many ways this book is a transition novel – bridging the gap between the first novel and the final novel of the series. There’s a lot of ground work being laid and stuff that doesn’t seem to be all that relevant at the moment but is just leading up for the next book. I enjoyed reading it – there’s A LOT of surprises and action, drama, betrayal going on but it fell a little short of my expectations.

I would definitely recommend this book for fans of the first one and can’t wait for the third book to be released in a year’s time!

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

With the world coming to an end tomorrow (or so TV is trying to tell me), I decided it would be appropriate to review an apocalyptic novel – and I’ve chosen Poison Princess written by one of my favourite paranormal authors, Kresley Cole. I love her Immortals After Dark series and have been wanting to read this book for a very long time. I was delighted to see how Ms. Cole tackled a book in the Young Adult genre.

You know how some people have a list of things they adore and love to read about? This ticked just about every one on my list: motorcycles, gorgeous Cajun bad boys, kick-arse heroines and story that kept me hooked well after I finished the last page.

Title: Poison Princess (The Arcadia Chronicles #1)
Author: Kresley Cole
Genre: post-apocalyptic, dystopian, magic, paranormal, romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: October 2012
Pages: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

My Review:

Evie is the golden girl – she’s dating the school’s handsome quarterback and together with her three best friends, she’s one-quarter of the most popular clique in school. But when Evie starts having gruesome visions, her mother ships her off for the summer to a house for disturbed teenagers.

With the start of a new school year Evie tries to ignore the oddities around her and concentrate on her friends, her boyfriend, and the fact there’s only two more years till graduation and then college. Just two more years.

That is until the gorgeous bad boy, Jackson Deveraux, comes to town. Complete with his best friends from the Bayou – Lionel, Clotile and Gaston (Okay… not that Gaston) – they’re there to shake things up. Instantly there’s tension between Jack and Evie. He sees her as the pretty little rich girl who never has to work for anything in her life and Evie sees Jack as a perverted thief from the wrong side of the tracks. But personalities aside – there’s plenty of attraction at first sight from both sides.

Evie’s visions and hallucinations keep getting more bizarre, scary and frequent. When Evie figures out that her nightmares are actually warnings and premonitions of the future- it’s too late. The Flash has devastated the world.

With the only like she has ever known is falling apart all around her Evie doesn’t have much option but to trust one of the only allies she has left – Jack. Together the Cajun and the Princess have to try to work together to survive and figure out what Evie’s powers mean.

I couldn’t put this book down. From the start to the final page there was always something happening that intrigued me into wanting to know exactly what was going to happen next.

The highlight was the banter between Evie and Jack. They would constantly bait each other and the resulting conversations were always amusing. I loved the innuendos and playful taunts but also found their more serious interactions just as scintillating. I thought the way Cole wrote Jack’s dialogue was perfect – it was easy to read and get into the vibe of the Cajun lingo. What I liked most about these two is how their relationship developed. It’s not love at first sight – but there is a great deal of lust from their first encounter. And they aren’t perfect – either of them. But they do grow as people and with regards to their relationship with each other. There are misunderstandings and lack of communication skills and whatnot. I loved that things aren’t easy for Evie and Jack.

Evie’s powers fascinated me – I have to admit that I can’t wait to see where she goes in the future. And the journey that she’s on to defeat the Evil players in the game. She may have started the book as a victim but by the end she was a force to be reckoned with! I have no doubt that Evie will be on the winning side of this dangerous battle but I just don’t know if it will be good or evil who will prevail victorious.

The Tarot element in the plot is interesting and unique. I don’t know much about the Major Arcadia (I had to have a bit of a google search to have a look at the cards we’ve met so far) and thought Selena, Finn and Matthew were such contrasting characters with powers that are so different and yet still have a lot of power. With there being so many “cards” not yet introduced – there’s a lot of room for incredible new characters to make appearances later in the series.

