Monday, July 28, 2014

An Ode to the Kate Daniels Series by Illona Andrews


I have contracted the Kate Daniels disease and I don’t want to be cured 

I have been quite vocal about my love for Illona Andews, particularly how much I love their Kate Daniels series. However never have I written a review of any of their books. Sound peculiar doesn’t it. The reason behind is the simple fact that after reading either I jump straight to their next book or I’m too busy gushing, fangirling, and screaming around running in circles about how awesome the piece of literature I just read.

I may just have to correct myself here as I just realise that I have written a review for Magic Slays and going back and reading it proves my point again as the piece of writing makes no sense at all as it is full the fore-mentioned fangirling and spouting incoherent nonsense about how a shrine should be made to honour them.

So let’s start with the beginning shall we? It all started in 2010 when
I was reading every UF out there (which I sort of still do) and came across The Kate Daniels series. Everybody warned me how the first book was difficult but it gets better, so like a brave trouper I soldiered on with the first book and guess what I didn’t find it difficult in the least. Yes, the magic waves were a little difficult to get my head around but my mind was blown away by the no- sparkly grotesque vampires and the shape shifters who were mean and vicious with all sorts of weird and wonderful social structure built around them. The cherry on top was Kate. I loved her. Period. I would run away with her and have her little sword wielding children if she wants me to and no, I don’t even swing that away. No pun intended. I felt connected to her in a way I feel with a childhood beast friend whom I understand. The mood, her nuances, her personality, her behaviour felt so endearing familiar and yet it managed to surprise me time and time again.

One of my all-time favourite lines which true fans will recognise and so very Kate and that started everything. And many more but I don’t have the space and I don’t want to bore you all so here’s a little taster.

“Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty...”

  I am not even sure that I can find the right words or phrase something which will do justice to how much I adore this series and these wonderful writers.

Have you even thought that a book was written specifically for you. I mean, a personalised book, a story to push all your buttons and a guaranteed that you will like it. That is precisely how I feel about The Kate Daniel Books. It’s like slipping into a custom made suit built to fit your every contour, rise and fall and the lines of your preferences so that there is not a simple aspect out of place. The balance between, humour, action, romance, love, friendship, mystery, action, fear and almost every emotion under the roof is so perfectly written that when I’m reading, I literally cannot take my eyes off the pages. The writing is spot on for me.The heroine, the love interest, the side characters are so well crafted that they seem real. Heck, I want them to be real.

The action scenes are so brilliantly envisioned and no short cuts are taken. It is abundantly clear that both Illona and Gordon have an innate understanding of fighting, weapons and the consequences of the actions. The romance is something to behold and I adore Curran. I tend to get carried away with male leads and I’ll be the first to admit that while my other bookie friends may be swooning over werewolves and shape-shifters but I have never been one of them. I was more a vampire girl but Illona Andrews converted me. 
However, saying that, Curran doesn’t feature on my book boyfriend list. The reason being he is just so perfect for Kate and vice versa that I cannot even think about having him for myself or anyone else.

I have pretty much read every tittle by this writing duo and I am amazed each time that their beautiful writing transcends so well into other world and stories too. Nothing can beat Kate Daniels though.

It is a testimony to how much I love this series that it has become somewhat of a ritual to read the entire series back to back in prep for the new release every year. I have already read till book 6, Magic Rises and suffering from a book phunk for the next month as no other book is able to hold my interest. I start DNF-ing books which I never do otherwise. I may also assure you that even if I read the series for the 7th time (it may have been the 8th time, who knows) it still manages to lace me in a strait jacket and refuses to let me go. I sneek away and avoid all social contact until the series is completed. Yes, I have contracted the Kate Daniels disease and I don’t want to be cured. 
Don't be fooled by the awfully off putting covers as the cover do not justice to what's inside them.

It is such a shame that the whole Kate Daniels series is not available in the UK(only the first few books are) and I keep struggling to acquire a copy for myself but I am hoping the publishers will be able to see a growing fan base here and pick up this fabulous, out of the world series.

So, if this doesn’t convince you to give this series a chance, them go to Amazon or GoodReads and see the tons of reviews from reader all around the world on how extra-ordinarily great this series and these writers are. Try it and believe me you will not regret it. 

Let's just say I cannot wait for Magic Breaks and if it was available in the stores here I would have been camping outside the stores or even the publishers office to give me an advanced copy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: A Discovery of Witches( All Soul's Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness


Dark, sensible and intelligent take on the supernatural
Title: A Discovery of Witches
Series: All Soul’s Trilogy
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Headline
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 1st September, 2011

S urprisingly satisfying, The Discovery of Witches was seriously enjoyable.

It all started from a manuscript, which Diana found in the Bolden Library in Oxford. She is a witch who wants nothing to do with her heritage and her lineage which keeps haunting her wherever she goes to escape it. She catches the eye of Mathew Clairmont, an ancient vampire who had been searching for this manuscript from hundreds of year and now all creatures including Diana’s brethren, vampires and daemons are hunting Diana for the manuscript.

The blurb does not do justice to the story. This book was a long arduous albeit enjoyable joinery to the dark mysterious pits of the Oxford scholarly world with different supernatural creatures thrown together into the mix. I’ll not do too much into detail as this book is very much show and not tell. I went into this book with trepidation considering this was a long book and gave quite a grown up vibe and few pages in and I realised I was enjoying it.

The Discovery of Witches is an apt tittle for this book because as much as it is a story about Diana and Mathew and there forbidden love, it is also about the discovery of the world filled with different creatures and how the secret world slowly unravels itself.

If you are looking for a fast paced, nonstop action book, then this is not for you. However if you want a book which will slowly uncurl it’s secrets, wrap you around it’s fingers and make you crave wine even if you have never tasted it. Heck, I don’t even drink alcohol and I wanted to taste some of the vintage that Mathew kept plying into Diana.

This book was a slow burn for me but one which does not give you congestion. Oh no, it gave me this tingles and just the right amount that you are warm and comfy and don’t want to move off your sofa. It is a shame that I read A Discovery of Witches in summer for I think it is an ideal book to read while curled in a sofa on a cold crisp night with a blanket and read into the wee hours into the morning.

Overall, A Discovery of Witches is an intelligent, clever; ‘grown-up’ take on the supernatural which will keep you coming back for more. Recommended for fans of not only the supernatural but also for readers who was your paranormal fix with less action and more intellect and of course for wine connoisseurs.

The last book in the All Soul’s Trilogy, The Book of Life, came out on 15th of June, 2014.  

Review copy received via Headline Books, UK

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Never Was (Otherworld #1) by Skylar Dorset


Entertaining but unremarkable
Title: The Girl Who Never Was
Series: Otherworld  
Author: Skylar Dorset
Publisher: Source Books
My ratings: 3 out of 5 stars
Released: 1st June, 2014
We If the cover for The Girl Who Never Was doesn't make you pick up the book then he blurb does. Selkie Stewart is not as normal as she thinks she is. In fact she is a half Ogre and half Faerie princess. The city of Boston, her strange aunts and the boy who meets her in town every day may seem a little mysterious but when she finds out the truth, the world around her changes its meaning forever. Now danger lurks at every corner and she keeps uncovering new creatures and turns out her own mother want to kill her due to a prophecy.

The Girl Who Never Was ticks all the boxes for a well selling YA title. However, I was not enchanted by this new take on faeries and the over used Tir Na Nog. While the writing and the narrative were serviceable the story had nothing remarkable about it. The world building was simple and the story had no surprises which made me sit up and take notice.

I did enjoy Selkie and Ben's relationship which was sweet and tender and also the prophesy at the end a great opening for more books. I loved Selkie's aunts who were strange and funny in their own strange ways and Will the cheeky flirt.

