Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Pledge
Kimberly Derting
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0-7490-1185-7
Pages: 380
Series: The Pledge #1
Type: Young Adult Dystopian
Source: Purchased

In the distant future, seventeen-year-old Charlaina lives in a world divided by words. Each class has their own native language and it is a crime to even acknowledge someone from a higher class while they are speaking it. Charlie is hiding a gift...she can understand all of the languages so when she meets the mysterious Max who speaks in a tongue she's never heard before she is intrigued. Max believes Charlie is the key to releasing the kingdom from the control of an aged and ruthless queen, but can Charlie truly trust him?

This is the second book I've read by Kimberly Derting and as I wasn't blown away by The Body Finder, I wasn't sure what to expect going into this but the intriguing storyline caught my attention. The idea of a world completely divided by something as fundamental as language is fascinating and I was really looking forward to seeing how it played out. The setting is unique as this is a dystopian set several hundred years into the future which means it lacks many of the similarities often found in dystopians with a shorter time jump.

Charlie was a great lead character in that it was easy to see things from her perspective. She's been hiding her gift for her entire life but it seems that she isn't very good at it as she keeps making basic mistakes. Strangely her equally gifted little sister seems to cope better with the necessary secrecy. Max was an intriguing guy who was hiding many more secrets than Charlie herself, but with all the deception I found myself rooting for Charlie to fall for her best friend Aron who is a far simpler, more caring guy.

Queen Sabara was probably my favourite character in the whole book. She manages to be ruthless and evil without coming across like a cartoon villain, and her royal machinations spread a layer of tension throughout the book. It is completely understandable why people are rebelling against her, especially the rebellion's current leader Xander, but somehow also clear why the general population don't want a war on their doorstep and as such resist the rebellion.

My problem with the book is that I never really got caught up in the storyline. I wasn't invested in Charlie's future and I figured out several of the plot twists quite early on which was disappointing. I initially thought this book was supposed to be a stand alone especially as the only clue to a lingering storyline is found in the epilogue. It now looks as if there will in fact be at least two more in the series, starting with The Essence, although I'm not sure if I'll be reading them.

All in all this was an interesting read.

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Enjoyment: 8/10
Cover: 8/10

Overall: 40/50

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Angel with Attitude by Michelle Rowen

Title: Angel with Attitude
Michelle Rowen
Publisher: Warner Forever
ISBN: 0-446-61699-0
Pages: 347
Series: N/A
Type: Adult Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased

Falling naked into the killer whale tank at MarineLand is going to ruin anyone's day, but when you've just been banished from heaven with a brief "don't talk to Tempter demons" speech it's even worse. Valerie Grace used to be an angel and after her dramatic banishment has ended up working as a maid at the Paradise Inn. But a random coincidence leads Valerie to realise that there is a stolen key to Heaven which would enable her to go long as she can survive the very tempting Tempter Nathaniel.

This is one of my favourite stand alone books of all time, mostly because it is absolutely hilarious and cleverly written. The idea of an angel banished from heaven is interesting enough but by adding in her desperation to get back the author has created a brilliant story that travels from our world to hell and back. The storyline is well plotted, managing to branch in unexpected directions with some clever twists and turns.

Valerie is a brilliant lead character. She's really confused and upset by her banishment and is desperately clinging to her few fading memories of heaven. Valerie is willing to do just about anything to get back which leads to some hilarious situations. Nathaniel is the ideal Tempter Demon as not only is he drop dead gorgeous, but he isn't that good at tempting Valerie. It soon becomes clear that a potential romance is blooming, much to the horror of both Nathaniel and Valerie.

My favourite character has to be Reggie. He is Valerie's friend who upsets his witch girlfriend Claire who then demonstrates her powers by turning him into the rat she feels he is. Reggie is a rat for the majority of the book which adds another comedic twist to the story. The other character I loved was the demonic romance writer Lloyd who manages to steal every scene he is in.

All in all this was a really fun read that I fully recommend.

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Cover: 7/10

Overall: 46/50

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Teaser Tuesday (36)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

My teaser:

"You've got to be kidding me,
Val thought with despair. Is this part of my punishment too?"

~ Page 7, Angel with Attitude by Michelle Rowen

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Calling
Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Atom
ISBN: 978-1-907410-47-5
Pages: 326
Series: Darkness Rising Trilogy #2
Type: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Maya Delaney now knows that she has a unique gift. She is a skin-walker and able to change her form into that of a mountain lion. But with that knowledge came horrifying revelations about her home town of Salmon Creek. Now she is stranded in the wilderness of Vancouver Island with a small group of friends after a suspicious forest fire forced an evacuation and Maya is left questioning not only can she control her gift, but can she truly trust the people she calls her friends?

This is the second book in the Darkness Rising trilogy (after The Gathering) and picks up right where the previous left off so I definitely don't recommend reading this first. There have been too many revelations for this to make much sense separate from the first volume.

