Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Review: Mercy by Rebecca LimMercy by Rebecca Lim
Series: Mercy #1
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 288
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: Exile

Mercy ‘wakes’ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business… or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new ‘persona’ each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings. The first of a brilliant new series sees Mercy meeting Ryan, an eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also kidnapped, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity.

Thoughts: Mercy was rather stunning.  Honestly, it took me quite a while to get past the first 50 pages. I just really wasn’t in love with the main character, as she seemed rather – well – evil. Not outright, “I kill puppies” sort of evil, but certainly not nice.  But I kept going, and I am so very glad I did!

There was a point, about 100 pages through the novel, when I knew I was going to love this book: it’s when Mercy – as Carmen – sings her heart out. It was a show stopper, and it practically stopped mine.  It was just glorious- I could almost hear the music through the pages – and rather indicative of the ethereal quality of the entire novel. If I had known Mercy had this musical element, I would have made my way through those first 50 pages a lot sooner!

Although Mercy begins as a rather apathetic character, as she becomes more involved in her human’s life, I really started to like her.  She is really difficult to describe… partly because I don’t think she used to be a good “person”. She’s a self-aware adult in one way, but her lack of memory has given her room to change for the better. As she grows into her new body – Carmen – she really starts to develop into someone new.

In fact, even though this book has about 5 mysteries going on at once and a few romances that leave you begging for more action, Mercy is really all about Mercy. The singing, the murder, the hot-human!boy, and the bizarre supernatural powers are all just tangential to Mercy’s development.

I’ve read Fallen and Hush, Hush (oh, if only I were ethically capable of burning a book). Although both were Angel YA, they both lacked that otherworldly quality of angels – staring random “insert paranormal creature here” heros. I don’t mean a religious quality – I am the biggest atheist in town – but that feeling of something powerful that you can’t begin to imagine.  Mercy had that quality in spades – there was no doubt in my mind that she’s an angel. Powerful and inhuman and, often, cruel.

So, I really can’t wait for the rest of the books in this series – the nature of Mercy’s condition will make the next book very interesting.

Bottom line?  I really enjoyed Mercy for it’s tough amnesiac of a main character, it’s show-stopping choir performances, and it’s rather subtle-yet-star-crossed romance.  I’d recommend this book to fans of the Wicked Lovely series, as they both have that somewhat ethereal quality about them.

Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Review: Claire de Lune by Christine JohnsonClaire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Series: Claire de Lune #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on 2010
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from author
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Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?

Thoughts: Werewolves are the new it-boys of YA – it is the Jacob effect gone mad. But if you are looking for an it-girl, Claire de Lune will be what saves you from overdosing on all that alpha-male testosterone.

Let’s start off with what I enjoyed from Claire de Lune. The verse was a great twist on your typical paranormal story. Claire lives in a world where werewolves are known and feared – there are neighborhood watch groups and crazy gun-toting activists. And for the rather a-political Claire to discover that she is one of these “evil” creatures? It enlightened her to the dangers of those die-hards pretty darn quick.

I also adored her love interest, Matthew. He came complete with a developed social conscience – despite his father’s prejudicial ways – but without direction. One of those people who knows that something is wrong, but has no idea what to do with that information. While Claire questioned the status quo because she had to, Matthew does it because he is conscientious of suffering and injustice around him. He’s not an activist, but he has the potential for it. I knew I would love him the moment he started comparing werewolf treatment to his dislike of the death penalty!

But there were some structural things I had issues with. I worked out who the killer was the moment they were on the page. The plot was a bit too much of a set up – Claire was kept in the dark at times only so that her stupidity seemed less stupid, and so that her choices could forward the action.

Oh, did I mention my lack-of-love for Claire? She is a perfectly OK character – but her defining features go from zero-to-nothing. That is, other than being annoyingly incompetent for half of the book. It was almost as if she was being purposefully ignorant to her situation, making choices which were obviously badly thought out.

But by the end, though, Claire did start to show some gumption. She became a bit more kick-ass, taking matters into her own hands and embracing her new found werewolf-ism. I think that I will enjoy her far more in the next book of the series!

Bottom line? Good start to what could be a great series. Not the best in the paranormal YA genre, but certainly a very enjoyable book. And if you are a fellow werewolf fan, it is a must!

And check out Christine’ Guest Post about Wolves and Werewolves, and enter the giveaway for some Claire de Lune goodies!

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn ChildsForgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
Series: Fins #1
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 293
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Thoughts: Wow, is that summary ever… perky! Let me confirm – the writing in Forgive My Fins is about as cheesy and pun-ridden as its summary. Very cute, and very simple to read. If you know a Middle Grader who wishes she were a teen, well, she’d love this book.

Forgive my Fins was really quite cute. It was as Technicolor as its cover and was set in a fishy world that was extremely unique. Think The Little Mermaid, but in jeans and wearing lip gloss. Fun Fun Fun!  I really enjoyed the adorable verse and could have swum right into it, had the pages allowed!

But, God, were the characters – and plot – ever simple: X loves Y who is in love with Z (who is kinda annoying). But wait! Y sees the error of her ways after spending time with X. And they all swim off happily ever after.  The End!

