Review: Daughter of the Forest

July 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm (5 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , )

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Pages: 552, paperback

ISBN: 9780330424417

Publisher: Pan Australia

Date Released: November 1st, 2008 (first published 1999)

Genre: adult/ fantasy/ romance / retelling / historical

Source:  library

Premise:

A beautiful retelling of the Celtic “Swans” myth, Daughter of the Forest is a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love… To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss and terror. When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for Sorcha to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the live she has always known and a love that comes only once.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

It was about time that I started this book. I’d heard nothing but stellar reviews about this book. The fact that Marillier lives in Australia (albeit the Western part, which is literally desert)and being born in New Zealand made this even more irresistible.

When I first started this, I sort of really disliked it. My thoughts were “WTF is this? It’s so slow, nothing’s happening! I don’t care about her family! How do you pronounce that?” It takes some getting used to, because the writing is so thick and verbose. This is not a quick read. This is the kind of book you slowly savour, reading it and relishing in the beauty of the words. Everything comes to like around you, the smells and sounds of the forest, the hardships that Sorcha had to deal with, everything. By the end of the first chapter (which is 30 pages long, but feels like 300), I was loving it. I loved how the reader got to know every detail about Sorcha’s family, no matter how grizzly and dark it may be. I loved the relationships between Sorcha and her brothers, how they all felt real and different from each other, which I think is quite a feat when too many characters are introduced at once. You really get to know all the characters in such a way that they become important to you, and not only do you see a growth in Sorcha,  but in everyone else.

Sorcha is a very strong young woman; despite her gift for storytelling, she keeps silent, even when it costs her her life. She does all she can to break the spell that the Lady Oonagh cast on her brothers. She lives through her hardships, seemingly by herself, but she had Red to help her, and her brothers, who believe in her persistence and patience.

The story, based on the Celtic Swans myth, adds so much depth to such a fairytale. I absolutely love fairytales, and this one is one of the best that I’ve read so far. It still retains the magical properties of a fairytale, while having its own element.

This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. There is rape, abuse, torture. It really feels like a kick in the gut. So why read it, then, if it’s so heavy? Well, there are also moments of hope and love–both romantic love and familial love.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 4
Characters: 5
Writing: 5
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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In My Mailbox #10

June 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm (Australian, In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , )

Wow, I am really bad at this whole ‘updating often’ thing. I swear I’ve been meaning to, but books got in the way.

Anywho, In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I got quite a few awesome looking books over the week, thanks to Book Depository. They had a sale that I just couldn’t resist.

Bought:

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones; I write fantasy, so this looks like the greatest thing in the world when it comes to worldbuilding. I really can’t wait to get into this.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz; I’ve been seeing good reviews about this book everywhere, and I knew I have to get it.

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw; Does this not sound like an amazing book? The premise is just beautiful. I’m expecting marvelous things from this book.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss; This may sound pretentious, but I love literary fiction. I love the directions they take, and what they do with words, because sometimes it’s not what one expects. I like unpredictability.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray; Miss America Pageants crossed with Lord of the Flies/Lost? Oh man, what could be better? So excited for this.

Entwinedby Heather Dixon; I love me some good fairytale retellings, and I’ll do anything to get my hands on them. Plus, look at the cover, it is gorgeous. I’m a sucker for gorgeous covers.

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby; I’ve been eying this book for quite some time. Steampunk = love. How could I resist?

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter; Man, this just looks so deliciously creepy, I so can’t wait to read this.

Library:

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn; I’d been recommended this by a few close friends, and I do love a well-written historical romance.

Fruits Basket, #4 by Natsuki Takayo; I own the first 3 in this series, and really love this series. It’s cute and adorable.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell; I saw the movie, and I loved it. Hoping the book will be as cute and awesome as the movie.

The Struggle by L.J. Smith; After reading the first book, I concluded that the TV series is a million times better than the books, but I still want to finish the series, or at least see how far I can go.

Exile by Rebecca Lim; I read (and really liked) the first book. You can find the review for it here. Plus, it’s a book by an Aussie writer! There’s not nearly enough Aussie authors.

Enticed by Jessica Shirvington; Another sequel to a great book written by an Aussie author! You can check out the review I wrote to the first book, Embrace, here.

Fables: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham; This is the third volume in the Fables series, and I just love it! It’s an awesome twist on fairytales, and I just love it.

