Book Review: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable ( The Legion #1), Kami Garcia

Title: Unbreakable (The Legion #1)
Author: Kami Garcia
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 320
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kennedy Waters didn’t believe in ghosts, until one tried to kill her.

When Kennedy finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that evil forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her house and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon – a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon – battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels

My Review:

Kennedy lives in her safe little world with her mother, her best friend, her cat named Elvis and a room full of art supplies. But one day after her cat runs away, Kennedy finds herself in a graveyard and everything changes. Her mother dies mysteriously and Kennedy sees things that shouldn’t be there – ghostly things. When brothers, Jared and Lukas Lockhart show up, Kennedy is drawn into a world of paranormal spirits and the Legion – a group of five seemingly unconnected individuals with ghost hunting skills being passed down from generation to generation.

Kennedy isn’t the most likely person to become a ghost hunter. She’s content with her life. Her mother loves her and makes her pancakes. Her best friend Elle takes care of Kennedy’s social life organizing group outings and double dates. Her dad might be out of the picture and her boyfriend may have recently broken her heart but over all – things are good for Kennedy Waters. And then a ghost tries to kill her and her mother is murdered by a demon. In many ways this book feels like it’s trying to pick up the Supernatural TV show vibe but it misses the mark with me.

Unbreakable reads a little young at times. Kennedy is seventeen but someone could be forgiven for thinking she’s several years younger for most of the book. But she does grow up – somewhere between first meeting the girl in the white dress and joining the Legion – and the story gets more enjoyable.

The rest of the characters are fun to read. There are the Lockhart twins, Lucas and Jared, both with an interest in Kennedy, the technological genius Priest, and Alara – the privileged goth girl who bankrolls the adolescent ghost hunters. Each come with their own unique set of skills and interesting back stories for the reader to discover as the novel unfolds. There’s interesting plot that develops but at times it felt unplanned and hurried. The way the teens find each piece of the puzzle often felt bizarre and almost accidental. The love triangle felt convenient and not a situation where I cared which way Kennedy decided.

Overall this is an interesting read but I won’t be continuing with the series. I didn’t feel emotionally involved with what will happen next nor with the characters themselves. In many ways I felt like this book was trying to imitate the first season of Supernatural the TV show but fell a little short.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and The Reading Room for the review copy. 

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Book Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)

Title: The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Boarding School
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

My Review:

It’s no secret that the Bloodlines series is one of my favourites. And despite my reservations about the cover (I’m not a fan of Sydney’s hair….), The Fiery Heart is my favourite so far! There’s a lot going on – romantically, magically – and the extra pressure of family dynamics are wearing on Sydney. Things seem to have finally worked themselves out with her and Adrian having admitted their feelings for each other and attempting some kind of relationship. But when Sydney’s little sister now inked as an Alchemist and being tasked with helping Sydney with the vampires, the new couple are going to have to keep their romance under wraps. Adrian has his own problems – it seems impossible for him to find a happy medium between being spirit and sanity.

I was impressed with how well the dual point of view between Sydney and Adrian worked. I wasn’t sure I’d like changing things up from how the series had been going so far but it was a refreshing change to get to see what was going on from someone different. Not only that but it’s the first time in the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series where we have had a narration from a Moroi and I liked getting to see the impacts of spirit first hand. Getting to see Sydney from Adrian’s point of view was lovely. For all the cockiness and sarcasm he may try to project to world, it was clear to see just how much he loved her and how hard he was trying to be the best person he could be – not just for her but for himself as well. We may have had to wait three books for these two to get together but it was worth it to get the interactions and beautiful dynamic that we get to see in The Fiery Heart.

There’s a lot going on but all the different story lines manage to fit together perfectly. In this book, Sydney is feeling the pressure of her family. Her sister wants her to spend more time together but between discovering her witchy magic, spending time with Adrian and sorting out the antics of her vampire charges, there never seems to be time for Sydney to breathe never mind have some girl time with Zoe. It’s never apparent to me just where Ms. Mead is going to take things next – from romantic relationships to just what the different sects of society (the Alchemists, the Warriors, the Coven)  are up to. I loved the ties in with characters we have not seen much since Vampire Academy – with Lissa asking Adrian for help and getting to see the rest of the group now a little older and wiser interacting with a more evolved Adrian.

