Review: Evermore by Alyson Noel

Review: Evermore by Alyson NoelEvermore by Alyson Noel
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 306
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste…

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

Rec for people who love:  Twilight-esque romances

Thoughts:  Okay, let me start by saying that the writing in Evermore was excellent.  Alyson Noel has buckets of talent when it comes to writing.  I know a lot of people have criticized this book for being too similar from Twilight.  But honestly, I found it not similar enough!  While with Twilight, you love the book because you love the characters – I just couldn’t love these characters.

My problem was with the romance.  Ever, our heroine, was wonderful.  A bit thick-headed at times, but identifiable and in a very real amount of pain from the loss of her family.  That she then inherited a debilitating “gift” made her suffering all the worse.  It was refreshing to read about a heroine who is just as supernatural as her love interest!

But then there is Damen, the “hero”… yeah, I was not so keen on him. We never really understand his motivations – and considering his actions usually made him seem like a total asshole, I really needed some kind of explanation for his behaviour.  It was frustrating, and even Ever thought so!  Thing was, she was in love with him despite all her attempts to forget him completely.  I had no such luck!

Bottom line?  Great writing, lackluster romance.  I do plan on picking up the sequels and remain hopeful that Damen will grow on me!

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. SnyderPoison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by MIRA
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy YA, High Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Magic Study, Shadow Study

Murder, mayhem and magic…

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Thoughts: This book was out-of-this-world amazing!

This was the first pure fantasy book I have read in a LONG while, and it was a great reintroduction to the genre. Heavily plot driven – featuring a lot of death, betrayal, and random attempts of murder – focussing on a heroine who could kick ass without having an ego. Brilliant secondary characters who, luckily, got a fare share of page-time from the author. Also, the love interest? Fierce. There was some serious tension, what with the whole will-he-won’t-he!kill her thing they had going on.

Overall, amazing start to the trilogy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good plot and a great heroine!

Review: Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine

Review: Midnight Alley by Rachel CaineMidnight Alley by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #3
Published by Allison & Busby, Penguin on 2007-10-02
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Kiss of Death, Ghost Town, Bite Club

Morganville is such a nice place to live...and die. If you don't mind that sort of thing. When Claire Danvers learnt that her college town was run by vampires, she did what any intelligent, self-preserving student would do: she applied for a transfer and stocked up on garlic. The transfer is no longer an option, but that garlic may come in handy. Now Claire has pledged herself to Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. The protection her contract secures does little to reassure her friends. All of a sudden, people are turning up dead, a stalker resurfaces from Claire's past, and an ancient bloodsucker extends a chilling invitation for private lessons in his secluded home.

Rec for people who love: Buffy – aka action with a laugh and some love.

Thoughts: This series just goes from awesome to awesome.

Yet again, Caine delivers.  This book is my favourite in the series (at least books 1-5). In MA, she gets right down to business – dealing with Michael’s new vampireness, the implications of Claire’s contract and adds even more new twists along the way. Yet again, Claire is put through the ringer – and it changes her. Don’t get me wrong, she is still the Claire we all love to love, but she does a fair bit of growing up in this book.

As for her relationship with Shane, gosh.  It just gets better and better. It is hard to find a pairing where rooting for both sides just comes naturally – where you look at both sides of the relationship – but with Shane and Claire, it comes easy. It is quite a feat.

What makes this as my favourite in the series is the exploration of Claire’s intellect. Her education, and what she does with it, is pushed way past Hermione-like expectations. And let’s just say her interaction with her new teacher is… Mind-blowing.

Another thing I loved was how Caine dealt with the ever rising number of secrets that Claire is forced to keep. She hates keeping them, but knowing she has no choice, she does a really good job with giving vague answers. A definite change from the girl in the first book.

Caine also delves into the mythology behind Morganville – something that had been lacking in the first two books. Let’s just say it is more interesting than she had let on!

This book kept me up all night – again. So try to set aside a good chunk of time before you get started!

Review: Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

Review: Touch the Dark by Karen ChanceTouch the Dark by Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #1
Published by Ace/Roc
Pages: 307
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits;talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren't usually dangerous; they just like to talk; a lot. The undead are another matter.

Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she's forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection. The undead senators won't help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire—and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay.

Rec for people who love: old-school sexy vampires, and heroines you would actually enjoy spending time with.

First Line:  I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary.

Thoughts: Once I got into Touch the Dark, I really enjoyed it. It has plenty of action, hot vampires and a solid plot. But it did take me a while. After an impressive showdown to start the book, we go through a lot of character introductions that, er, drag. It might not have been quite as noticeable if it hadn’t been for the fact that Chance is introducing us to people I felt I already knew. Being introduced to Cleopatra and Jack the Ripper would likely be a bit more interesting if they weren’t, you know, Cleopatra and Jack the Ripper.

Of course, Chance did make them into more than just caricatures. In fact, making Dracula’s brother one of the main characters actually ended up setting the book apart from the vamp lit that we are currently being inundated with. Unlike some authors who seem determined to turn vampires into aliens/demi-gods/sparkley dildos, Chance is not afraid to incorporate the vamp stereotype.

