5/31/11

Maiden in Light

Author: Kathryn L. Ramage
Pages: 308
Publisher: The Wapshott Press
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)When Laurel Windswift enters an apprenticeship under her uncle, the great wizard Lord Redmantyl, she sees only the delights that her magic can bring. But her desire for more knowledge brings her too soon into the dark secrets that all magicians of power share, and forces her to take up a wizard's duties of night vigils against monstrous and inhuman forces before she is ready. When Laurel returns to her home city to investigate a small magical anomaly for her uncle, this maiden of light meets a child of darkness, and must undertake a task too terrible to perform. 

On an alternate earth filled with wonder and danger, the wizard's niece must make a decision that will affect the rest of her life. As she struggles with the unbearable obligations of a magician, she also faces the ostracism of the merchant families who cast her out as a child, her aunt's matchmaking efforts, and finding an unexpected love.


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Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Laurel Windswift has always been an outcast - with her eerie silvery hair and tendency to produce flames when she's angry, she's always been in an outsider in her town. Not only that - Laurel has also been an outsider in her own family. Raised by her mother's first cousin (whom she calls her aunt), Laurel has never truly felt at home.


But then Laurel is sent to live with her uncle - the most powerful wizard in the world - and she discovers that she belongs with him in the world of wizardry and spellcraft. Gifted beyond measure, she quickly becomes his apprentice, learning everything she will need to become his successor in the magical world.


But then Laurel is sent back to her aunt's by her uncle in order to pursue a lead - there is an evil presence nearby, and Laurel's uncle has entrusted her with the care of the city. To be allowed to return home, she must first identify and defeat the evil that haunts her town. But will she be able to do it after discovering how horrible the nature of her task is?


My Thoughts: I loved this book! It combined all my favourite fictional elements: a historical era, magic and wizardry, and romance. Written in an older style, Maiden in Light is definitely not like the books we've all been reading lately. I loved the author's use of an alternate reality - still a lot like our own, but different at the same time. I'm a sucker for a good paranormal-history blend, and Maiden in Light didn't disappoint.


Laurel was a great main character - she was strong and powerful and courageous, and you could really see her grow throughout the novel. She starts off as a scared little girl, but soon grows into her powers and discovers just how strong she really is. I liked the fact that she was very focused on her magic and accepted what she knew she had to do. Also, I loved the fact that the book wasn't 100% centered on the romance element - when an entire novel is written about nothing but how hot the male lead is, it tends to throw me off a bit.


Like I mentioned before, the author utilized an older style of writing that we don't see a lot today; she was able to pull it off, though, making the world she created come alive through her awesome descriptions and use of imagery. I felt like I was right there with Laurel, which definitely added to the experience.


Final Thoughts: Maiden in Light is definitely something I'd recommend to people who enjoy paranormal-history novels (or just paranormal), and especially to people who want to read about a strong female protagonist. Check it out!

5/22/11

Quotastic Giveaway Winner!

Thank you all for entering my giveaway! Without further ado (since it's been a while... sorry guys!), the winner is... 


CHRISTIE S. !!!

Congratulation, Christie! You won a copy of The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong! (Although you may not remember entering... again, sorry it took me so long!)

Christie's Quote:

"... and all of it came down to one thing: love, or the lack of it. The chances we take, knowing no better, to fall or to stand back and hold ourselves in, protecting our hearts with the tighest grips."

- This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen

5/6/11

Teach Me

Author: R. A. Nelson
Pages: 272
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from the author's website)"There is not a name for what I'm feeling. There is no description for it. To call it yearning would be like calling the ocean water. Whatever this thing is, it shoves you inside itself and you can't measure its boundaries because they go too far and you don't have enough time. Or you move toward the boundaries and they move away. There has been an earthquake in my life.”