This book has everything that I love about this series. Chemistry between the leads, interesting plots, a secondary cast of characters who add to the overall story and are entertaining to read, and dialogue that makes me feel so many different emotions. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Silver Shadows (July 2014) and am desperately eager to find out what happens to Sydney next. This book does end on a cliffhanger that’s left me anxious to see what’s ahead for these characters.

Favourite Quotes:

“Escape plan number seventeen,” I told her. “Run away and open a juice stand in Fresno.”
“Why Fresno?”
“Sounds like the kind of place people drink a lot of juice.”

“It’s Adrian Ivashkov logic. Don’t try to understand it. Just roll with it.”

“An image of Sydney’s face appeared in my mind’s eye, calm and lovely.
I believe in you.
My anxiety faded.
I took a deep breath and met the gazes of all those watching me in the room.
Who was I to do this?
I was Adrian Ivashkov.
And I was about to kick some ass.”

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Book Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout

Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)

Title: Half-Blood (Covenant #1)
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult, First in a Series
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: September 2011
Pages: 281
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

My Review:

Alex has been on the run from daimons since she saw them murder her mother. After another attack, and nowhere to go, Alex is taken to the Covenant – a boarding school for Hermatoi, offspring of the gods – and the very place where she and her mother fled from three years earlier. Alex was not the best student and her past behaviour record threatens to have her expelled before she is even a student again. She has a choice – to train with the gorgeous pureblood, Aiden St Delphi, or become a servant in her stepfather’s mansion.

I’ve wanted to read this series for a while. I have a weakness for books with strong heroines and magical boarding schools. I’d heard that this series has a lot in common with Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy books and there is a lot that feels familiar (the forbidden romance, the class system, even the boarding school itself). However there is enough different about these stories that I wasn’t constantly comparing the two.

Alex is the kind of girl who acts first and deals with the repercussions later. But she isn’t blindly rebellious. She knows when to pull her head in and when to break the rules. Her loyalty to her mother and her friends is fierce and there is logic behind her decisions. The forbidden romance between Alex and Aiden is fun to read but it did feel a touch like déjà vu.

The plot is interesting. There’s an Apollyon, some mythical half-blood with the power of the elements and super daimon fighting skills. Mix with that some great fight scenes, some mean girls, evil stepfather, ominous and mysterious uncle and a heartbreaking decision. Armentrout is not kind to her characters and I admire Alex all the more for what she goes though in this novel.

I’m curious as to what happens next for Alex now she knows a little more about herself and I intend to read the next books in the series but it’s not a priority. I like the characters and the plot yet there are other series I want to catch up on first. 

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Book Review: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Killer Frost (Mythos Academy, #6)

Title: Killer Frost (Mythos Academy #6)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult, Last in the Series
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Publication Date: February 2014
Pages: 384
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I’ve battled the Reapers of Chaos before–and survived. But this time I have a Bad, Bad Feeling it’s going to be a fight to the death … most likely mine.

Yeah, I’ve got my psychometry magic, my talking sword, Vic–and even the most dangerous Spartan on campus at my side, in Logan freaking Quinn, but I’m no match for Loki, the evil Norse god of chaos. I may be Nike’s Champion, but at heart, I’m still just Gwen Frost, that weird Gypsy girl everyone at school loves to gossip about.

Then someone I love is put in more danger than ever before, and something inside me snaps. This time, Loki and his Reapers are going down for good … or I am.

My Review:

Gwen Frost, Nike’s Champion and psychometric Gypsy, has been though a lot. Reapers, Rocs and Fenrir Wolf Pups have all done their best to try and quash Gwen and her friends but they haven’t succeeded. And now it’s time for the final battle. Nike’s followers verses Loki’s Reapers. Gwen knows she isn’t alone. She has Vic, Logan the Spartan, Daphne the Valkyrie and a whole bunch of friends to back her up…  but Gwen knows that she is the key to locking Loki back up but she hasn’t the slightest idea how she is supposed to do it.