Fable & Reflections by Neil Gaiman; The 6th volume of the Sandman series, and I’m super excited to read this. 😀

What did you guys get this week? Feel free to leave a link in the comments section. 🙂

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In My Mailbox #8

May 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm (Australian, In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I got a lot of books this week. I managed to find a Borders that was closing down, so everything was 60% off. Then, my library managed to miraculously procure heaps of books. AND THEN, I decided to buy some cheap ebooks on my Kindle.

Bought

From top to bottom:

Snow by Tracy Lynn; I love the Once Upon a Time series. And this has to be one of my favourites. It has slight traces of steam/magicpunk, and it stays rather true to the story. And, thanks to the Borders sale, it was only $4. How could I possibly resist a book so cheap? Even better, I had a very had time finding the books from this series in Australia,so, I would have gotten this book even if it weren’t on sale.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst; I read this book ages ago, borrowed from the library, and loved it. (In fact, you can find my review for it here), so when I saw it on sale at Borders for $8, I had to buy it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Basilisk by N.M. Browne; I remember reading this book years ago, and loving it, so I decided to get it. It was cheap, so why not?
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

–  Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink; This book has caught my eye from the moment it arrived here in Australia, but for some reason, I’d been very hesitant in getting it. I love the cover, it has these shiny silver patterns that give it this weird feeling.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository  / Amazon
(if you get it from The Book Depository now, you get to save almost 60%! It’s not even $5 in AUS currency)

Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink; I also got the second book in the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, because it was there and it was cheap.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Fury by Shirley Marr; I’d constantly see this book in bookstores, and was always intrigued by it, but never went ahead and bought it. It looks like a really interesting book, and I love the covers. Also, at the beginning of each chapter, there’s a small picture of a mask, and I just love the concept of that. It makes me wonder about the relevance to the story.
Find it on: Goodreads
(Because it’s an Australian book, I’ve had trouble finding it online; it doesn’t exist in Amazon, and it’s unavailable on Book Depository. So if you’re interested in getting a copy of this book, you might have to search hard, or get a friend in Australia to supply you with a copy)

The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey; This looks awesome. The cover is amazing, and it’s a retelling, which I’m sure all of you know by now that they’re my favourite kind of story. I can’t wait to start reading this!
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey; Another Mercedes Lackey book that looks awesome. I think it’s about time I read some of her stuff.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Masques by Patricia Briggs; This book looks cool as. Fantasy with werewolves. Can’t wait to get this book started.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

–  Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs; The sequel to Masques, because I get addicted to series far too easily.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Saga of the Renunciates by Marion Bradley Zimmer; I love sci-fi, and apparently this has LGBT characters, which is fairly cool. Plus, it’s so big, that it kind of makes me excited. When it comes to books, size does matter. ;P
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Heritage and Exile by Marion Bradley Zimmer; A big book for a low price. This is the kind of thing I live for. 🙂
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Library:

Not only did I go overboard with books from Borders, I went nuts in the library.

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes; With the recent influx of Greek retellings in YA, I supposed that I should check out a few of the newcomers. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and the premise actually sounds pretty good.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

How NOT to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelmark; I love books about how to write, and this looks like it’d be a great, funny way to learn how not to write.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Thyla by Kate Gordon; This book is about a girl who’s found in the bush with no memory whatsoever. Plus, it’s set in Australia, and I’m a fan of those.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon (kindle edition)

Siren by Tricia Rayburn; So, I’ve been eyeing this book for months. Mermaids? Awesome as! Dark, mysterious cover? Heck yeah! I can’t wait to read this.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves; I’d heard a lot of good things about this book, and it’s finally out in Australia, so as soon as I saw this, I just had to grab it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Mice Gordon Reece; Wow, this looks awesome. A thriller that features what looks like a strong relationship between a girl and her mother.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan; The format of this book just looks amazing. It’s all set like a real dictionary, with words that are relevant to the story. I’d like to see how it pans out.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier; I read the first book of this series, Daughter of the Forest, and absolutely loved it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Search for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi; This is a Middle Grade sci-fi/fantasy book with such wonderful pictures. I really can’t wait to get into this.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Cold Magic by Kate Elliot; So, I’d heard a whole heap of good things about this book. Plus, it looks like it’s a steampunk, and I love those with all my heart.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros; I really like historical romances sometimes. And this one sounds rather exciting.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith; So, I’d recently been watching the TV series, and am really loving it. I figured I might as well read the book series.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Marked by P.C. & Kristin Cast; I’ve been hearing a lot about this series, so I guess I should see what the fuss is all about.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon
(You can get Marked on Book Depository with 60% off, which is a great deal)

E-Books

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz; I got this from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab.
Find it on:Goodreads

Blood Red Road by Moira Young; Also from S&S, I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book, so I’m excited to finally read it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Witches of Santa Anna: The Complete Set by Lauren Barnholdt & Aaron Gorvine; I got this, the first 7 books in this series off Amazon for 99cents. So, if you want seven books for a dollar, I’d recommend that you go get it now, before the offer no longer stands.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon (Kindle)

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer; I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, a retelling of The Persephone & Hades myth, but with a twist: Hades is a woman. I can’t wait to read it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon

So, that’s my haul for the week. Um, a lot, eh? *laughs nervously*

What did you guys get in your mailbox during the week? Feel free to share your links in the comments. 🙂

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Review: Wolfborn

May 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm (3 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

ISBN: 9781864718256

Publisher: Woolshed Press

Date Released: December 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / paranormal / werewolves

Source: library

Premise:

Break the curse or howl forever.

Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master – but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint’s enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.

And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever . . .

Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from:  Amazon (Kindle Only)

So, it turns out that this book is based on an old tale. And I’m sure all you faithful readers (what little I have) know by now how much I lve retellings. This alone bumps up the score for this book, even before reading it.

First up, the writing. There are some awkwardly phrased sentences, for example:

“An older woman named Lise ran the kitchens efficiently, as she had to in a place with so many mouths to feed.” -pg 6

“The sky was a pale gold colour, like those gold was backgrounds the Notzrian [fictional religion] priests put into their illuminated holy manuscripts.” – pg 189.

The second half of the first sentence feels awkward and unnecessary. The second sentence made me go”what?” several times. I mean, it’s not like I actually know what colour they mean since I can hardly compare it. The entire book is filled with similar awkward lines like that, that may have needed another pair of eyes to read over.
I can’t say that I’m a fan of the writing. Awkward phrasing aside, the writing seems to lack any unique voice and sounds rather plain. Though, despite that, it was easy to read and didn’t drag on like I expected it to.

Another issue with the writing was that there were a lot of exclamation points. Far too many to have been allowed.

There was a lot of mention of these fictional countries, but it was hard to keep track of them without a map. They ended up feeling like random words that had little meaning. It made for a disappointing read.

Now, whilst the writing wasn’t Bursztynski’s strongest point, the story triumphed with the magnificent world-building and lore. I love love LOVED the werewolf lore that Bursztynski crafter, where a wolf can only return to human form with his own clothes, and that by removing their clothes, they remove their humanness and are able to transform. It was so unique, and I found it to be amazing.

The story is the strongest thing about this book, and it is  actually quite fantastic. The story is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It has fairies, werewolves and magic, romance and political plots. Everything about the story was gripping, and I was up all night trying to finish the book. I literally couldn’t put it down because I just wanted to keep myself immersed within such a fantastical world.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about the characters. I felt very little voice and connection towards the narrator, Etienne, and his relationships witht the characters fell short. The romance between him and Jeanne did nothing for me, and it seemed fairly non-existant.

Oftentimes, Etienne would tell us something along the lines of “If I had known what would happen, I would have done this to prevent it.” For example, he says:

“If I had known then what would happen, I’d have lit a fire and cremated him!” – pg 117

Not only is it sloppy, it distracts the reader. I can understand that it’s a way to keep the reader hooked, sort of like a cliff-hanger, but it feels like a cheap shot. Readers should be hooked because of the story, characters or writing, not because of cliffhangers in the middle of each chapters.

If you want a good story, with a well-developed background and lore, then this is for you.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Guardian of the Dead

April 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm (5 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Pages: 348, paperback

ISBN: 9781741758801

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Genre: YA / fantasy / romance / mythology: New Zealand / fairies

Source: library

Premise:

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.

But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie’s circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, “You need it. It will save your soul.” Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

The story starts off really well. It sets up a creepy tone from the very beginning by mentioning a really weird murderer called the Eyeslasher (you can already guess how this guy kills their victims…). As the story progresses, it keeps its creepiness, instead of just going through phases, which is a major bonus.

The characters are interesting, and through them, the theme of sexuality is touched upon. Ellie’s sister is a lesbian, but it wasn’t taken well with her parents–to the point that they’re scared that Ellie would “catch it”, if she had stayed with her sister instead of a boarding school. I’m a bit disappointed that she doesn’t have a larger role, though.
Ellie’s best friend, Kevin, is asexual, and Ellie helps him deal with it, and supports him. This shows a lovely bond between the two of them, and makes me love their representaion.

Ellie isn’t perfect, but is always comparing herself to others. She’s never quite good enough, she thinks, and once she finds a mask, she feels better when it’s on her face, since she isn’t herself anymore. Her description of the mask on her face, after she ends up controlling someone:

“I knew it had been wrong, what I’d done to Chappell–but the adoration, the love, that felt so good. And it was something I was never going to get without the mask’s help.” -pg 237

Now, that’s a bit frightening, that the power of the mask makes her feel loved in such a way that she thinks she’d never feel it without the tool. It just shows how imperfect and flawed and real Ellie is. She’s described as a large girl, not very attractive and rather plain. This is the sort of stuff I want to read in stories, not perfect pretty girls who get the hot guy.
Ellie is also usually very passive. If someone (i.e. Mark) tells her that she couldn’t possibly understand some secret magic thing, she backs down and even apologises for being curious and wanting to help. It was sort of… tragic, and I could sort of relate to that.

Mark is a bit of a dick at the beginning of the story. He mind rapes Ellie and makes her unable to remember what he did to her. Now, as mysterious and hot that he apparently is, I can’t forgive that sort of ass-fuckery. And when Ellie realises that she’s starting to like him, that her feelings have gone beyond that of a crush, I want to shake her and remind that that he controlled her thoughts. She herself ended up mentioning that should shouldn’t love him because he “enchanted and lied” to her.
Though, regarding this, the concept of rape is discussed: Ellie herself is put into two near rape situations in the same night, and it is implied that because Mark’s father didn’t know what Reka was, the consent may have been misgiving and should not have been used. The way that Healey handles this topic is really well done, and I’m fairly impressed for the most part. The reactions are realistic, and the situations aren’t easily forgotten like in other YA’s.

This story is set in New Zealand, and follows Māori legends, which is a nice change from all these westernised myths that have gotten boring. I’d love to see more books of this type that follow legends from “obscure” places. The portrayal of New Zealand is interesting, and feels so realistic. The setting itself ends up feeling another character, which isn’t easy for most authors to do, I’ve noticed.

The plot is complicated and well thought-out. In the first hundred or so pages, it moved slowly, giving the reader slight hints. Whenever something was revealed, it came as a great surprise, and left me wanting to know more. Though, at times, it felt like I was sitting in a history lesson, and there were pages upon pages of explanations about the legends and the culture. It was slightly jarring, but the plot itself was enough to keep me from putting the book down. And sometimes, the information was interesting, even if the method of delivering it wasn’t.

Everything in the story is connected in some way, from the mask that lay unmentioned for close to 100 pages to Mark’s charm bracelet that seemed unimportant when it was first mentioned. It was all these clues that made me love this book even more.

The ending was sad and sweet and hopeful. Unfortunately, it also left it open for a sequel, but hopefully, it won’t come to that. It ended on a nice, bittersweet note, and I’m actually quite satisfied with it.

Would I recommend it? Yes, a thousand times yes. It was practically perfect.

I absolutely cannot wait for the next novel by Karen Healey, coming out in September of this year.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 5
Characters: 4
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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Review: Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

April 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm (4 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , )

Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

Pages: 304, paperback

ISBN: 9781742373003

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Date Released: May 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / romance / thriller / mystery / contemporary

Source: library

Premise:

Katherine has moved away from her shattered family to start afresh in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic, party-loving Alice, who brings her out of her shell. But there is a dark side to Alice, something seductive yet threatening. And as Katherine learns the truth about Alice, their tangled destinies spiral to an explosive and devastating finale.

An intense and addictive psychological thriller

Buy it now from The Book Depository

It was hard for me to decide if I had liked this book or not. At first, the writing was awkward and annoying. It mostly consisted of the tortured inner monologue of the main character, Katherine. There isn’t much action, and far too often, there’s the painful scrutinising over the same details, hammering it into the readers head that her sister is dead and that Katherine is suffering greatly for it. At first, it was interesting, but 130 pages in, and it’s been repeated about forty times. Ugh. It started to get boring, and I had very little sympathy for her.

There is little plot, just Katherine hanging out with her friends, Alice and Robbie, doing random things. After about 100 pages, the idea that there’s next to no plot makes it okay, since there is a great deal of character growth, for all of the main characters.

Katherine, I couldn’t find myself liking, mostly because after being stuck in her head for 300 pages, I grew tired of her inner monologue repeating how life-changing her sisters death was every few pages. Yes, Katherine, we know that it hurts and it sucks. No need to tell us so often.

Alice, I have mixed feelings about. She’s very contradictory, doesn’t have a stable personality, and is the kind of person that I wouldn’t want to involve myself with. BUT, despite all that, while we get to know her, we see what really goes on in her head. She’s a manipulative bitch (and I use this term sparingly, but really, she is one), who only lives to cause trouble for others. It’s this bitchiness that makes her character so interesting, and she fuels the story. Everything that goes wrong is done by her hand. And believe me, a lot of things go wrong in this story.

Finally, Robbie. He sort of read more like a middle-aged woman’s wet dream than a sexy 20 year old. Half the time, he’s described as being sensitive and having tears in his eyes, and it’s just pathetic seeing him like this. He’s emotional to the point where he barely contributes much to the story.

Now, this story found a place in my heart for two reasons:
1, it’s a story about rape and loss, and dealing with that loss. Katherine is bothered by guilt that it’s HER fault that her sister was raped and killed, which shows that it’s not just the rape victims themselves that are affected.
2, it’s also about betrayal, and learning to cope with this betrayal, even if it means having to do it alone.

As the story progressed, and as Katherine found herself having to deal with Alice’s horrible ways–which include the death of someone she deeply cares for–the story becomes gripping, as we delve into the past and find out what really happened back at the party that Katherine’s sister was drugged at, leading to her rape. And we find out why Alice is so intent on destroying Katherine’s life, though her reasons mightn’t be completely logical or moral.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 2
Characters: 5
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: Embrace

April 15, 2011 at 5:49 am (3 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , )

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Pages: 382, paperback

ISBN: 9780734411846

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Date Released: October 14th, 2011

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal /angels

Source: library

Premise:

Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend?

After he gives her the world’s most incredible kiss – and then abandons her on her front doorstep – Violet is determined to get some answers. But nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori – part angel and part human – and Violet is his eternal partner.

Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. She never believed in God, let alone angels. But there’s no denying the strange changes in her body … and her feelings for Lincoln. Suddenly, she can’t stand to be around him. Luckily, Phoenix, an exiled angel, has come into her life. He’s intense and enigmatic, but at least he never lied to her.

As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity… (taken from Goodreads)

Buy it now from The Book Depository

So, this may be the one angel novel that I actually enjoyed for the most part, even though I use the word ‘enjoy’ very loosely because I had a few problems with the text.

The story itself was interesting, that Violet is actually a half angel who has to fight evil angels that had been banished from heaven. For the most part, her characterisation is fairly believable, for instance, when she finds out what she really is. The angel mythology is well thought out, and is incredibly interesting. At times, though, it does get too much, as if  Shirvington is just going all out, throwing every idea at her readers, but still.

My main problem with the book were the not-so-subtle hints at rape. No, not the physical rape (to an extent) but rape as in mind-control, and practically full-on manipulation. See, there’s this one character called Phoenix, who we’re supposed to love because he’s hot and a bad bot and misunderstood because he’s an angel (I’m seeing a pattern here…) who we find out can manipulate people’s feeling, and that’s exactly what Phoenix does to Violet. He manipulates her feelings so that he hates her Angel Partner and crush, Lincoln, and to fall for Phoenix. And with her newfound passion–that he forced onto her without her realising–he sleeps with her, taking her virginity. And it turns out he was just using her. Good as!
BUT! I just have to add that Violet isn’t as passive as most other YA characters would be in her situation. When she finds out, she’s relatively mad. She’s filled with shame. She hates him for betraying her like that. Her reactions are fairly spot on for the most part, so that made my respect for her character go up.

Violet’s characterisation is pretty well done. Violet actually seems to grow a bit as the story progresses–when she embraces, it certainly shows a great level of maturity–but I can’t help but wonder if her growth and relationships–especially with her father and her supposed best friend–could be expanded. Her father is one of those ‘busy parents’ who is hardly ever present in the story, and Violet’s best friend is only there to talk about boys.

Now, the writing was fairly fast-paced and quick to read, so you can probably knock this book off in just a few days, or something, depending on how fast you read. I quite like books that are fast paced, especially in this sort of genre of un-serious books.

The story was quite predictable; I had essentially guessed everything before the halfway mark, but it was still a fun, light journey.

