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: Time Riders by Alex Scarrow

Review: Time Riders by Alex ScarrowTime Riders by Alex Scarrow
Series: Time Riders #1
Published by Puffin
Pages: 432
Genres: Science Fiction YA
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, 'Take my hand ...'

But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren't rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose - to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That's why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world...

Thoughts: This book has two things that usually make me stop reading: short chapters and Nazis. They are serious pet peeves of mine because a) I am capable of an attention span greater than 5 minutes, thank you very much, and b) haven’t you heard the war is friggin’ over???

And yet… TimeRiders was awesome. Awesome in that kind of action-packed, bad-ass, yes-we-may-kill-off-your-favourite-character sort of way. This book felt like a blockbuster movie – but with a superior script. Alex Scarrow writes action scenes with handful of main characters and ten dozen extras zooming across the page without breaking a sweat – a talent I seriously admire.

Scarrow also created some fantastic villains. I read an interview of his where he described his desire to make 3D characters who – one could argue – were merely misguided. He lived up to his claim in TimeRiders, writing a villain with pure intentions that became twisted by circumstance and insanity. A villain who is trying to save the world, just in a somewhat psychopathic way.  It is a welcome relief from the typical twirling-moustache villain!

However, I found the main characters a bit flat. Although perfectly enjoyable, they were rather secondary to the plot. So much crap happened to them, but there is very little emotional payoff. I also found a couple of the time-travel sequences rather… convenient. The sequences that took place over two times – but appeared in the book simultaneously – felt somewhat contrived. Just one of the many dangers of time-travel, I guess!

Bottom line?  TimeRiders is a fun, action-packed, addictive book.  Will likely appeal to teenage boys as well as girls – just don’t expect too much emotional depth.  I think Scarrow is saving it all for the sequel.

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: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Review: Boy Meets Boy by David LevithanBoy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Published by HarperCollins on 2009-02-19
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

Thoughts: This was a lovely book.  Short, sweet and, well, lovely.

When I bought Boy Meets Boy I was somewhat skeptical.  I wasn’t sure I would enjoy a book where the world was happy! with sunshine!and flowers! But, luckily, Levithan must have had the same thought.  Because although Paul’s high school is a gay kid’s dream come true – the rest of the world in the book is certainly not like that.  What Paul considers “normal” is a luxury to everyone else – including his new boyfriend Noah.  I think this scene between Noah and Paul kinda sums it up:

“Have you always known?” he asks.  I know immediately what he’s talking about.
“Pretty much so, yeah,” I answer.  “You?”
He nods, […].
“Has it been easy for you?”
“Yes,” I tell him, because it’s the truth.
“It hasn’t always been easy for me,” he says, then says no more.
– Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, pg. 49

So while watching Paul come to the realisation that dude, did he ever luck out – there is also plenty of drama without all that pesky coming-out business.  Guys can be idiots, even when they are dating other guys.  And just because you don’t have to worry about getting bashed doesn’t mean you can’t royally screw up.  Which Paul does.  Very successfully.

I was also very impressed by Levithan’s writing style.  This is a short novel, filled with a rich and diverse cast of characters – Levithan made each of them shine bright.  Not to mention his writing style is elegant as hell and some of his ideas are out of another world.  The book opens with the boys dancing on a night out – in a bookstore.  Honestly, how brilliant is that?

Bottom line? This is a lovely, elegant tale.  Short and sweet, I was loath to put it down.

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