Review: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Review: Firespell by Chloe NeillFirespell by Chloe Neill
Series: Dark Elite #1
Published by Penguin on 2010-01-05
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
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Also in this series: Hexbound

New Girl. New School. Old Evil. From the author of the Chicagoland Vampires novels. A new series about a boarding school filled with something worse than homework. Lily's parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn't bad enough, she's hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie's creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens. They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It's too bad Lily doesn't have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she's discovered yet...

Thoughts: Wow!

I picked up Firespell for the Debut YA Author Challenge – and boy am I glad I did! I had heard of Chloe Neill’s Adult Series, but nothing about them seemed to pique my interest. So I thought I’d test out her YA debut before I dove into the Chicagoland books.

Unlike a lot of YA out there right now, Firespell is based more around Lily and her new universe – rather than around her relationship with a boy. Although there is certainly a love interest  (and I think I am right in foreseeing a future love triangle), her relationships with her BFF Scout and her absent parents take center stage.

Although I loved the universe and whatnot, what stole the show for me was Lily.  She is insanely awesome – a sarcastic, sensitive, vegetarian, fashionista. If people call her a weirdo, she’ll just role her eyes and make some fabulously insightful comment. And her banter with Scout made me laugh out loud countless times!

Scout was another great character – a punky, funny, wanna-be-politician.  She talks tough but is an amazing softie. Lily and Scout make the perfect duo.

But gosh, there are so many mysteries left by the end of the book. And although we get a nicely wrapped up ending – no cliffhangers here – there are still so many things I want to know! I cannot wait for the next book… and the book after that…. and the book after that…

Bottom line?  This book is a must for all readers! Especially if you liked Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires Series! (BTW, anyone who compares it to the HoN series is out of their mind – completely different!)

Review: Chosen by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Review: Chosen by P.C. and Kristin CastChosen by Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast
Series: House of Night #3
Published by ATOM, St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 352
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Marked, Betrayed, Tempted

SPOILERS for previous books!

Dark forces are at work at the House of Night and fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird’s adventures at the school take a mysterious turn. Those who appear to be friends are turning out to be enemies. And oddly enough, sworn enemies are also turning into friends. So begins the gripping third installment of this “highly addictive series” (Romantic Times), in which Zoey’s mettle will be tested like never before. Her best friend, Stevie Rae, is undead and struggling to maintain a grip on her humanity. Zoey doesn’t have a clue how to help her, but she does know that anything she and Stevie Rae discover must be kept secret from everyone else at the House of Night, where trust has become a rare commodity.

Speaking of rare: Zoey finds herself in the very unexpected and rare position of having three boyfriends. Mix a little bloodlust into the equation and the situation has the potential to spell social disaster. Just when it seems things couldn’t get any tougher, vampyres start turning up dead. Really dead. It looks like the People of Faith, and Zoey’s horrid step-father in particular, are tired of living side-by-side with vampyres. But, as Zoey and her friends so often find out, how things appear rarely reflects the truth…

Thoughts: I have had such a roller-coaster ride with the HoN series. I was stunned (not in a good way) by Marked, blown away (in a good way) by Betrayed – and then I wanted to burn Chosen.

Seriously.

This was by far my least favourite book. It put the series on hold for me, and I likely would not have continued had it not been for the fact that I had already bought the rest of the series after reading Betrayed. I have to say, the books do return to the mediocre-yet-addicting quality of Betrayed… but you have to get past this thing first.

What made this book so bad was the unimaginable stupidity of Zoey. Along with this stupidity came the extraordinary stupidity of her friends – all of whom failed to realise that they were equally as dumb. In fact, the only one with any sense at all was Aphrodite… but of course no one listened to her because she is such a “poo-head.”

*sighs*

Bottom line? Read the a summary of the book on-line and then skip ahead to Untamed.

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!

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