Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: The Selchie's Seed

I just finished The Selchie's Seed by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim. A mysterious white whale shows up near the shore one evening during a storm. The whale's flipper is torn. Fifteen-year-old Marian finds him, and along with her brother Graeme, they beg their mother to heal him. With just a bit of salve, she heals the white whale.

Marian is drawn to the whale. She can't stop thinking about him. One evening she comes home with a necklace of pearls and a shell, a gift from the white whale. Why is she so drawn to him? He brings Marian's magical heritage to light, much to her father's dismay. For they are a good Christian family. Not pagan.

I love books with faeries, especially selchies. They are a favorite of mine. This novella was amazing. It was beautifully written, and the story itself gorgeous. I fell in love with it so much I had to force myself to put it down and read it in two sittings. It's short, a bit over 80 pages, and it has lovely illustrations by Diane Goode.

It is currently out of print, and I've not been able to find it new. So if you happen to find a copy, pick it up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: Clubbing

A spoiled, rebellious London girl takes on the stuffy English countryside in CLUBBING. The crime: Getting caught with a fake I.D. at a posh London nightclub. The punishment: Spending the summer at her Grandparent's stuffy country club. But Charlotte "Lottie" Brook, best known for her mile-high platforms, an expendable wi-fi account and an unbridled passion for classic lit, will end up doing more than just serving time in country boot camp. In between avoiding the strange locals and cake decorating contests, Lottie will narrowly escape romance and end up solving a murder mystery on the 19th hole of her Grandparent's golf course.

Clubbing by Andi Watson is a graphic novel published by Minx, an imprint of DC Comics. Minx graphic novels are targeted at teen girls, and, unfortunately, was short-lived, with only twelve novels published, and leaving three unpublished (including the sequel to Clubbing). The other two were eventually published.

Charlotte is sent to live with her grandparent’s after she is caught with a fake I.D. Lottie arrives in her goth clothing (which I loved seeing), her cell phone, iPod, and other gadgets every teen girl needs. She’s different from the rest of the crowd in this town, until she meets a group of kids that she thinks she’d fit in with. When she and hottie Howard stumble upon a corpse, Lottie suspects her almost friends.

Part of this novel is cute and funny and part is completely ridiculous. However, I really enjoyed reading Clubbing, and the art was fantastic. While this book is no longer being printed, you can still find it at comic book stores and Amazon.

Book Review: Ironside

A Modern Faery’s Tale

In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben's coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing -- her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can't see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn't exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth -- that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother's shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears.

Ironside is the conclusion to Holly Black’s Faery trilogy and direct sequel to Tithe. It brings together Kaye, Roiben, and Corny from Tithe and Luis from Valiant. Roiben finds himself leading the Unseelie Court. And his love, Kaye, is in danger. To keep her safe, he gives her an impossible quest. As all fans of faery fiction know, faeries can’t lie. Her quest is to find a faery who can lie.

Along the way, Kaye ends up telling her mother who she really is. A faery changeling. Resulting in yet another quest… to find her mother’s real daughter who has been hidden in faery all these years. This leads her back into the dangerous world of Faerie, as she becomes a pawn of the Seelie queen.

Ironside, named for the faery's term for our world, is even more exciting than Tithe and Valiant, with even more twists and turns. When I finished this one, I dubbed it my favorite of the three. But, later, I adjusted that, placing it in second place (just under Valiant). But, regardless, it’s an excellent conclusion to an excellent trilogy, and I highly recommend all three of them. As well as anything and everything else written by Holly Black.

Book Review: Valiant

A Modern Faery’s Tale

When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

Valiant by Holly Black opens with an introduction to Val and the life she lives with her mother… who is sleeping with Val’s boyfriend. She runs off and finds herself surrounded by new friends who all live together within the subway system: Luis, Dave, and Lolli.

Luis has “the sight” and years prior he was blinded in one eye by a faery simply because he was given the ability to see them. That’s only the beginning of this scary world Val is brought into. Dave runs errands, delivering a substance called “Never” to strange beings. A few of them decide to try the Never themselves, and while on this mysterious drug, they find themselves in Ravus’ home, the troll who makes the Never.

Val ends up trapped delivering the Never for Ravus, in exchange for Lolli’s freedom. While on a delivery, she comes across a dead mermaid. Poisoned. By the Never… Is Ravus behind it? Or one of Val’s friends? Or someone else entirely? But it might not even matter who is to blame when caught up in such a dangerous world.