Overall The Girl Who Never Was is a promising start to a new YA series. Filled with new creatures, prophecies, cute boys and a lot more, The Girl Who Never Was will appeal to a large audience. IT may not be memorable but it did not annoy me nor did it grate on my nerves. That in itself is an achievement. I may or may not read the next book, but the cover is gorgeous nevertheless.

ARC provided by SourceBooks via NetGalley

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E Lockhart


Atmospheric and poetic
Title: We Were Liars
Author: E Lockhart
Publisher: Hot Key books, UK
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 15th May, 2014
We Were Liars was one of those hyped up books that everybody was talking and I certainly see why. It is difficult to really write a blurb for this book and the elusive synopsis is more than enough to describe this story.

But what I can tell you is that this book is about love, friendship, relationship and family. Lockhart has a poetic way of writing which may or may not appeal to some people and the way the story progresses is what keeps you riveted to the book. The narrator, Cadence has a dramatic way of describing thing but this is what keeps you going as it gives a strange sense of eeriness.

The story is clever even if the plot is slow as molasses. In fact some may argue it has not plot at all but I would like to point that this book/story is not about the plot but about the writing, the atmosphere, and the prose.

The other characters were unique and somehow they seemed heart felt to be. I had predicted the big reveal about a quarter of the book in but even when it does occur, it was sad and touching. I felt what Cadence left and I could feel why she loved Gat as much as she did.

If you want an atmospheric, clever YA filled written with a imbedded sense of sadness and sorrow, this book is for you. The writing style may not be for everyone but it’s something new and unique.

ARC provided by Hot Key Books, UK

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Half Bad (Half Life Trilogy #1) by Sally Green


Deserving of all the hype and accolades
Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Series: Half Life Trilogy
Publisher: Penguin, UK
My Ratings: 5 out of 5 stars
Released: 4th March, 2014
Walf Bad is one of those books that you will either love or get bored by it. It has so many well thought reviews that explain this book so much better than I can. Still, I’ll try.

Half Bad is the story of Nathan, the son of the most feared Black witch. He is in fact one of a kind. He is half code: half white witch and half black witch who are supposed to be evil. This mother dies when he is young, there is no trace of his father and he lives with his Grand-mother and his half-brother and sisters.

This book broke my heart and built it up again. Nathan’s young life was tragic, filled with struggles and tests with everyone judging him for his heritage. His quest for love and acceptance moved me. Half Bad tells the story from Nathan’s point of view how detrimental judgement and fear can be on a young child. Everyone around him was waiting for him to explode into the big bad wolf but all that child wanted was normalcy.

He lived in the world of the White Witches who liked to call themselves ‘good’ but over the course of the book it was clear that they were anything but. This book explores so many themes that I don’t think I’ll be able to give each of them justice and will be able to give any subjective rationale in my humble opinion. While I found the second half not as good as the first, the plot moved at a decent place. There were bits of strange third person narrative between scenes which required a little getting used to but I understood their purpose.

Nathan was such a relatable characters that I could understand and support for from the start. It felt he had taken a root into and heat and refused to let go. I loved the relationship he had with his brother and sister, Gabriel and of course the enigmatic Cecile. I’m still over the fence about Annalise but hopefully the next book, Half Wild, will satisfy my curiosity and even a slight urge to end her life. (Yes, I can’t seem to like her. Nathan’s story has such endearing and tender scenes and yet he manages to still have this dry sense of humour that I felt instantly protective of him.

What I do want to say that this book is absolute must read not only for Young Adults but also for adults. Themes like nature vs nurture, fear of the unknown, a child’s desire to be loved, freedom, good vs evil, etc have so beautifully been twirled one single story that my eyes were practically glued to the pages. It was poignant, addictive, moving, heart breaking, compelling with characters which are multi-faceted and over the course of the book the lines between good and evil are blurred and somehow turned upside down.

