Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartmen.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartmen.

 The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy.
But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened...
Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension.
For Seraphina hides a secret - the secret behind her musical gift - and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger...

Before I start my review, I would just like to fan-girl over this book for a moment. AHHHHHHH IT'S SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!! I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!! okay, I'm done, now onto the review!

The cover: I'm not a fan of the UK cover so I bought the US cover instead because it is beautiful. The black and white colour scheme with a red mist throughout it all is so visually appealing! And the pencil like drawing of the town and the dragon is immensely gorgeous, but it also gives readers a perfect sense of what the book is about before going into the story, which I love! This cover has got to be one of my all time favourite covers!

The characters: Like a lot of fantasy novels, this book has quite a large cast with multiple Lords and Ladies, this can get a bit confusing as I often found myself having to remind myself on who's who. However, the large amount of characters does make the story more realistic as you truly get to feel like you're part of the busy city and castle, and truthfully I found it easy to remember the main characters names, it was just the side characters that I had trouble with so it's all good! Seraphina was a very likeable main character and I loved the fact that we were able to get to know her through her own past as flashbacks are involved in this story, so we get a much wider picture of who Seraphina is and why she takes certain paths throughout the story. The side characters were also loveable with their own quirks and stories which gives the book so much more life! And of course we have the dragons, they are perfectly described and I kind of just want to be a dragon now.

The setting: I'm a sucker for settings like the ones in Seraphina! It is set mainly in a castle of sorts, with servants bustling about and the royal family socialising in fancy halls, what's not to love?! But the town outside is also amazing, with churches, inns, forests and taverns where not only humans love to go! I usually find it quite hard to imagine settings in fantasy novels but Seraphina gave such a detailed description that I found the images easily being made in my head.

The overall story: As I said at the start, I loved Seraphina so much! With such a unique premise, I'm surprised I found it so believable in a way, I understood all of Seraphina's worries about the dragon kind, even though they are mythical creatures and don't exist. I often find myself becoming bored with stories that are very descriptive but this was not the case with Seraphina, I was sucked into this richly described world full of dragons and royal families that I never felt myself getting bored with it! The romance in this story doesn't play a big part, it's only really mentioned after you get halfway through. However, I liked the fact that it didn't play a big part because we got to see Seraphina form a friendship with the love interest instead of diving head first into love. Plus, it gave me a chance to think about the main plot line more instead of just being interested with whether or not she will end up with him, and with a story full of suspicion, tension, heartbreak and deceits it wasn't hard to become interested with the plot line at all! There's so many more amazing things about this book but I shall leave them for you guys to find!

A beautifully written tale of dragons, friendship, love and politics, Seraphina easily gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me! I recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

 - Brodi.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

"Grace," I whispered. "This isn't how it ends."
Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.
Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has. Anything, as long as their love can survive.

The Cover: You probably can't tell from the picture, but the cover is super shiny! I think this is important because it immortalises the story in a way, like, it's almost like metal which is clearly more durable and memorable than simply black or white. Also, the rain is ominous but it has always and probably will always rain. Maybe a teeny tiny hint at the nature of the love between Sam and Grace?

The Characters: Amazing as ever. The most interesting evolutions of the characters are Sam and Cole. Sam goes from being fairly passive, not really a fan of facing situations; and he doesn't turn into a complete opposite, but you see him trying...or wanting to try at least. And it's for Grace and his pack, which makes it oh so cute. And then there's Cole who (in my opinion) was so lost in Linger and at the beginning of this book, that by the end of the book (and probably one of my top three book moments) I was overjoyed to see him really care for something that wasn't annihilating himself.

The Setting: I don't really have much more to say about the setting than I have already said in my previous reviews. It's gorgeous. I will say this though: The imagery and the pace of the last chunk of the book (I'm trying to stay away from spoilers) was almost other-worldly.

The Overall Story: The perfect ending to the story. I love that the characters go above and beyond for each other when they're forced into action. I love the relationship between Cole and Isabel. I love Cole and Sam's relationship. I love Isabel and Grace's relationship. I love the ambiguity of the ending. I think the ending is a good measure-er of what you took from the book. Like, I thought it was a happy ending, so I feel that the book gave me enough hope and faith in the characters to deal with the ambiguity in a positive way. I love love love the chase towards the end*. I give Forever a 5 out of 5.

- Elsie


Okay, the thing I love about the chase other than the imagery and the on-the-edge-of-your-seat pace of it all was the fact that Cole St Clair ran (as a human, mind you) with the wolves. Isabel puts it perfectly as she describes how small Cole looks, but how big his shadow is. I think it shows in the best way that Cole cares and that he isn't lost anymore.)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
24 meets the X Files in the biggest teen blockbuster of the summer…
Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.
And killed.
Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…
Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.
That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

I was extremely excited to read this book as I had heard so many great things but I was a little bit disappointed with it. Lets move on to the review!

The cover: I like the cover, the mysteriousness of it and the sleek white background it has, but it doesn't blow me away. If I saw the cover in a shop and didn't know anything about the story I probably wouldn't pick it up. However, the tag line 'stop the countdown, save the world' is very eye catching and lets be honest, it sounds awesome!

The characters: There's quite a lot of characters in this book but I feel like I got to know each one and were able to distinguish each character by their personality. Janelle was a very likeable character and I always agreed with every decision she made, which is quite rare for me. I loved the relationship Janelle had with her father, brother and her best friend, the relationships felt very real which did make certain aspects of the story very heartbreaking! (I'm not going to say anything more, I don't want to spoil it!). The love interested, Ben, was also very good, he was sweet and I did become attached to him but I didn't find myself rooting for them until the very end of the book.

The setting: I think the setting was one of my favourite aspects to unravelling, I loved the beach, the motorcycle shop and I loved the fact that Janelle's house was adjacent to her best friend's house (I mean, who doesn't want to live next door to their best friend?!) but I also loved the sci-fi element to the setting. Again, I wont go that much into the sci-fi element as I don't want to spoil it for you guys!

The overall story: I have to say, this book was extremely unpredictable which is very rare for me to think, I usually am able to guess the ending but Unravelling had me guessing right until the end! I don't read a lot of sci-fi so I found this book to be very unique and I did find it really interesting, I also liked the fact that the romance aspect of the book blended really well with the sci-fi aspect of it! However, a lot of the things that happened during the book did feel very far fetched, I doubt that an FBI agent would just leave his top secret files out in the open for his daughter to read! Also, I felt like the beginning and the middle of the book was basically Janelle coming up with theories about what was happening and then the end was like 'NOPE YOU WERE WRONG, THIS WAS HAPPENING AND NOW EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT, THE END!' The ending was good and it was very creative but I felt like I didn't get to find out more about what was going on.

Unravelling is a very face paced, creative and suspenseful sci-fi read that will leave you guessing until the very end. However, because of the hype surrounding this book and the high expectations I had when going into it, I was a little bit disappointed. Overall I give Unravelling 3.5 out of 5 stars, I liked it but it didn't blow me away.

 - Brodi

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.  Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of a human. For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces--wolf and human--with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

The Cover: As I said in my last review, the thing I love most about these covers is how they relate to the covers of the other books in the series. The inverse of the Shiver cover is really something that becomes more resonant as the book goes on. The reverse represents the reverse of who is more vulnerable in the Sam-Grace relationship. The heart shaped leaf in the corner of the Shiver has transformed into a red paw print - another detail that I think highlights one of the main parts of the struggle in all of the characters (which is, in short, how dangerously intertwined love and the wolves are).

The Characters: Sam and Grace have more depth in this novel, which I love. Sam's relationship with his parents and the pack are explored deliciously - the stark contrast being the thing that really makes it stick in your mind. The chill of the bathroom tiles as opposed to the warmth of the reds and browns of Beck's house. Grace also enters into newer territory as well, with the sudden friction between her and her up-til-now absentee parents. Grace's parents are interesting characters - I don't like them as characters, but they add to the story and the realism of it. Isabel's perspective in this novel makes it even greater. I love her character even though she can be a nasty piece of work. And then there's Cole. Cole St Clair - frontman of NARKOTIKA and all round pain in the butt. I love his longing to lose himself, his humour and his exchanges with Isabel. I sometimes got frustrated with his inability to take much seriously, but that's part of the character so I don't mind so much.

The Setting: Flawless, as ever. The woods and Beck's house remain to be characters in themselves - they even overshadow the characters in the forefront - but I'm a sucker for settings, so I may be biased.

The Overall Story: I love it! The scientific element of the 'werewolf toxin' (to borrow a phrase from Mr St Clair) gives the mythological elements more logic and realism. I love the switch-a-roo of vulnerable characters (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers) and the evolution of the characters that were in Shiver (Sam, Grace and Isabel, mainly) and Cole.

And it only gets better in the third and final installment of the series (which I'll be reviewing next time). I give Linger a 4 out of 5.

- Elsie

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Review: A touch of power by Maria V. Snyder.

A touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

  Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

Let me just begin by saying wow. This book was amazing and is possibly one of my favourite of the year! Now lets get onto the review, I'll try not to gush about it too much!

The cover: I love the colours and feel of this cover, its one of my favourite fantasy covers so far! However the girl on the front has a different hair colour than the main character in this book, but thats only a tiny flaw and the cover is still beautiful so I’ll give it a thumbs up!

The characters: Each of the characters in this book were described perfectly, I could envisage them in my mind so easily and they each had their own personalities so they weren’t just clones of each other which made the book feel more realistic, well as much as a fantasy book could be! Avry is a very likeable main character and I quickly became attached to her, but unlike many other books, I began to become attached to many of the side characters too. On her journey, Avry travels with a group of guys who are very loyal, humorous, strong but also have a soft side. What’s not to like about these guys?! One of the other thing I liked about this book was the villain of the story, he had an army of reanimated humans which made him so awesome! (you know, in a villain sort of way.)

The setting: A touch of power is a fantasy book so of course the setting is going to be good. It mainly takes part in forests and caves which I love, but we do get to see some royal palaces and small villages which makes it so much more better! The way the setting was described made it so easy for me to imagine in my mind which sucked me into the story straight away.

The overall story: So you guys already know that I love this book but the overall story is the main reason why I loved it so much. This story doesn't centre around one thing, there are lots of side stories to it as well that interlink with each other, this made the book so action packed that I never become bored with it. The romance part of the story was also well written as it wasn’t part of the main story it was merely one of the side stories, but it was woven so well into the book! It also wasn't instant love which was refreshing, it felt real and you could see the love flourish throughout the story. Although I didn't want the book to end, the ending wrapped up the whole book nicely but also left and opening for the second in the series which I cannot wait to read!

If you're a fan of fantasy, thinking of reading fantasy or haven’t even thought about reading a fantasy book, pick up this book because it was fantastic and I’m sure you will love it! A touch of power is action packed, heartbreaking, suspenseful and beautifully written so I will reward it with 5 out of 5 stars! 

- Brodi