Teach Me is a powerful debut novel that readers will not be able to put down. From the very first page, Nine speaks in a voice that is at once raw, honest, direct, and unusually eloquent, inviting you inside an experience that fascinates everyone—an affair between teacher and student—and giving a personal answer to the question: How does this happen? R. A. Nelson's strong writing is paired with a story about a love so intense that the person you're with becomes your world, and when you lose that person, you lose your world.
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My Summary: Carolina ("Nine") is the type of girl you love to hate: practically a genius, she doesn't even try when it comes to grades and doing well in school. Always a bit of a loner, Nine finds herself drawn to the mysterious, unconventional English teacher(Mr. Mann), who gets her to challenge her own opinion of poetry and history. 

Nine thinks this little crush is one-sided until the day she finds herself in the passenger seat of his car while he confesses his feelings for her. Soon the two are caught up in a secretive romance, always looking over their shoulders in case they are found out. But things can only end badly, as Nine discovers when Mr. Mann mysteriously breaks it off...

My Thoughts: Despite the controversial subject, I really enjoyed this book. Nine is such a quirky character that you can't help but feel for her during those tough moments, and even when she seems to go a little bit... well, crazy, you kind of wince a little but still hope that she gets a happy ending (or maybe that's just me - I'm a sucker for happy endings).

The other characters were great as well. I adored Nine's best friend (the poor guy had to go through so much!), and I really liked Mr. Mann as well, even if he is made out to be the 'bad guy'. You understood why he did what he did, and you couldn't help but feel bad for him after everything Nine did.

The writing was awesome. Pure awesomeness with extra awesome on top (does that make sense? I don't think so). R. A. Nelson has a really unique writing style that I really liked, and Nine's point of view is hilarious.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this for anyone who's curious about how exactly something like this could happen. It's a great contemporary lit book, but probably not for anyone under 16.

What Is Real

Author: Karen Rivers
Pages: 208
Publisher: Orca Books
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Dex Pratt is seventeen years old, a star basketball player and a budding filmmaker. And his life has been turned upside down. His parents have split up and his mother has remarried and taken him to a new life in the city. When his father attempts suicide and fails, Dex returns to their small town to care for him. He is not, however, prepared for how much everything has changed. Gone is the suburban split-level on the outskirts of town. Gone are the new cars, fancy bikes and other toys. Now he and his wheelchair-bound dad live in a rotting rented house at the back of a cornfield. And, worse, his father has given up defending marijuana growers in his law practice and has become one himself. 
Unable to cope, Dex throws his camera in the trash and begins smoking himself into a state of surrealism. He begins to lose touch with what is real and what he is imagining. And then there are the aliens…And the crop circle…And the girl-of-his-dreams… 
What Is Real presents a poignant portrait of suburban family life gone south. Dex Pratt is smart, funny, creative and compulsive; he's also angry and disillusioned. But most of all he's a character that readers won't soon forget.

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My Summary: Dexter Pratt used to have a great life. His loving parents would buy him anything he wanted, he was popular, and he had a band and a camera and actually lived in the same house as the rest of his family. But then, all of a sudden, everything changes.

Dex's mom moves out, divorces his dad, and gets married to some politician guy she met online. His dad - so distraught by being abandoned by his wife - attempts suicide. Because of this, Dex is forced to leave his posh new life (private school, new car, popular stepbrother) to return home and take care of his dad. But his dad is different now - instead of defending marijuana growers in his law practice, he has become one, supplying the entire town and Dex as well. Dex is so depressed by his current situation that he does the only thing he thinks he can do - smoke himself into a state or surrealism, where he has no idea what is real.

My Thoughts: If you've ever seen the movies Shutter Island or Inception, you'll know what I mean when I say What Is Real is a book that effectively messes with your head (in a good way). Our main character Dex is always so hopped up on his dad's 'stuff' that he hardly knows the difference between what he's imagining (he has quite the active imagination, trust me) and what is real. The reader sees Dex's world through his own point of view, meaning you - like Dex - have no differentiation between reality and imagination. Add to that the fact that there are crop circles popping up in the cornfield next door and the new girl at school is exactly what Dex has always wanted (down to the four freckles on her left cheek), and you'll begin to see Dex's downward spiral taking place. 

Despite the controversial behaviour of the main character, I really liked this one! It really worked your mind and confused you at times (purposely and in a good way) so that you, like Dex, had no idea if he was actually experiencing certain things or just imagining everything while sitting in the cornfield smoking. Dex is one of those characters that has lost his way, and throughout the book you begin to wish that someone cared enough to help him out. Tanis was also a great character, and I'm sure everyone has met and 'Old Joe' in their lifetimes (creepy, perverted old man, anyone?). The writing was great - smooth and clear - and I really liked the addition of the 'camera scenes' at the beginning of the chapters.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a funny / sad contemporary lit book, and anyone who likes having their mind messed with a little. Because of the topic, I think this should be kept to readers 16 and up (or those who are mature enough to handle it). Can't wait for more from the author!


Find out more about Dex and What Is Real at www.thedexblog.com

5/1/11

No Humans Involved

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Pages: 528
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads): Readers around the world have fallen for Kelley Armstrong’s intoxicating, sensual and wicked tales of the paranormal, in which demons and witches, werewolves and vampires collide – often hilariously, sometimes violently – with everyday life. In Armstrong’s first six novels, Elena, Paige and Eve have had their way with us. Now get ready for Jaime Vegas, the luscious, lovelorn and haunted necromancer. . .

Jaime, who knows a thing or two about showbiz, is on a television shoot in Los Angeles when weird things start to happen. As a woman whose special talent is raising the dead, her threshold for weirdness is pretty high: she’s used to not only seeing dead people but hearing them speak to her in very emphatic terms. But for the first time in her life – as invisible hands brush her skin, unintelligible fragments of words are whispered into her ears, and beings move just at the corner of her eye–she knows what humans mean when they talk about being haunted.

She is determined to get to the bottom of these manifestations, but as she sets out to solve the mystery she has no idea how scary her investigation will get, or to what depths ordinary humans will sink in their attempts to gain supernatural powers. As she digs into the dark underside of Los Angeles, she’ll need as much Otherworld help as she can get in order to survive, calling on her personal angel, Eve, and Hope, the well-meaning chaos demon. Jeremy, the alpha werewolf, is also by her side offering protection. And, Jaime hopes, maybe a little more than that.
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My Summary: Jamie's always known where she wanted to go with her career, and when she gets invited to co-star on a spiritualist reality TV show, she knows she's almost there - getting her own show. Along with three other spiritualists (none of whom actually have any real powers), Jamie is supposed to summon the spirit of Marilyn Monroe and uncover the truth behind her untimely death.

But things don't go as planned. Almost as soon as Jamie unpacks her things, she realizes there is something 'off' about the house. There are troubled spirits around, but they won't make contact with her, choosing instead to poke and prod and pinch her when she's alone. More than a little disturbed by this, Jamie utilizes her multitude of contacts in the supernatural world, trying to discover what could have happened to these spirits and how to release them from limbo. But what Jamie discovers is more horrifying than anyone could ever have imagined...

My Thoughts: If you guys read my blog regularly, then you know that Kelley Armstrong is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favourite authors. Her writing is flawless, and her stories are always jam-packed with action and mystery and romance - it's really difficult not to enjoy her novels, and No Humans Involved was no exception! I loved Jamie's 'voice' - in previous books and from the points of view of other characters, she seemed like a bit of a ditz, but not here. In No Humans Involved, you get to see just how bad-ass Jamie Vegas can be.

I especially loved the romance element! Poor Jamie's been (secretly) in love with Jeremy for years, but he's always been a little bit oblivious... until now. It seems as if Jeremy's had feelings for Jamie too, and in this novel we really got to see the development of the relationship between these two characters who appear to be polar opposites.

Final Thoughts: If you're a fan of supernatural romance and mystery, you should definitely check out this series from the reining queen of supernatural fiction! You will not be disappointed.