I’ve been a big fan of this series since I read the first book a few years ago. All kinds of mythology, boarding school and some fantastic characters. It’s always sad when a series you’re enjoying comes to a close but as the saying goes – all good things must come to an end. Gwen is trying to navigate her first romantic relationship with Logan whilst trying to decipher Nike’s cryptic advice. The Reapers are out in force, stealing artifacts and rearing up for a big finish.

One of the things I’ve come to love about this series is Gwen however I wasn’t the biggest fan of her in Killer Frost. I want characters to grow and mature as people as their get older. To have their experiences improve them. But in this book Gwen regressed slightly. She’s not learned that she’s stronger when she has her friends beside her and constantly reminding everyone that she’s the only one that can defeat Loki. I understand that she has a lot on her shoulders. That she is the chosen one. But it felt somewhat out of character to me for her to be shunning those who can help her and still taking such disregard for her own safety – especially since she knows if anything happens to her then the entire world is at risk.

The way the final battle went down was great to read. It incorporated so much of what the things I loved about the previous books as well as new things I wasn’t expecting. The ending was perfectly fitting for all of the characters and I liked seeing familiar faces showing up again.

I’m glad that I read this series. It’s fun and I really enjoyed how the mythologies were incorporated together. It feels like we may get a spin-off and if that does happen I will definitely be reading it too!

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Teen for the review copy.

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Graphic Novel Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Frostbite: The Graphic Novel (Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel, #2)

Title: Frostbite (Vampire Academy Graphic Novel #2)
Author:
Richelle Mead
Adapted by: Leigh Dragoon
Illustrated by: Emma Vieceli
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Vampires, Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: April 2012
Pages: 164
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The drama and romance continue in this 144-page full-color graphic novel adaptation of the second Vampire Academy novel, Frostbite, which was overseen by Richelle Mead and features beautiful art by acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli.

When love and jealousy collide on the slopes, winter break turns deadly.

A Strigoi attack puts St. Vladimir’s on high alert, and the Academy whisks its students away on a mandatory holiday ski trip. But the glittering winter landscape and posh Idaho resort only provide the illusion of safety. When three students run away to strike back at the Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. Only this time, Rose—and her heart—are in more danger than she could have imagined.

My Review:

Rose may have saved Lissa’s life in Vampire Academy but there are more threats on the Moroi Princess’ life. With the entire vampire world on guard, the school sends students to a luxury ski resort to try to keep them safe. Whilst St. Vladamir’s might be trying to protect their students it seems that trouble always seems to find Rose and her friends. With fantastic new characters and all the old favourites, Frostbite picks up right where Vampire Academy ended and continues with a lot of action and drama.

I’m not a graphic novel person. I’ve read perhaps one in the past three years. But with the Vampire Academy movies being released soon and the slight withdrawal I seem to go though in between instalments of the Bloodlines series, I couldn’t resist buying a copy of Frostbite last week (and I know I could have bought the first book but I was curious to see an artist’s recreation of Adrian).

Frostbite is the second book in the series but since I’ve read the original books I felt confident that I would be able to follow the graphic novel. And I did. This is a gorgeous visual adaptation of the series I love. There’s a fantastic recap at the start of the book which runs down the different characters that were introduced in the first novel as well as events which took place. If you have read the novel series then you will have no problems picking up this second book in the graphic novel series and there is enough details included that I think even people unfamiliar with Vampire Academy would be able to pick up on what’s going on.

I loved this adaptation. The illustrations are beautiful – and you can tell that the artist is very familiar with the source material. These pictures are fantastically true to the original story! Plot wise – all the important scenes are included. We get to see Rose’s uneasy relationship with her mother, the danger surrounding the Moroi as well as the uneasy political situation with the vampire royalty. Dimitri is around and his slightly inappropriate feelings for Rose are evident in the few pages devoted to it. Lissa and Christian are learning how to use their powers and we get to meet a new enigmatic Spirit user named Adrian (although at times I did get Christian and Adrian confused it was clear via context who was who).

I’m delighted that I decided to check out this graphic novel series. I am absolutely going to go and get the rest of the series that have been released so far. I think this series is a must have for fans of the novels as it gives an extra dimension to the story and characters.