Drama, romance, action and magic – this book really does have it all. Without a doubt I can put this down as one of my favourite books of 2012. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Touch of Power (Healer #1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: paranormal, fantasy, magic, adventure
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: December 2011
Pages: 390 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The price of peace may well be her life…

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogue who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader – an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own – is unequivocal in his demands; Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince, the leader of a campaign against her people.

As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for.

My Review:

Avry of Kazan – a healer on the run ever since the Plague started three years ago and the people turned against those with the power to heal. After an incident lands Avry in a jail cell and a date with her death in the morning, a stranger offers Avry a choice. She can come with him and save his friend or keep her appointment with the gallows.

Taking Kerrick of Alga up on his deal, Avry joins his warriors as they make their way though many of the Fifteen Realms facing assassins and magicians on an adventure Avry never saw coming.

This book is the kind of adventure fantasy book that I adore. There’s action and drama. Despite the time frame of this novel taking months and there being down time in between deathly feats, there was never a boring moment during the entire book.

Avry is a kick arse heroine. She’s strong in spirit and can hold her own against Kerrick and his bunch of merry men but she knows how to follow orders when completely necessary. The Monkeys (Quain and Loren), Papa Bear (Belen) and Flea are absolutely fantastic. They provide much necessary comic relief – not only to the reader but also to the other characters.

The magic in this book is fascinating. The eleven different types and the magicians who control them are well thought out. I thought the mages were especially intriguing. Jael, Tohon, Sepp and the others are characters that I loved reading about not just for their personalities but for their powers and how they worked.

There’s so much going on in this book – the current political power struggle, magic, the back story between the royals of the Realms, healers and the Plague – but Synder managed to write it all in such a way that made perfect sense. There were times when I felt like Kerrick’s group were wandering mindlessly for a while before something new happened and they had new purpose but for the most part I loved how everything come together.

Touch of Power is the first book in the Healer series with the second, Scent of Magic, being released in January 2013 by HarlequinTeen.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

I’m always looking for new books to read. So a couple of months ago I was asking my friend Cam for recommendations and he suggested The Alchemyst. I bought it that night (I think that internet shopping is just feeding my book buying addiction) and then after it arrived in the mail it just sat on my desk for a long time before I got around to reading it. But I’ve finished it (finally!).

Title: The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1)
Author: Michael Scott
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Mythology, Magic
Publisher: Delacourte Press
Publication Date: May 2007 
Pages: 375
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.

The records show that he died in 1418.

But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time

My Review:

Sophie and Josh Newman, fifteen-year-old twins, had planned on working during the summer to save up enough money to buy a car. But when the book store Josh was employed at gets broken into by a couple of golems, Josh learns that his boss – the laid back Nick Flemming – is none other than the immortal alchemyst Nicholas Flamel. Dee manages to fling around his dark magic, kidnap Flamel’s wife and steal the one book that Flamel has spent most of his unnaturally long life trying to protect.

And that’s just the first chapter!

This book is full of action and all sorts of magical and mythical creatures. There’s Greek, Irish, Egyptian and so many other types of mythology touched upon and I was surprised to read in the author’s note that all the characters (with the exception of the twins) were based on real historical people or mythological beings.

The twins are interesting characters. The entire novel takes place over a matter of days and despite the short time frame they have both changed so much since the start of the book. I can’t wait to see what happens the in other books with regards to the prophecy and who Josh and Sophie decide to align themselves with.

Nicholas Flamel – the Alchemyst himself – was probably my least favourite character. I think I was expecting too much from him and in this first novel he and his motives remain a bit of a mystery.

I loved the idea of Hekate’s shadowrealm and her World Tree – that’s the kind of tree house I’d love to have in the backyard. Scathach (Scatty) was more fun than I expected a 2500 year old character to be and I can’t wait to see just how Perry fares. The Morrigan is rather scary and not just because she hangs around with a murder of crows. She’s turning out to be a brilliant villain – I just can’t wait to see what sinister plans she has next.

This was an entertaining book and a pleasant change from all the YA romances I’ve been reading of late.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository