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28 April 2013

Book Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

The mark of a good series is being able to pick it up at any point and jump in. And luckily The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa is a good series. This is a fantastic series in that respect.

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa coverAdd to Goodreads button
In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood 

She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever-and possibly end human and vampire existence. 

There's a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago-and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time. 

Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.

Source: Giveaway

5 Words: Survival, vampires, humanity, dystopia, fear.

I will confess now to having never read The Immortal Rules. When I won this copy of The Eternity Cure, I didn't even know it was part of a series. But I still enjoyed this book and understood what was happening well enough to not give up read the first book, well, first. It has made me want to read the first book, but I feel that doing so can only enhance my enjoyment of this series and help me better understand the emotions and motives of the characters.

This book was up-and-down for me. Some parts felt sluggish and unnecessary, and then others were so intense that I wasn't sure what had happened. It felt for long periods that nothing was happening and then BAM something would happen that just about blew my mind.

The best part of this book was the ending, and not because it was the end - far from it. I cannot wait to read the next book, Julie Kagawa you'd better be writing it now! That was a fantastic twist at the end, one I hadn't truly anticipated. And I so badly need to know if what I think has happened is right. 

If I have one complaint to make about this book, it's Allie's constant, constant mentions of her humanity. I'm all for a vampire holding on to some shred of their humanity - it can make them a very complex character. But Allie seemed to hark on about it every other page. For this reason I much preferred Jackal and his I'm-an-evil-monster-vampire attitude despite the hints that there's still a hint there, deep down inside even if he won't admit it. Allie's humanity, and her seeming obsession with it, made her seem like a bit of a sissy vampire, and goodness knows there are too many of them in the realm of young adult fantasy.

So, read away. It's a great book in many respects. Just ignore Allie and her humanity.

What's your favourite vampire story?

20 April 2013

Book Review: And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

Although it felt that nothing happened for long stretches of this novel, when things did happen they were executed perfectly. You may think this would lead to a boring read, but And When She Was Good is far from boring.

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman coverAdd to Goodreads button
In the comfortable suburb where she lives, Heloise is just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses her son's soccer games or school plays.

But in discrete hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams - if you can afford her hourly fee.

For more than a decade, Heloise has believed her unorthodox life to be a safe one; rigidly compartmentalized, maintaining no real friendships and trusting very few people. But now this secret life is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions about her business. Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers. Her employees can no longer be trusted. Her ex, the one who doesn't know he's the father of her son, is appealing his life sentence. And, one county over, another so-called 'suburban madam' has been found dead in her car, an apparent suicide...

Can Heloise stay alive long enough to remake her life again, and save her son? Can she really expect to leave everything else behind?

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: NetGalley

5 Words: Secrets, lies, trust, survival, deception.

The main character, Helen/Heloise (Hel?) seems so sure of herself for the majority of this book, and I would be lying if I didn't admit that the ending was the best part - but that's because Hel stopped being so superior and aloof and putting everyone down. It took her being out-smarted - seriously out-smarted - to seemingly get a grip.

When it comes to other characters, they seem a little like an afterthought. Hel's father made my blood boil and I guess that's why she is how she is. He is a nasty and selfish man who quickly engendered feelings of hatred from me, as I am sure he was meant to. Hel's mother seemed quite timid and unsure - she was so in love, but with that monster? It didn't seem to fit that she could be that naive for her whole life.

Overall I thought it a good enough read. It's not one of my favourites and for being a mystery there isn't much mystery at all, but it was nevertheless enjoyable and interesting.

What's your favourite mystery?

17 April 2013

Book Review: Undertaking Love by Kat French

Undertaking Love by Kat French is a perfect chick-lit, a book that's perfect for summer and the beach. I thought it was going to be light and fluffy, but I was wrong and it was wonderfully surprising.