Moreover, Chance has a really identifiable heroine in Cassie Palmer. I honestly haven’t a single thing to complain about with her – and seeing how hard it is to write a leading-lady that reviewers don’t want to shoot, it’s a rather impressive feat. Cassie has had some seriously horrible stuff happen to her in her short life, but she is not so fixated on getting revenge/answers that she throws away all her sense of self-preservation. In fact, she is probably the least “too stupid to live” heroine I have read in a long time.

Overall, I really did enjoy Touch the Dark. It was another keep-you-up novel with lots of action and a well-crafted plot. The slight romantic element actually got rather explicit without turning Cassie into a slut, or even dominating the plot – keeping the book very firmly out of the Paranormal Romance Genre. I am definitely getting the next three books in the series.

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Review: The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson

Review: The Scent of Shadows by Vicki PetterssonThe Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
Series: Sign of the Zodiac #1
Published by Harper Collins on 2009-10-13
Pages: 464
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.By rights, she should be dead.Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .

Rec for people who love: tortured heroines, completely unique universes, and a fair bit of blood and guts in their books!

Thoughts: I first saw this book at a second hand store over a year ago, and left it there because I couldn’t quite make out where it fell in the genre. No vampires, no witches, no werewolves. What exactly were these Shadow things supposed to be, anyhow? So I put it back, despite Kelley Armstrong’s quote claiming it would keep me up past my bed time.

A year later, same second-hand store, and they still hadn’t sold it. Marked down to 50p, I figured I could afford to give it a shot. And let’s just say, I wish I had picked it up when I first found it.

Pettersson throws us straight into the action – leaving us to work out the universe as Joanna does. It is a complicated one too, as we have zero frame of reference to go on. Put simply, this series is about a war between two superhero factions: the forces of Light and Shadow. Their battles are depicted in comic form after the fact, then sold to humans as fiction.

Had I understood this before starting, I likely wouldn’t have continued. While I appreciate the whole superhero thing, it just wouldn’t have enticed me enough to read it. But boy, would I have been wrong. Vicki Pettersson is a brutal writer. The blood, the sex, the cruelty just seeps out of the novel, unabashed and unashamed – much like Vegas itself. The setting is more than ideal for the horror of the novel, in fact, it might not have worked set anywhere else.

Joanna is a tortured heroine – for a change – and is damaged beyond belief. It makes her both tough and endearing, an odd combination to say the least. Considering the horror Pettersson subjects her to, you will be as surprised as I am that she does not spend the entire book in tears.

The action is brilliantly described, the writing nearly flawless, and the universe-building is gratifyingly natural. Joanna’s troupe is made up of very complex, unique characters – each with a story of their own. It’s a refined book, if one can say such a thing about horror, and a definite must – especially for those of you hoping to try something a bit new.

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Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri ArthurFull Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
Series: Riley Jenson #1
Published by Piatkus
Pages: 320
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races, an organization created to police the supernatural races-and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, a.k.a. assassin, Riley is merely an office worker-until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn't be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming.…

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she's going to find her brother…

Rec for people who love: Universe building as an excuse for idiotic sex.

Thoughts: Riley Jenson gets a fairly decent introduction, where she saves a bunch of humans from vampires despite the fact that she is utterly terrified. Physically strong, but emotionally normal. Identifiable. Believable.

And then the entire book goes to hell.

Instead of focusing on the fact that her twin is missing for the first half of the novel, Riley puts on a brave face and gets on with the day-to-day. Huh? Why isn’t she curled up in a ball sobbing? Why isn’t she taking off the heads of people getting in her way to find him? Why isn’t this taking up her every waking moment?

Because she is horny – that’s why.

The moon is calling to her, so she must have sex right now, and I mean rightnowmusthaveGRR. In Arthurs’s world, all werewolves spend a week a month having non-stop sex with anyone until they meet their one-true-love. Uh-huh. Sure. How very practical.

But whatever. So she is sleeping around while searching for “the most important person in her life” – I can get over that. My issue is with the, er, three (?) times Riley was forced to have sex because she was drugged/kidnapped/on a mission. Apparently, this is only slightly unacceptable in Riley’s deluded mind. Why? Because with the insane plot device that is the “moon heat” she would have been unable to say no anyways. So really, it isn’t too big a deal.

And when it’s all over, is she overcome by her desire for revenge? Nope. When she is betrayed, physically and emotionally, by people she trusted for years – does she feel the need to visit a shrink and let all her emotions pour out? Of course not – that would be completely against her lack-of-character.

Honestly. Despite 300-odd pages in her POV, I don’t know Riley. One minute she is all touchy-feely “oh gosh, I hate to kill”; the next she is eagerly dressing up as a prostitute while psychically forcing two guys to rape each other (and no I don’t care if they deserved it). What was going on in that fictional brain of hers, who knows. Although I imagine if I had, this review would have been significantly more explicit.

*sighs*

That being said, the writing itself was decent enough, and what Arthur lacked in character consistency she made up for in the snappy dialogue. Nevertheless, you couldn’t pay me to read the next book in the series.

Bottom line? No. No. NO.

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