I’ll be eagerly awaiting getting my hands on the second book, which has been recently released in Australia.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 3

Total: 3/5 stars

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Review: Eona

April 13, 2011 at 10:28 am (5 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Eona by Alison Goodman

Pages: 448, paperback

ISBN: 9780732284947

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date Released: April 1st, 2011 (Australia); April 19th, 2011 (US)

Genre: Young Adult / fantasy / eastern mythology / aventure

Source: bought

Premise:

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the self-styled “Emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power—and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans….(Taken from Goodreads)


Buy it now from The Book Depository

Okay, so when I saw this book in stores at the beginning of April, I kind of freaked out. I thought it would release on the 19th of April, like Goodreads said. But lucky me got it early. For once, I’m glad to be an Australian book-lover.

The writing is rich and descriptive. It’s beautiful and makes you want to savour the words. I found myself constantly rereading passages because of the amazing descriptions. Goodman certainly has a way with words. From the way she describes the vibrant world that Eona lives in, rich with eastern mythology, it’s clear that she’s done her research, but there’s something more than just that that makes her world-building so magnificent.  While Eon was mainly situated within the palace, Eona takes us all across the fantastic world, through mountain passes and deserts and forests, even across the water. This is a tale of adventure, and we explore the land and its people. Every minute detail is vivid and so easy to visualise, every bit of their culture is shown to us and appreciated.
Because of the first person POV, it feels personal, and you really get to know the character of Eona. I mean, not that you need to learn much about her after Eon, but this has far less angsting over her uncertainty about uniting with her dragon. This time, Eona has to deal with not knowing how to control her powers, which cause great strife to the rest of the cast.

It seems that this book has everything: action, adventure, world-building and character growth. It also has a slight dash of romance. I’m not going to say who it is with, but all I can say that Goodman really made it work. She made their feelings so clear, so easy to believe in. There was a lot of tension in the air between them. There were many times where I practically shouted “Oh, Just rip her clothes off already!”
But not only that, she made their relationship realistic. They weren’t without hardships. They constantly mistrusted each other, and kept the truth. There seemed to be a hidden agenda with their interactions to each other. But that they were able to work through all those problems showed that they were a truly strong couple that really did deserve to be together. I mean, it’s much better than most other YA romances where their biggest problems are keeping away from each other for 18 days and a new hair style (as seen in Torment). So, this realistic romance was done quite well, especially considering the love triangle that tried to separate them time and time again.
The second person in the love triangle, though I didn’t want him to be with Eona, man, I loved their interactions the most. They were SEXY together. Rough and raw passion dripping off every word. They too had the same amount of mistrust, but in a different sort of way. They had a sort of… mutual survival thing going on (and before you complain about spoiling this for you, believe me, this person isn’t who you think it is.)

A wonderful theme explored in both this book and Eon is what it means to be a woman. Examples of this are Lady Dela, who has the body of a man, but the spirit of a woman; and now Eona, who has come to terms with her femininity–to an extent. She mentions often that she had been denied her femininity for years and has forgotten what it means to be a woman. This installment delves deeper into her psyche and offers insight to the issue of the topic, especially considering the less than stellar views of women that this world has.

Trust is also an important theme, which was also present in Eon when she lies about being a eunuch. Eona constantly finds herself in situations where she needs to keep the truth hidden, despite her dragon’s virtue being truth. I think this is an important thing to note while reading the two books.
This theme explore the concept of if you lie to someone once, they will constantly doubt you, even in times of truth, such as Ryko’s rocky relationship with Eona. Ryko still hadn’t recovered from Eona’s betrayal in the first book, and it causes strains in their relationship. Not only that, but because of the lack of truth, everyone’s relationships are on edge. This is also the cause for a major upheaval near the end of the book, which changes the course of things.

In this book, there is more history, answering a great deal of questions concerning Eona’s ancestors, the red and black folios, and why the Mirror Dragon had disappeared for five hundred years. From this also comes a mystery which keeps the reader constantly guessing. We learn a much deeper truth concerning the dragons and their dragon eyes, and from this, Eona is forced to make the greatest sacrifice.

I loved this book so much. Even though it’s only April, and I haven’t read many books released this year, I think this is the best book 2011 has to offer. I beg you all to go out and read this book. Your lives depend on it.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Writing: 5
Level of Interest: 5

Total: 5/5 stars

I believe that this is the highest score I’ve given for any book. Almost full marks! So, you KNOW it’s going to be good.

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