Undertaking Love by Kat French coverAdd to Goodreads button
The moment love-phobic Marla Jacobs discovers that the shop next to her Little White Wedding Chapel is to become a funeral parlour, she declares all-out war.

Marla’s chapel in the sleepy Shropshire countryside has become a nation-wide sensation, but the arrival of Funeral Director Gabriel Ryan threatens everything Marla has worked for. She can picture the scene: wedding limos fighting for space in the street with hearses; brides bumping into widows; bouquets being swapped for wreaths

Marla’s not going down without a fight. She enlists a motley crew of weird and wonderful local supporters, and the battle lines are drawn. But, as soon as Marla meets her nemesis, she realises just how much trouble she’s really in. His gypsy curls and Irish lilt make her stomach fizz – how is she supposed to concentrate on destroying him, when half the time she’s struggling not to rip the shirt off his back?

Source: NetGalley

5 Words: Sweet, passionate, love, unexpected, heart-warming.

This book is a perfect chick-lit read. In the best of ways.

It has all of the right ingredients and they're mixed together in a special way which makes it stand out from the crowd.

I was expecting light and fluffy, and instead I got a passionate and well paced story which made me laugh and chuckle and almost seethe with anger. This story follows a group of people, all with their own problems and passions, and this makes the story all the more beautiful.

The conversations between friends, and between couples, flows very naturally with an understandable humour.

This story is heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, and it reminds you of what love really is, how love really feels and what love really means. There is real passion and conflict, this is not love at first sight.

I was gushing at everything between Dora and Ivan, and I shed more than one tear too.

This book makes me more glad than ever that I have found the rock that my lighthouse stands on. Have a glass of wine with this book. Or a bottle. It depends how much it makes you want to drown your sorrows. Because I sobbed my heart out.

She is more than just my guiding light. She is the rock that this lighthouse stands on.

14 April 2013

Book Review: The Liberation of Sundrian City by Ander Louis

The Liberation of Sundrian City by Ander Louiswas a great read. I didn't think it would be quite my cup of tea at first, but I really struggled to put it down and found myself thinking of it when I was supposed to be doing other things.

The Liberation of Sundrian City by Ander Louis coverAdd to Goodreads button
If ignorance were bliss, would you seek truth?

In a sheltered city that has locked itself away from the dangers of the outside world, a band of underground rebels, driven by this very question, plan to uncover the truth beyond their impenetrable wall.

Meanwhile, as he struggles to bring his own life together by solving the mysterious murder of his parents, thirteen-year-old Linus Smith will come to learn – the hard way – that he is a gifted war elephant rider, and find himself in the most unlikely place – at the crux of a liberation.

The Liberation of Sundrian City is the explosive new adventure novel by Ander Louis.

Join the Liberation!

Source: Giveaway

5 Words: Power, rebellion, attraction, control, love.

The Liberation of Sundrian City is a very fun read. It has everything you could ask for in a fantasy novel - unknown dangers, a renegade sorcerer, war elephants (fantastic!) and terrible justice.

I particularly loved the elephants, the way that almost everyone thought they could be completely controlled by a single master, that they had loyalty to specific people. The elephants added the perfect amount of spontaneity to the scenes containing them, you didn't know what was going to happen and it made for some fantastic suspense and shock.

Missy was my favourite character in this book, despite being an elephant - the personality of this crazy elephant was just wonderfully powerful.

I very much disliked Deimos and the majority of the other guards - they got their kicks out of bullying a thirteen year old boy, a child. What big, strong men they are.

The signs of the corrupt nature of Sundrian City and the deceit of all of the citizens is very subtle. The feeling of unease and corruption grows slowly, naturally.

The only part I didn't love (aside from the dick-ish guards) was the ending - it came far too soon! I could happily have read more of this story and if there is ever a sequel, I'll be happy to read it!

What's your favourite non-human character?

04 April 2013

Book Review: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

I bought The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood at The Alnwick Garden, where the gated Poison Garden really strikes you - even more so once you have read this book. Visiting the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens can only increase your enjoyment and understanding of this young adult historical tale. This is a fantastic quick read which will leave you impatient for the next installment.