Once again the story is action packed but this time the story starts with a bang meaning that it is fast paced throughout with lots of twists and turns, some picking up on little hints in the previous book. There is also a lot of internal stress as Maya and her friends have discovered that Salmon Creek was less of a medical research town and more of a paranormal playground, and that they may have innate supernatural abilities from supposedly extinct species.

Although Maya is accustomed to being out in nature, being totally stranded miles from home is new to her as is becoming the leader of a group of not-so-outdoorsy teens. She is stranded along with Daniel, Sam, Haley, Nicole and Corey which means quite a large cast of characters, although they frequently split into smaller groups which stops it from becoming difficult to keep track of everyone. Forcing such a diverse group together with snobby girls next to goths creates some tension that is great to read.

Taking a leadership role and dealing with her losses makes Maya spend some serious time considering whether her life is better or worse now she knows the truth, and her struggle with her grief is well written. Daniel is dealing with the revelations of his nature as well and trying to grasp what being a Bendanti means for him. Both grow up a lot during the book which is great to read about.

As the second book in the trilogy questions are unsurprisingly left unanswered, especially as to the supernatural species of some of Maya's friends. I'm really hoping these are revealed in the final volume as I'm looking forward to seeing which new species are introduced, particularly in Corey's case.

All in all this was another great read and I'm looking forward to The Rising.

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Ending: 10/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Cover: 10/10

Overall: 48/50

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Gathering
Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Atom
ISBN: 978-1-907410-17-8
Pages: 359
Series: Darkness Rising Trilogy #1
Type: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Source: Gift

Maya Delaney has always felt a close bond with nature and her home town of Salmon Creek allows her to spend as much time in the wilderness as she likes. Salmon Creek is a tiny medical research town in the middle of nowhere and has always been a sanctuary for Maya. But strange things begin to happen. A champion swimmer drowns in the lake. Mountain lions hang around Maya's home. Maya's best friend Daniel starts getting vibes from people, one of whom is new bad boy in town Rafe who has an inexplicable interest in Maya...

This is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy which loosely follows on from the Darkest Powers trilogy and is set in the world of Kelley Armstrong's adult Otherworld series. I'm a huge fan of both the previous series and I love Kelley's writing style so I was psyched to hear she was writing a new trilogy. You could easily start here as a totally new reader as although this trilogy comes after her Darkest Powers, the link is loose enough that you don't need to read it first nor do you need any experience of her adult books (although there are nerdy things in there for those fans to spot).

The storyline is well paced and plotted, although there is a slower pace at the beginning to set up the world which quickly picks up as the book progresses. I loved the rural setting of Salmon Creek as it is different to most YA novels these days and it really allows Maya to show her wilderness type skills. One aspect of the book I adored was the focus on Native American mythology with the tradition of skinwalkers and also in a more contemporary way in terms of Maya's ancestral heritage and tribal origins.

I really liked Maya as a lead character. She is strong willed and self-reliant, happy to spend all of her time out in nature and refuses to change for anyone. Maya's issues dealing with the drowning of her best friend Serena are particularly well written. Rafe manages to be the bad boy without falling into the stereotypes, although like many a bad boy he hides a distinctly heart-of-gold type secret which he'll protect with his life. I admire his acceptance and how willing he is to help Maya even though she doesn't even know how much she needs it.

Daniel is the perfect best friend, having Maya's back no matter what and never complaining about the situation at home. Daniel's home life with his alcoholic father really won him my sympathy and his determination not to let it dictate his life won him my respect. He also has some issues as Serena was his girlfriend, although surprisingly not the one's I expected adding another dimension to his character.

All in all this was a great read and I'm looking forward to The Calling.

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Cover: 10/10

Overall: 49/50

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Shelf Candy Saturday (23)

Shelf Candy Saturday is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Maria at A Night's Dream of Books where each Saturday bloggers defy the saying "never judge a book by its cover" and showcase one that really catches their eye. Covers play a huge role in the books I choose so it's great to have the opportunity to showcase the pretties :)

My shelf candy for this week is the Darkness Rising trilogy (so far) by Kelley Armstrong.

These are the UK covers for first two books in the Darkness Rising trilogy and I'm really hoping the as yet unreleased cover for The Rising matches.

These covers have a really unique look and I love the doubled up girl look to the covers with the silhouette in the background contrasting with the girl in the foreground. The images in the silhouettes also reveal the settings for each book, with the woodlands and circling crows from one specific scene in The Gathering and a girl isolated in the woods in The Calling.

I really like the simple colour scheme for each book with one in green and the other in blue. It also means that the titles which are metallic silver (extra points for shiny-ness!) stand out really well, although it's worth noting that it is the title, series and author on The Gathering but only the title and series on The Calling for some reason.

The covers aren't matt or gloss but a kind of soft touch almost neoprene feel. Not only is it a great tactile feel, but it also makes the books comfortable to hold for long periods of time (handy given I read each of these in a single sitting).

If you'd like to know what I thought of these two, check back tomorrow for my review of The Gathering and Monday for my review of The Calling.

So what's your shelf candy this week?
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