Admittedly, this could be done brilliantly, but in Forgive My Fins it was just done… simply. Nothing truly bad ever happens to any of the characters, and reaching the final happy ending simply took patience. No baddies running in to ruin the day, just a girl who needed time to to come to her senses. This – along with the writing – is what made it a Middle Grade book for me.

On the other hand, Lily is actually a pretty fair (albeit fishy) representation of a typical teenager. She thinks she knows what she wants – she even claims to be in love – but she hasn’t a clue. Even though this ended with an OTP, it does remind you that not all teen love is meant to last – half the time it only exists in your head!

Bottom line? Very fun, light-hearted read.  If you are looking for something to perk you up, look no further!  Just don’t expect a serious discussion about the complete and utter decimation of the world’s fisheries… or a serious discussion about anything, really.

To those of you who have already read it: What was with that last chapter??? Bizarre.

Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel CaineKiss of Death by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #8
Published by Allison & Busby, Penguin on 2010-04-27
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Ghost Town, Bite Club

A new chapter in the New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampires saga. Vampire musician Michael Glass has attracted the attention of a big- time producer who wants to cut a demo and play some gigs-which means Michael will have to enter the human world. For this, he's been assigned escorts that include both a dangerous immortal as well as Michael's all-too-human friends. And with that mix of personalities, this is going to be a road trip from hell...

Thoughts: I remember reading that Rachel Caine had had a 6-book plan set out for the Morganville series when she started out. Kiss of Death is book 8 – and her lack-of-overarching-plan is kinda starting to show.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Kiss of Death. Caine’s verse is as addictive as ever.  I love these characters and their angst – so, really, how could I not enjoy another visit into their world? But Kiss of Death was definitely a step down from some of the other Morganville books. If I weren’t such a fan, I probably would have been less than impressed.

Kiss of Death takes place outside of Morganville. This is a first for the series which had had the characters literally confined to the city in previous books. Whilst a road trip might sound like a happy-go-lucky time for the gang, things never work out that way for Claire and co. So, there are plenty of new vamps, some kidnapping and, oh, a car chase or two.

Pretty cool… but also pretty pointless. Kiss of Death felt very episodic and monster-of-the-week. A cool monster, sure, but I couldn’t help thinking “… so?”  It was a far cry from the epic cliff-hangers of the first 5 books that literally stopped your heart.

Not to mention the most important failure: the epic lack of Myrinn. *cries softly whilst wearing vampire bunny slippers*

However, I do have hope for Morganville books of the future. Fade Out was friggin’ fantastic (and with plenty of Myrinn goodness) and managed to remain self-contained to a single book.

Bottom line? The Morganville Vampires series is fantastic – I highly recommend it. That said, Kiss of Death was not it’s greatest instalment.

Note to the UK publishers: Did something break when publishing Kiss of Death? My cover was in pieces after one light read – not to mention the book was littered with typos.  Not cool.

Review: Old Magic by Marianne Curley

Review: Old Magic by Marianne CurleyOld Magic by Marianne Curley
Published by Bloomsbury on 2012-09-13
Pages: 320
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Jarrod Thornton is mesmerizing, but Kate Warren doesn't know why.

The moment the new guy walks into the room, Kate senses something strange and intense about him. Something supernatural. Her instincts are proven correct a few minutes later when, bullied by his classmates, Jarrod unknowingly conjures up a freak thunderstorm inside their classroom.

Jarrod doesn't believe in the paranormal. When Kate tries to convince him that he has extraordinary powers that need to be harnessed, he only puts up with her "hocus pocus" notions because he finds her captivating. However, the dangerous, uncontrolled strengthening of his gift finally convinces Jarrod that he must take Kate's theories seriously. Together, they embark on a remarkable journey—one which will unravel the mystery that has haunted Jarrod's family for generations and pit the teens against immense forces in a battle to undo the past and reshape the future.

Spoiler Alert: This review has a few in it – but they are basically the facts that I wish someone had told me about before I started reading.

Thoughts: Old Magic is really damn hard to review. Because although it had a lot of elements in it that were enjoyable, it was ultimately a let down.

The main character Kate and Jarrod were relatively enjoyable, but not all that well developed. In fact, Jarrod’s main character trait was his extraordinary cowardice. Sure, that was entertaining and believable for about 100 pages – but after a while I wanted to slam his head into something hard. Because of his utter lack of spine, I found Kate’s attraction to him rather peculiar.

Despite that, I really enjoyed the first half of the novel. It is set in a sleepy town surrounded by woodlands. The atmosphere was rather dark and magical – reminding me of Need and Shiver in many parts. But then, half way through the book Kate and Jarrod time-travel back 1000 years.

Er, what? No! Take me back to that mysterious little town!

That was pretty much my only thought for the rest of the book. Curley introduces us to a dozen new characters, some rather over-the-top villains and some rather drawn-out plot. I don’t really have a problem with time-travelling in books – I just would rather it be the sole focus of the novel. Instead, I felt like I had been tossed into the poorly made sequel to the first half of the book.  One where they had to recast the leads because the script was so bad…

Bottom line? Curley is a very believable writer. And while I was disappointed with Old Magic, I shall be picking up some of her other books in the near future.

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