While in the same series as Tithe, this novel involves a whole new set of characters. And I loved this one even more than the first. It’s more or less a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, as Val falls for Ravus. I love both Val and Ravus, and the romance blossoming between them.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Tithe

What belongs to you but others use it more than you do?

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms -- a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Newcomer Holly Black's enormously powerful voice weaves teen angst, riveting romance, and capriciously diabolical faerie folk into an enthralling, engaging, altogether original reading experience.

Tithe by Holly Black tells the story of Kaye, a teenage girl who has always been different. She grew up having three imaginary friends: Spike, Gristle, and Lutie-Loo. Only they weren’t imaginary. They’re faeries. Not the sweet, cute little faeries that you see in children’s fairy tales. But real faeries. Scary faeries.

When Kaye meets another faery, Roiben, she saves his life, thus earning the knowledge that is his real name. And she is pulled deeper into this dangerous world. She finds herself in the middle of a faery war, between two powerful courts: Seelie and Unseelie. And it becomes her job to save a human from being sacrificed to the Unseelie court.

This was my first YA faery book, and I read it for the first time about four years ago. To be honest, I had a bit of trouble getting into it. It’s a bit grittier than what I’m used to. I didn’t really relate to Kaye. But I enjoyed Corny and Kaye’s friendship with him. I wasn’t a huge fan of Roiben either. Regardless, I quite enjoyed this novel. The bizarre world of faery is certainly intriguing, and Holly Black did an amazing job of describing it. I absolutely adored Lutie-Loo. And I have to say my favorite scene was the part on the carousel.

If you haven’t read Tithe, what are you waiting for?

Short Story Review: Love Struck

Sure, love is hell. But it’s totally worth it.

In these supernatural stories by five of today's hottest writers—Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely), Scott Westerfeld (Specials), Justine Larbalestier (Magic or Madness), Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere), and Laurie Faria Stolarz (Blue is for Nightmares)—love may be twisted and turned around, but it's more potent than ever on its quest to conquer all.

From two students who let the power of attraction guide them to break the hard-and-fast rules of their world to the girl who falls hard for a good-looking ghost with a score to settle, the clever, quirky characters in this exciting collection will break your heart, then leave you believing in love more than ever.

"Love Struck" is Melissa Marr's contribution to the anthology Love is Hell. Alana leaves a party on the beach and meets Vic, a hot guy with dreadlocks. He scares her. And the moment she gets away from him, she meets Murrin, another hottie. Both offer her their pelts, and it's then that she realizes that she met two selchies. Both of whom try to trap her. Selchies (or selkies) are seal people from folklore.

In all of the stories she's heard, it's the selchies who are trapped. But she realizes that it's the other way around. It's the selchies, the fey, who trap humans. Can either of them be trusted? She's going to have to figure out which one is more trustworthy and hope she picks the right one.

I love this story. And one of the selchies in this story is my favorite male character that Melissa Marr has written. While it's not set within the Wicked Lovely series, it is faery, so it very well could be set in that world. One of the things I find most interesting about this story is the flip from what I usually hear. A selchie woman's pelt is stolen, and she is stuck with the person who stole her pelt, until she can find it and escape. Not only is it the men in this story that are selchies, but they're the ones doing the trapping. Which makes complete sense to me. They fey are magical and cunning, and it seems more likely that they would do the trapping instead of being trapped.

Be sure to check this story out. Don't want the anthology? You can find "Love Struck" by itself in ebook form.

Book Review: Brighid's Quest

Torn between the possibilities . . .

Fleeing her centaur clan's increasingly militant beliefs, Brighid Dhianna has begun to find peace and acceptance among the humans of Clan MacCallan. Still, she agrees to leave her newly formed friendships to guide her clan chieftain's grieving brother home.

As she journeys, Brighid discovers that the long-dormant Shaman blood that runs so thickly in her veins will no longer be silenced. As seductive new powers begin to beckon, Brighid glimpses a future that is more impossible -- and more magical -- than any she could have dared to imagine.

But when tragedy summons her back to the Centaur Plains, Brighid must make a decision that will affect not only her friendship with the humans, but the centaur herd and indeed the world. For the Great Goddess Epona has set her on a new path that demands everything she has to give.

When the whole world is turning to her for help, healing the heart of a warrior doesn't sound so daunting . . .

Brighid's Quest by PC Cast picks up shortly after Elphame's Choice ended.  We met Brighid in Elphame's Choice. She is a strong centaur huntress of Clan MacCallan. While she was very good friends with Elphame, she bumped heads with Elphame's brother, Cuchulainn. When Cuchulainn goes off to kill the rest of the Fomorians, Brighid follows along to help him.

I enjoyed this novel even more than it's predecessor. As Brighid and "Cu" go on this journey they find themselves enjoying each other's company, making a complete 180 from how things were in Elphame's Choice. I enjoyed reading their romance and adventure. Brighid is given the chance to become High Shaman to the centaurs. And after denying her shaman blood for so long, this choice is huge.

Many new characters are added to this already large cast, including Ciara... one of the large group of New Fomorians. Book three in this series was supposed to be Ciara's Destiny. It was put on hold to finish the "Divine" trilogy and then again with The House of Night series. But I'm holding out hope that it'll be published. (I've been waiting five and a half years.) 

Definitely read this series. You'll love them!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Book Review: Elphame's Choice

I was marked from birth as belonging to the Goddess Epona--but that didn't make my life easy.

Because of my "blessings," I was set apart, worshipped, unable to make real connections with others. Then came the Feeling, and with it a glimpse of my destiny. It led me to the MacCallen castle of legend, deserted since the terrible Fomorian war.

I followed the wordless call to breathe new life into a place long dead, but I didn't realize there were dark remnants of the war lingering in the nearby forest--victims and survivors who remained hidden. Others marked as different, powerful. Feared.

My choice was now twofold. I could keep to the happiness and safety of my newfound home, or I could choose a path that led to something more terrible, more dangerous, more thrilling than anything I'd ever expected.

And in that future I might never be alone again. . .

I read Elphame's Choice by PC Cast for the first time about six years ago. It was the fourth book I had read by her and my favorite of those four. Elphame is marked by the goddess Epona. And her mother before her was also marked. Her father a shape-shifting, shaman, centaur. Being half human/half centaur, she resembles a satyr. Being touched by her goddess, she is worshiped by all in her land. She lives in the world of Partholon, a mix of Grecian and Celtic mythology. This is the world of Partholon over a hundred years after the events in Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, and Divine by Blood.

Elphame sets off on a journey, which takes her to MacCallen Castle where part of the Fomorian war took place (in the Divine trilogy). The castle was destroyed in this war against the Fomorians, a group of bloodthirsty creatures (kind of a mix between vampire and gargoyle). So Elphame and her group work at restoring the castle to it's former beauty. She befriends the centaur Brighid and a healer named Brenna. I enjoyed all three of these characters and their friendship.

Elphame's brother, Cuchulainn, has a premonition that she will find her life mate while on this mission. She meets Lochlan, a half human/half Fomorian, and falls for him. Can Partholon accept this race of New Fomorians after what the Fomorians did a century earlier? I really enjoyed Elphame and Lochlan's romance, and even more than that I enjoyed Cuchulainn and Brenna.

When I read this book, it was published by Luna and placed in the adult sci-fi/fantasy section in stores. Since then, with the success of The House of Night books, it has been re-published by Harlequin Teen and placed in YA... without any editing. It surprised me as there were a few rather spicy scenes, and it's definitely not for the younger teen crowd. If you enjoy fantasy, be sure to check this one out!

Book Review: The Awakening

You don't have to be alive to be awakened.

Chloe Saunders is a living science experiment—not only can she see ghosts, but she was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. She's a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control, which means she can raise the dead without even trying. Now Chloe's running for her life with three of her supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and they have to find someone who can help them before the Edison Group catches them.

Or die trying.

Chloe and her friends escaped from Lyle house, but they didn’t get far. The Awakening picks up right where The Summoning ends. Chloe is locked in a cell, separate from her friends. She knows one of them is dead, but what about the other four? Have they been captured? Are they dead too?

In this second installment of The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong, Chloe and her friends learn even more about the experiments that were done on them. They continue trying to evade The Edison Group and capture. Things heat up between Chloe and Derek, while Tori and Simon deal with being of rival races. One of the wonderful things about this series is that even while all of the characters are supernatural, they deal with the same things teens do in our world: relationships, speech difficulties, diabetes, etc... The characters are interesting and fun and Kelley's storytelling is amazing.

Being the middle book in a trilogy, it’s a bit slower than The Summoning, but leaves you excited for The Reckoning. Be sure to check out all three!

Book Review: The Summoning

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

The Summoning marks Kelley Armstrong’s debut in Young Adult fiction. The Darkest Powers trilogy is set in the same world as her famous adult series The Women of the Otherworld. And if you’ve read those, then you can guess which kind of supernatural our main character is.

That’s right… Chloe Saunders is a necromancer. She can see and talk to ghosts, which means – unfortunately – they can see and talk to her as well. One of the interesting things about necromancers in this world is that it never (except in 1 family) passes down the line to each child. So when she says she can see ghosts her father doesn’t know what to do. She is sent to Lyle House, a home for troubled teens. AKA teens who are just coming into their supernatural powers.

If you love Kelley Armstrong’s adult series and/or love YA paranormal, definitely check out this series.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Short Story Review: Dream Dark

When Link joined his best friend, Ethan Wate, on a quest through a mysterious network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, he knew the journey would be dangerous. But returning home to Gatlin, South Carolina was just the beginning...

Wounded during a climactic battle, Link discovers that tending his injuries won't be as simple as visiting a doctor and that healing his arm should be the least of his worries. For being bitten by a Supernatural does more than break the skin -- it changes a person, inside and out, turning Link into someone more and more like the dark creature who injured him.

In this never-before-seen short story by New York Times bestselling authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, readers witness Link's heart-racing transformation. Dream Dark is set before the much-anticipated third Beautiful Creatures novel, Beautiful Chaos, and as a special bonus includes an exclusive sneak peek at the first five chapters.

I loved Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, so when I found out about a short story that sits between book two and three, I preordered it instantly. “Dream Dark” was short, but lots of fun. It’s the story of Link, or should I say Linkubus, after the events in Beautiful Darkness.

It was told through Ethan’s voice, and since he isn’t in it much, it was told much different than a regular first person story. Ethan told Link’s story, as Link told it to him. To be honest, I never really paid much attention to Link. I love Ethan. He’s one of my favorite males in all of YA. And because of him, Link was invisible. Poor Link. But in this story, Link is the main character. There’s no way for him to be invisible. And it made me really like him. Now I want to go back and re-read this series. I want Beautiful Chaos even more now.

Whether you’ve read this series or not, “Dream Dark” is a fun short story.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Frostbitten

Meet the smart, sexy — supernatural — women of the otherworld.

For Elena Michaels, being the world’s only female werewolf has its advantages, such as having her pick of the Otherworld’s most desirable males. And she couldn’t have picked a more dangerously sexy and undyingly loyal mate than Clayton Danvers. But now their bond will be put to the ultimate test. A werewolf more wolf than human and more unnatural than supernatural—a creature whose origins spring from ancient legend—is hunting human prey, and Elena and Clayton must track the predator deep into Alaska’s frozen wilderness.

But the personal stakes are even higher. Either Clayton or Elena has been chosen to become the new Pack leader, and every wolf knows that there can be only one Alpha. The couple have always been equals in everything. Now, when their survival depends more than ever on perfect teamwork, will instinct allow one of them to lead and the other to follow?

Elena Michaels returns to narrate book ten of the Women of the Otherworld series, Frostbitten. It begins as she chases a mutt, Reese Williams, a werewolf from Australia. She and Clay follow him to Alaska. Naturally, he’s afraid they want to kill him. When in fact they want to protect him.

Also in Alaska… wolf killings. More specifically… werewolf killings. Nick, Antonio, and Jeremy all make their way to Alaska, so the pack can work together to put a stop to the killings. But what they find there aren’t just werewolves, but something similar. Is it a new type of supernatural? Or a supernatural that predates werewolves, who’ve been hiding all this time? The Otherworld continues to grow and expand, adding new characters and races.

While I enjoyed this installment more than Hope’s stories, it was far from my favorite. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Elena or Clay. Both are considered favorites to many of Kelley’s fans. But, regardless, the book was written by Kelley Armstrong, and that means wonderful writing, interesting, fast-paced storytelling, definitely not to be missed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: The Centaur's Daughter

Abisina had found a home in Watersmeet – the community her father led until he was killed by the evil White Worm. But now, Watersmeet is as divided as the home she fled as an outcast. The land faces a new threat, and an uneasy alliance between the humans and the creatures will have to be formed to survive. If Abisina doesn’t become the leader that Watersmeet needs, she may lose everything. But can she take her father’s place? This powerful and moving fantasy deals with timely issues about identity, prejudice, and war. It is the sequel to Watersmeet. You can read chapter one here.

I enjoyed The Centaur’s Daughter by Ellen Jensen Abbott even more than Watersmeet, the first book in this trilogy. In Abisina’s homeland, she is outcast for being dark skinned and dark haired. The only reason she is allowed to live is because she is the daughter of a healer. Dwarves, centaurs, fauns, and the like are feared. Abisina had fled from her homeland to Watersmeet, a wonderful land where people of all colors (and races) live in harmony. Along the way her life is saved by dwarves, and she learns that not all creatures are meant to be feared. Except the centaurs she runs into that try to eat her

Once in Watersmeet, she finds her father, the leader of this land… and a centaur. He’s a shapeshifter, and switches between man and centaur. Just when things start to go really well, a war comes upon them, leaving them leaderless, which is where The Centaur’s Daughter picks up. Even with their new leader, they’re falling apart. They are overwhelmed with refugees and leaving to forage becomes too dangerous. Abisina and her closest friends need the help of those in the southern lands. So she makes the dangerous trek back near her homelands.

Despite the fact that this series is fantasy, it relates to real life a lot. Abisina, like any teenager, is lost, trying to find out who she is. She lives in a world where she is treated unfair. Because of her dark skin, she is called “dwarf dirty.” A phrase used similarly to “mudblood” of Harry Potter and any derogatory term in our world. And war… something that has happened in most, if not all, countries at some point in history.

Ellen Jensen Abbott grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia and is a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, both inspiration for this wonderful trilogy. But, as with CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, she also found inspiration in centuries old folklore and mythology. If you’re a fantasy lover, then you’ll enjoy these. I can't wait for book three!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Ballad

A Gathering of Faerie...

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James' musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

Ballad is Maggie Stiefvater's follow-up to Lament. And if Lament was amazing then I'm not even sure how to describe Ballad. Out of all five books that I've read, Ballad is my favorite. James and Deirdre have left their homes to live at a school for talented musicians.

James' amazing bagpipe music attracts the attention of Nuala. She is a faery and a muse. While giving inspiration, she also feeds on the creative energies of humans. James' fondness for Deirdre lessens as he becomes more attracted to Nuala.

Nuala has been around for a long time, dying and being reborn. She has often caught the eye of a human, but not until James as the attraction truly gone both ways. Both Dee and Nuala are in danger. Which one will James save? Or can he save them both?

Ballad is my absolute favorite book by Maggie Stiefvater, and the last time I met her, she said this was her favorite as well. (Although, I think that has changed with The Scorpio Races.) There's really nothing I can say to express just how incredible I think it is. And if I tried it would probably come out in an unflattering, fangirly way. I loved James. He was sweet and charming, and I loved reading his romance with Nuala. I liked Nuala from the start, even when I was unsure if she should be trusted.

Both Lament and Ballad were beautifully written, and I can't wait for more faery books from Maggie Stiefvater.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Lament

The Faerie Queen's Deception...

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky—and equally dangerous—dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen's sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren't so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn't exactly what she had in mind . . .

Lament is a dark faerie fantasy that features authentic Celtic faerie lore, plus cover art and interior illustrations by acclaimed faerie artist Julia Jeffrey.

Maggie Stiefvater's debut, Lament, introduces us to Deirdre Monaghan, an amazingly gifted musician. Her instrument of choice, the harp. The biggest problem Deirdre is facing is her shyness which affects her ability to play in front of others.

Except... well... she only thinks that's her biggest problem. She's a cloverhand. This means that she's gifted with the sight. She can see faeries. Still... that's not her biggest problem. The problem would be the two faery assassins out to get her: Luke, a soulless faery, and the dark faery, Aodhan. Both are ordered to find and kill her. Why? Deirdre's music is starting to attract the attention of the faeries.

I love books about faeries, but I've become quite picky about them. I prefer that they stay true to old faery lore. And this one does, specifically Celtic lore. Maggie's writing is absolutely beautiful. The way she pieces the sentences together is almost lyrical.

Deirdre finds herself drawn to Luke, while her best friend, James, has fallen for Deirdre. Soon she finds herself stuck between both guys. I'm generally not a fan of love triangles. And I've always been able to find a clear frontrunner. But not here. I enjoyed both Luke and James, and I was unsure of who to root for. They were both great.

Her Wolves of Mercy Falls books are very popular. And I've read all three. It's my opinion that the faery books are even more incredible than wolfy ones. So I can only say read them and see for yourselves. Also, if you ever get a chance to meet Maggie at a signing, go!

I met Maggie shortly after Lament's release. This is when it was only available with the grey cover and no one had even heard of Shiver. The signing was in Baltimore, and I was the only one there. A few people stopped by to check out the book, but I was the only one hanging around the table. We talked, she played her harp, and I felt like a creeper. Haha! But she assured me my "stalking" was okay. I've gone to a few signings since, and she is hilarious!

Don't forget to check out her website and her blog. There is some amazing music written and performed by Maggie. And seriously check out her book trailers. She is very multi-talented.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Hush, Hush

A Fallen Angel... A Forbidden Love...

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along. 

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Hush, Hush is Becca Fitzpatrick's debut novel, and the first of her fallen angel series. The book starts by introducing the main character, Nora Grey, and her BFF, Vee, who couldn't be more different. Nora isn't interested in the boys at her school... until new kid, Patch, transfers.

But Patch isn't like the other boys. And not just because Nora is drawn to him. He's a fallen angel. He appears to be stalking Nora. And she's not sure if that makes him good or bad. She wants to trust him, but she isn't sure she can.

Nora Grey is about as interesting as her name. I will say that she's kinda like I was in high school. I was always trying to blend in and disappear. But I wasn't the main character in a book. So while I liked her, I was often bored with the storyline.

Enter Patch. If you read my Mortal Instruments reviews you know how I feel about Jace. My opinion of Patch is even lower. I didn't like him. I didn't trust him. His constant sexual innuendos weren't cute or funny. Maybe if there had been less. But several on every page was too much.

I grade my fictional boys like I do real boys. Patch is cocky and arrogant. He enjoys being a "bad boy". Pretty much everything that turns me off. I know disliking Patch is the odd opinion. Sorry guys... I have book two, Crescendo, on my shelf at home. Hush, Hush left me interested enough to pick up the sequel, but I'm not really inspired enough to read it. Maybe one day...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: City of Glass

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters—never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City—whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of bestselling series the Mortal Instruments.

City of Glass is the third installment in the Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Jocelyn Fray is still in a magically-induced coma, and Clary and Jace travel to the City of Glass in the hopes of saving her. Clary uncovers more and more about her family’s history and ends up coming face to face with her father. The evil Valentine.

I enjoyed this book much more than the previous two. It was less predictable and I didn't hate the main characters, Jace and Clary, as much as in the past. Jace was more caring and Clary less whiny. Simon continues to be my favorite character. I love his scenes with Maia. I’m definitely rooting for these two to get together.

As it turns out, this is yet another trilogy is continuing with three more books. Basically, there are two trilogies in a series of six books. City of Fallen Angels recently hit shelves. And don’t forget to check out book one in The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Angel. It’s set in the same world, only many years prior to The Mortal Instruments.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Review: City of Ashes

As readers of series starter City of Bones already know, teenager Clary Fray is a Shadowhunter, a demon slayer who has the gift (?) of spotting Downworlder werewolves, vampires, and faeries. She is also an adolescent in an abnormally dysfunctional family: Her mom is in a magically induced coma and her father is probably insane and undoubtedly evil. All of which places Clary in situations that would challenge even the most talented average American girl.

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare picks up right where City of Bones leaves off. Clary is a Shadowhunter whose job, along with Jace, Alec, and Isabel, is to hunt Downworlders. Downworlders include vampires, werewolves, faeries, and a number of different types of demon. As if that isn't enough her mother is in a magically induced coma and her father is likely the big baddie.

One thing I enjoyed more about this book was the faeries. They weren't really in City of Bones, but here we get to see the Seelie Court. Another is Simon the vampire. Even better than Simon the human. And he wasn't panting after Clary as much here. A big step up for him.

Much like the first, it was terribly predictable. The writing wasn't that great. I hate Jace and Clary even more. But Cassandra Clare still managed to write a novel that I can't put down. It's fast-paced and exciting and left me begging for City of Glass.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: City of Bones

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

City of Bones is Cassandra Clare's debut and book one of The Mortal Instruments. Our main character, Clary Fray, finds herself a witness to murder by three teens covered in strange tattoos. These teens, Shadowhunters, are invisible to humans, so why can Clary see them?

Jace, Isabel, and Alec are Shadowhunters who protect the world by killing demons. Clary has questions, and the only person who can answer them has been kidnapped. She and her friend, Simon, are pulled into this new world that neither knew existed. And now it's up to her, and her new friends, to find her mother and find answers to her many questions.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The writing itself was only okay, but it was fun, if not too predictable. I was not a fan of Clary. She was much too whiny. And Jace, the main love interest and second main character, was a d-bag. So it says something for the story that I can enjoy a book while hating the two main characters. Simon was crush-worthy. And I enjoyed Isabel, Alec, and Max... three siblings of the family who has more or less adopted Jace. And Magnus, the warlock, was a lot of fun.

As soon as I finished this one, I grabbed book two, City of Ashes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review: Troll Blood

The dramatic and gripping conclusion to Katherine Langrish's highly-acclaimed TROLL trilogy. When seafaring traders, Gunnar, and his sword-wielding son, Harald Silkenhair, land in Trollsvik, looking for crew to join their journey to Vinland (North America), Hilde is desperate to join the ship. She begs her parents to let her go as Gunnar's wife Astrid's companion, and when Peer agrees to go and look after her, her parents reluctantly agree. But Gunnar and Harald are dangerous men. Harald has killed a man, and Gunnar has been cursed and is losing his wits in fear that the dead man's ghost is following him. Harald has an uncontrollable, raging temper, and a perilous rivalry develops between he and Peer. By the time they finally reach the shores of Vinland, the settlement is looking less of an attractive proposition. And that's before they meet the "Skraelings" (the Native American people) and the terrifying Jenu -- the cannibal giant with a heart of ice! Action-packed, suspense-fuelled and with a wonderful cast of characters, Troll Blood is a truly rip-roaring read.

Troll Blood is - sadly - the conclusion of the Troll trilogy by Katherine Langrish. Hilde is offered the chance to sail across the ocean. After much begging and Peer's offer to go with and look after her, her parents agree. And soon they are off, sailing on a Viking ship.

Gunnar and Harald, who lead the crew, are dangerous men. Harald is a killer, and Gunnar is losing his mind, fearing a ghost is after them. And when a rivalry erupts between Harald and Peer, things only continue to grow worse.

This book is even more action-packed than the previous two. That being said, it's my least favorite of the three. That seems to be the odd opinion. I love Peer even more. Both he and Hilde are more grown in this novel. And I rooted for this couple even more. But I can't tell you if Hilde realized how wonderful Peer is or not. You'll have to read it for yourself.

Unfortunately, these books aren't on print in the US currently. So you'll have to either scour used book stores or order the omnibus from the UK. It's titled West of the Moon. Trust me, it's worth the extra shipping charge.

And be sure to check out Katherine Langrish's blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles. Her Fairytale Reflections series is fantastic.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Troll Mill

Fifteen-year-old Peer Ulfsson is haunted by his past. Forced to live with his evil uncles under the eerie shadows of Troll Fell, he nearly fell prey to their plan to sell children to the trolls. Now Peer lives with his friend Hilde's family, but can he ever truly belong? And will Hilde ever share his deeper feelings?

One rainy night, Peer watches in shock as his neighbor Kersten pushes her baby daughter into his arms and then disappears into the sea. Rumor says that Kersten is a seal woman who has returned to her ocean home, and the millpond witch, Granny Green-teeth, seems intent on taking the "seal baby." Peer also discovers that the mill, abandoned when his uncles joined the troll kingdom, is running again — all on its own?

With angry trolls, mysterious seal people, a mischievous house spirit, and three unusual babies in the mix, Peer and Hilde have their hands full and more! Katherine Langrish returns to the magical world of her acclaimed debut, troll fell, in this second story set in an extraordinary land by the sea filled with Viking legends and lore.

Troll Mill is Katherine Langrish's sequel to Troll Fell. When we last left Peer and Hilde, they had rescued the twins from the horrible trolls. And Peer's uncles became trolls themselves. No surprise. They certainly have the personality for it.

Peer has moved into Hilde's home. While this is the closest thing he's ever had to a family, he's not sure he fits in. His growing attraction to Hilde only goes one way, much to his disappointment.

Kersten, a neighbor, is rumored to be a seal woman. A selchie. And one evening she passes her newborn daughter to Peer before leaping back into the ocean. Granny Greenteeth who lives in the pond at Peer's uncles' mill wants the "seal baby". And the Nis is sure terrible things will happen if the family keeps her.

We return to this world of Viking lore with further adventures of Peer and his would-be love Hilde. I rooted for them even more in this novel. But Hilde just can't see what's right on front of her. Peer went through a complete transformation, no longer a scared and abused little boy. He's more grown and mature, and he wants to be the kind if man girls like Hilde dream of.

I enjoyed Troll Mill even more than Troll Fell. It was faster-paced, as we're already familiar with this world. Characters I fell in love with are back and better than ever. And it left me dying to read Troll Blood, the conclusion to this series.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Review: Troll Fell

Legend tells of a secret kingdom... and a horde of gold...

A secret kingdom of trolls, guarding their legendary gold, lies in the mysterious shadows of Troll Fell. It is to this eerie and dangerous place that Peer Ulfsson must go after his father's sudden death, to live with his greedy, bad-tempered uncles, Baldur and Grim.

When Peer discovers his uncles' terrible plan to capture the gold by selling human children to the trolls, he has to bury his fears and find a way to stop them. He has only his bravery, his wit, and two new allies -- a daring girl looking for adventure and a mischievous house spirit looking for a good meal. Their story will become part of the lore of this extraordinary land by the sea.

Troll Fell by Katherine Langrish is the first book in her Troll Trilogy. It is full of wonderful Nordic myth and folklore. The main character, Peer Ulfsson, lives in a mill with his two uncles after his father's death. Grim and Baldur aren't interested in anything except Peer's money and using him as a servant. He's beaten and often left without food. But he makes a friend in Nis, an unpredictable and sometimes ill-tempered house spirit.

Later, he befriends the girl who lives at the farm near Peer. Hilde is a strong and brave young girl who is a wonderful contrast to Peer. She has two younger siblings, twins Sigrid and Sigurd, and the three live with their parents. Also near the farm is Troll Fell. The trolls that live here are cruel, and they've joined in a deal with Peer's uncles. The uncles plan to steal their gold while selling human children. And it's up to Peer and Hilde to rescue her younger siblings and set things right.

This adventure is truly an enjoyable read. The use of Norse folklore creates a wonderful backdrop for Peer's story. Peer is a very sympathetic character. You can't help but take his side. And his interactions with Hilde are fun. You can see a type of romance between these two early on.

I read this book for the first time a few years ago. And it's just as good the second time around. The moment you put it down you'll want to pick up book 2, Troll Mill.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: Living with the Dead

Meet the smart, sexy — supernatural — women of the otherworld.

The men and women of the Otherworld live unseen among us. For the most part, mere mortals never suspect their existence—and that’s the way they want it. But now a reckless killer has torn down the wall between our worlds, trapping one very vulnerable, and very mortal, woman in the supernatural cross fire.

Robyn Peltier moved to Los Angeles shortly after her young husband’s sudden and unexpected death. Her hope was that her hectic new life as the PR consultant to a spoiled celebutante would provide a distraction from her grief. But when her client is murdered, Robyn finds herself on the run as the prime suspect. And as more bodies pile up around her, it seems only her friend, tabloid journalist Hope Adams, is on her side.

But Hope and her somewhat spooky boyfriend Karl know it’s just a matter of time before Robyn is caught. For she’s gotten herself in the middle of a turf war between two Otherworld races who’ll spill any amount of blood—human and inhuman—to protect what they consider theirs for eternity. And the only way Hope can save her friend is by letting her enter a world she’s safer knowing nothing about.

Hope is back in Living with the Dead, book nine in the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. Her first book (Personal Demon) was unusual, what with the fact that she co-narrated the novel. This book has five points of view. But not first person. This is the only novel to date that Kelley has written in third person. The five points of view include Hope, Finn, Robyn, and clairvoyants Adele and Colm.

Hope’s best friend Robyn, a human, is caught up in a supernatural life and death situation. She’s the target of a community of clairvoyants. Up until now, we’ve rarely seen clairvoyants. We know they exist, but like the werewolves in the beginning, they live in a world, separate from other supernaturals. They’re dying out, and they want to preserve their bloodlines and only mate with other clairvoyants. As they’ve reproduced with humans and other supernaturals, their powers have decreased as generations passed.

Honestly, my favorite part of this book was the clairvoyants. Most of the time, a clairvoyant’s power is to see the future. Not so in this world. If one of them has an article of your clothing, a necklace or ring, or any other personal item of yours, they can see through your eyes. They see what you see. Which makes it awfully hard to escape when one is coming after you. Which just happens to be Robyn’s dilemma.

But if she’s on the run from cops who think she killed her client, why are clairvoyants after her? She has only one person, her best friend Hope, on her side. Well… Hope and her good-for-nothing (my opinion) boyfriend, Karl Marsten. I enjoyed Hope and this book much more than the previous installment. Living with the Dead is so different from the rest of the series it really stands out from the others. It takes a really good writer to keep things just as exciting as we near the double digit mark in a series.