ARC provided by Penguin UK via NetGalley

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: The One (Selection #3) by Kiera Cass


Enchanting and sweet
Title: The One
Series: Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books, UK
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 5th June, 2014
Like for many of us the cover of The One gives away what the final instalment of The Selection series by Kiera Cass will be about.

I was smitten with the first book, The Selection. The writing had an almost amateurish in its simplicity and the dystopian world was under developed but I absolutely loved the narrative. The plot was simple and elegant that made you think why somebody hadn’t thought of it before?

I loved America, Aspen and Maxon and their back and forth between the convoluted politics of the Palace and the girls.

The Elite further reinforced my love for this series with its sweet romance, it touched my heart as how America and Maxon were slowly getting closer and perhaps giving both a chance for a romance of a life time.

I was waiting for The One with bated breath. Everybody pretty much knew the ending of this one as the cover and the title utterly gave it away. The One started off strongly with the elements I love about this series leading into what I assumed would be a fantastic finale.

However, it seems like Kiera took the feedback of her readers this time and the rebels and the political aspect of the story hugely over shadowed the romantic plot. I knew what the author was trying to do, which was giving America perspective so that she could be a better Queen for the country but I really didn’t like how dark this book slowly became. It has a few deaths and I didn’t like Maxon as much as I had liked him before. He claimed he liked America but he kept hanging out with Kris. I understand that he had to do what was demanded and expected of him but it felt that he was cheating on America.

I’m not sure how I liked the way the angle with Aspen was resolved with a tiny pink bow stuck to it but at least all threads were tied up in the end. But my favourite scene was the Maxon and America in the rain on the roof terrace.

Regardless of my rants, The One was still an entertaining, fun and sweet story. The whole series is highly recommended as it light, cute and romantic with a plot which will leave you torn. With its fairy tale like plot and memorable characters it will leave you enchanted and turning the pages late into the night.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review: The Dark World (The Dark World #1) by Cara Lynn Shultz


Demon Slaying Warlocks descend in New York
Title: The Dark World
Series: The Dark World
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, US
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 27th May, 2014
T he Dark World took me by surprise. I had not read anything by Cara Lynn Shultz before but I have had her other series on my TBR from donkey years.

The Dark World is set in modern day New York where Paige is a high school girl who lives with her parent goes to school like any other regular girl. She attends classes, hangs out with her besties, skips lessons but the only difference is that her best friend is a ghost. Paige has been able to see ghost for a long time and hence has be slotted into the weird person category in her school. Unfazed by it all she carries on with her life but one day she notices that the cute guy who sits next to her seems to be interested in her. Turns out that Logan, the new guy is a demon slayer and his job is to protect the world from demons and warlock.

I really enjoyed the writing and the plot. Everything fell into place as the story progresses and all the characters were what I’d expect them to be like. Paige was clever, responsible and fearless. She would rather be friends with a ghost and be ostracised for being crazy than be accepted in the popular throng of people. I liked her confidence and the fact there was no confusion as to what she wanted for herself. Of course things change over the course of the book which throws her in turmoil but I appreciate how she handles the situation.

Logan was pretty cute, sweet and kick ass at the same time. He rocked a sword and the demon slaying stint and he had an eye for good things in life namely in choosing Paige. Their romance was really sweet with just the right amount of sexual tension thrown in.

The side characters were well hashed out and the world building with the demon and warlocks was interesting enough. However, with the way the book came to an end, the world was turned upside down on its head and past alliances and friendships are being question and I have to say I’m looking forward to the next book.

The Dark World was fun, action filled and engrossing. I felt invested in the characters, the story with no love triangles (Thank God!) and dodgy characters who may or may not be trusted. I’d recommend it to any YA fantasy fan who is de up of the same old vampire, werewolf, faery, angel, dystopia troupe.

ARC received from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley


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