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood coverAdd to Goodreads button
Jessamine Luxson lives with her father, Thomas, an apothecary, in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle. Thomas’s pride and obsession is his locked garden full of dangerous plants, which Jessamine is forbidden to enter.

When a traveler brings an orphan to their cottage, he claims the boy has special gifts that Thomas might value. Jessamine is drawn to the strange but intriguing boy, called Weed. Soon their friendship deepens into love. Finally, Weed shares his secret: He can communicate with plants. For him they have distinct personalities—and some are even murderous. From the locked garden the poisonous plants call to Weed, luring him with promises of deadly power.

When Jessamine falls inexplicably ill, only Weed’s relationship with the Poisons can save her. But Thomas is determined to exploit Weed’s abilities, even if it risks Jessamine’s life - or drives Weed to the brink of madness...

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, attraction, responsibility, , poison.

I liked Jessamine's spunk and nature, Weed's weirdness, and her father's evil plots. The characters are passionate to a flaw: Jessamine in her growing love for Weed and her need to impress her father; Jessamine's father in his obsession in knowing everything about plants, particularly those in his poison garden; and Weed with his love for Jessamine and his distrust of the poison garden. Oleander is a sly, poisonous character, which fits absolutely perfectly as that's what he is - poison.

I did get exasperated at some points, but I think that as a reader you were meant to - it added to the characters and plot.

The Poison Diaries is filled with passion and energy and a hint of the supernatural. The romance is subtle and builds slowly, the crucible in this intense story.

This book appeals to my love of all things local and tea. Especially tea. Jessamine makes her own teas and tissanes, and I smiled as I recognised the ingredients of my own mixtures. I have a pot of lavender by the front door and some lemon balm on the kitchen windowsill and I brewed up my own blend after reading.
I take my metal canister of tea off the shelf. It is my own mixture of dried lavender blossoms and lemon balm, harvested from my garden and hung in the storeroom to dry. Weed helped me hang these stalks, I think. His hands touched these tender leaves, just as they touch me.

01 April 2013

Book Review: The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh was surprisingly haunting, and had a subtle yet very much present conservation message behind the beautiful story. It's perfect reading for long sunny days.

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh coverAdd to Goodreads button
Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does she see her path to happiness.

But this is a ruthless world of avarice and exploitation, where the spoils of the rich come at a terrible human cost and powerful men will go to any lengths to keep the mines in operation. Removed from civilization and disillusioned by her isolation, Frances must choose between passion and integrity, a decision that has devastating consequences.

Source: Giveaway

5 Words: Family, hope, change, deception, conservation.

The Fever Tree is a compelling portrait of colonial South Africa, its raw beauty and deprivation alive in equal measure. But above all it is a love story about how—just when we need it most—fear can blind us to the truth.

I wasn't sure what to think when I first started this book. Frances did not appeal to me at all and she is the main character.

A couple chapters in I was frustrated by her - she opted for paints and an easel over essentials she was told she'd need for her new life. She couldn't understand Edwin's frustration at her when she arrived with no material, no sewing machine.

The whole ship journey got to me too - because this is where we meet William. William is a foul character and I know Frances lived a sheltered and naive life but really? Did she really think he was god's gift to man? So his actions on the Cape finally jolted her a little, but she still longed for him even though on the ship... Well, you should read it, it may be a spoiler if I say.

I liked the conservation messages subtly strewn throughout the text - they highlight the dangers that Africa still faces today in terms of everything being wiped out.

I loved the imagery. I could feel my skin drying, blistering, burning. And the descriptions of small pox were quite horrific. I could taste the fetid water, smell the spilled blood, feel the dust coating everything. This is powerful writing with powerful messages.

"Were there ever lions here?"
"Reitz's father shot the last one thirty years ago..."