 

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Book Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1)

Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: Angels. Dystopia, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: May 2013 (first published May 2011)
Pages: 325
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…

My Review:

Angels have descended down to earth but they’re not the heavenly creatures people may have expected. Ruthless and lacking any trace of humanity, the Angels are ruling the world and treating humans no better than animals. When an angel takes her little sister Paige, Penryn plans to do the unthinkable. She wants to go into the Angels’ aerie – their home base – to save her. With an injured angel, Raffe, as her guide, Penryn tempts fate to save Paige and bring what’s left of her family back together.

I can understand why this book was an Internet phenomenon. Penryn is such a strong character. The angels have ruined the world. Millions are dead, modern civilisation all but demolished but there are still a few humans left struggling to exist in this new angel ruled world. In a post-apocalypse California, Penryn has been learning how to survive and taking over the parent role in her family. Her mother can not be relied upon for anything and has some strange ideas. But Paige keeps Penryn from getting too serious. Paige, although in a wheelchair after an incident when she was younger, would give up everything she had to help someone else. Penryn needs her little sister and when she’s taken, Penryn risks life and a fate worse than death to bring Paige back.

This is a book with a quest, deadly angels, magical weapons and characters I adored. Penryn is intelligent and focused – if not a little too single mindedly obsessed – with getting her sister back. The angels are ruthless and I loved how different they were from how I usually imagine angels. These angels are beautiful and breathtakingly formidable. They murder humans and think nothing of it. But they’re not invincible. They have politics of their own and a hierarchy that may not be as stable as the humans may believe. I liked Raffe the angel. He’s every bit as intimidating as his fellow angels but due to circumstances beyond his control he finds himself having to rely on a human. The dynamic of Penryn and Raffe was great to read and I enjoyed the lack of an overt romantic relationship between the two.

I really enjoyed this book and for me it lived up to the hype. The gorgeous cover, brilliant take on angels and a heroine who I wanted to read more about. The second book in the series, World After, was released a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to immerse myself once more in Penryn’s world.

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Book Review: Darkness Watching by Emma L. Adams

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Title: Darkness Watching (DarkWorld #1)perf6.000x9.000.indd
Author: Emma L Adams
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published 
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 196
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she’s losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere – little knowing that it isn’t coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life – but demons still stalk Ash, and their interest in her has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she’s looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be…

My Review:

I’ve been interesting about this book since I did a cover reveal a few months ago – books set in university have been one of my guilty pleasures since the days of borrowing Sweet Valley University novels when I was a pre-teen. Darkness Watching is a great addition to the new adult world – with a delightful paranormal element to it all.

Ashlyn has her heart set on going to Oxford. But when she starts seeing dark shadows with creepy eyes and completely blows her interview, she finds a second chance in Blackstone. A smaller university – practically unheard of for many – this is Ash’s chance to embrace college life. Parties, room mates, professors and lectures aren’t the only new things in her life – she also has to deal with the new knowledge that she’s a sorceress and the things in the shadows aren’t the scariest things she has to face.

This is one of those books that is very much about the main character finding herself and embracing her new place in the world. I loved getting to see Ash embrace the university experience and starting the newest chapter of her life. And an added bonus for me was that all the new goings on in her life weren’t precipitated by some gorgeous guy who brings the creep with him. Not to say there aren’t males around in this book – and some of them rather creepy – but for the most part it’s not a romance at heart. I found myself cheering that she has so many interests that were her own and not just ones that she had because of a boy or because her friends forced them onto her. I found her to be similar to me – but better! – and I liked getting to follow her as she discovered the Darkworld.

The demons and magic in this book is something different – and not the type that I feel like I’ve read before. I liked the ‘magical’ characters and it was interesting to see where they fit into Ash’s story. There are twists and turns – not all I was expecting – and I imagine that this series is one that’s only going to get better with each instalment.

 

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy.

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AUTHOR BIO

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Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing fantasy and paranormal for young adults. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also wrote various novels and short stories. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, she can usually be found in front of her writing desk, creating weird and wonderful alternative worlds. Her debut novel The Puppet Spell, published in 2013 by Rowanvale Books, is a fantasy tale for young adults and the young at heart, inspired by her lifelong love of the fantastical, mythology, and video games. Emma also writes supernatural fantasy novels for older teens and adults. Her next book, Darkness Watching, is the first in the upper-YA/New Adult Darkworld series, and will be published in September 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press.

Author Links:
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