Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Review : Bitterblue

Title : BitterblueBitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : Dial

Publication Date : May 1st, 2012

Pages : 563

Stand Alone or Series : #3 in the Graceling Realm series

Three Words : fantasy, mystery, royalty

Red Flags : violence including sexual in nature, psychological trauma, some language…(definitely for older adolescents or young adult)

******WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first and second books of this series  – Graceling and Fire  (click for review). YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! *******************************************************

Summary : It is eight years after the events in Graceling during which King Leck was finally killed. The country of Monsea is still reeling from thirty-five years of horrific acts of physical, mental and sexual depravity that in some cases they have committed themselves. Queen Bitterblue is attempting to heal her country while still trying to learn what it means to become a queen. Under advice from her council, she has pardoned all crimes committed during Leck’s reign and is attempting to forget everything that happened. However, Bitterblue notices that people are acting strangely (including her main advisers) and that maybe revisiting the past is the only way to heal the pain. She decides to sneak out of the castle at night and in disguise. While out and about, she meets two young thieves who only steal what was previously stolen and return it to their rightful owners. They open her eyes to what is really going on in her country. Will Bitterblue be able to help her country become prosperous and move on from their painful past? Can SHE move past what her father did?

My Take : So if you did read my other two reviews for the books in this series, you know that I LOVE these books. I was so excited about Bitterblue that I rushed to the library to pick up my precious copy. And maybe I was so excited that my expectations were slightly over the top….but Bitterblue did NOT live up to it. ( A tear is dropping from  my eye right now….) I spent much of the first two-thirds of this book in a state of confusion. Yes, people were acting strangely and that was mysterious and all but mostly it just didn’t make ANY sense. Bitterblue was just annoying me because she seemed so flighty and unsure of herself ALL the time. Weird things would happen (that didn’t connect to anything else mind you) and she would be all  ” Woe is me….I just don’t know what to do.” I spent a lot of time feeling like shaking her and saying (in my head) ” WAKE UP! Do something for the love of Christ.” Also, the romance with one of the thieves was not what I would call awesome. I just didn’t really like him all that much (not in the way I loved Brigan from Fire or Po from Graceling). All that being said, the last third of the book finally brought things together and was a satisfying ending to the trilogy. So while I was in a perpetual state of confusion and anxiety for the first part of the book, I ended feeling ok about the whole thing in the end. In the end, I wouldn’t give up reading two FANTASTIC books for a less than awesome ending. This makes the whole rating thing hard…..

My Rating : Seven shoes (I averaged a five for the beginning and a nine for the end )


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Book Review : Fire

Title : Fire Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : Dial Books

Publication Date : October 5th, 2009

Pages : 461

Stand Alone or Series : #2 in the Graceling series BUT this is a companion novel rather than a sequel so you could read it without reading the other books.

How obtained : ebook from the library

Three Words : fantasy world, character driven, intrigue

Red Flags : frank depiction of sex, violence and gore, no language

Summary (from Goodreads):  It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men. This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own. Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

My Take : Can I just say that I love Kristin Cashore! I love her so much I want to marry her and have her babies or possibly just lock her up in a basement forcing her to write fantasy novels forevermore ( I’m kidding!) This book was so fantastic, I love, love, loved it. Okay, I’ll stop gushing and actually tell you why I loved it. First, this is NOT a sequel to the Graceling (click for my review) which I also very much enjoyed. That threw me off at first but then I started to enjoy the story so much I didn’t care. Fire is an interesting, flawed character. I enjoyed the concept that she was so beautiful that people were basically bewitched by her monster abilities but that this actually was a problem rather than an asset for her. Her father had these same powers but used them for the most evil depraved things so she is fraught with anxiety that she is going to turn out just like him. Then we meet Prince Brigan, who hates her instantly but also must admit that her powers are useful to the kingdom. He is stubborn and prideful but also kind, interesting, intelligent, and a fierce warrior. This is very much a character study that studies what it means to overcome your past, including having a crazy evil parent. Unlike many other fantasy novels, the romance isn’t necessarily central to the whole story but they actually spend some time on it and make it more than just instant attraction = love. I really cannot say enough about how much I liked this book and I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it.

Rating : 10 SHOES! (It happened again……)

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Book Review : The Last Dragonslayer

Title : The Last Dragonslayer The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

Author : Jasper Fforde

Publisher : Harcourt Children’s Books

Publish Date : October 2nd, 2012

Pages : 296

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the The Last Dragonslayer Series (however each book is a stand alone story)

How Obtained : from the library

Three Words : witty, fantasy, YA

Red Flags : none really, small amounts of violence – I would recommend for older adolescent but only because many of the jokes, etc.. is intended for a more educated audience.

Summary : Jennifer Strange is a foundling working as an indentured servant for the Kazam Employment agency for magicians where she runs the every day business. Back in the day, magic was strong and magicians were well respected. Nowadays magic is disappearing and magicians are only hired for things like rewiring houses and unclogging drains. Suddenly, magicians everywhere are having visions that the LAST dragon will die at the hands of an unknown dragonslayer. Big Magic is coming and it will mean big changes for Kazam and Jennifer.

My Take : I love Jasper Fforde – every time I read one of his books I feel a little bit smarter. If you aren’t familiar with his writing style it is full of puns, literary references and whimsicality. He really is an author after my own heart- he loves fantasy and he loves books- what could be better. If you ARE familiar with Jasper Fforde, then go out and get this book. You will get your usual dose of interesting and fascinating new world, witty repartee and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at the foibles of humans especially bureaucracy. This is a solid fantasy world complete with magicians, war, corporations, kings, a reluctant hero and a stalwart (although somewhat scary) sidekick. I loved Jennifer Strange, she is old beyond her years. She’s seen it all at Kazam and can be a little blase. Even though she has plenty of reason to want to better her situation she won’t do at the expense of anyone or anything. She does what is right. Plus she drives a Volkswagen Bug. It’s one of those books where you keep wondering “how is the hero going to get out this??” but when the ending does come you are like “Oh of course, how silly of me….” I highly recommend this book and if you haven’t had a chance – please go out and read Fforde’s awesome book The Eyre Affair. It is wonderful beyond words (plus it has Jane Eyre in it and we all know how much I love that book.)

Rating : Nine Shoes – Practically perfect.



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Book Review : Graceling

Title : Graceling

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : HarcourtGraceling (Graceling Realm, #1)
Pages : 471
Publication Date : October 1st, 2008
Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Graceling Realm series
Three Words : fantasy, YA, lady assassin
Red Flags : some violence, mild sexuality (appropriate for older adolescents)

Summary : Katsa is Graced. In her world, some people are born with special abilities (called Graces) The Grace gives them special powers – the ability to read minds, to swim like a fish or the ability to make beautiful music. Katsa hates her Grace – the Grace of killing. She is under the command of her uncle, King Randa and he expects her to do his dirty work – threatening wayward subjects with torture or death. Katsa has decided to use her powers for good when possible but it must be done behind her uncle’s back. While out on a mission to rescue a stolen royal, she meets a young Graced prince. Prince Po is Graced with fighting skills. When he shows up at the court of King Randa they decide to train together in order to become better fighters. But something unexpected and new happens to Katsa; she makes a friend. Together they will try to figure out the secret of why somebody has kidnapped Po’s grandfather – it is a dangerous secret that affects all the seven kingdoms.

My Take : Love, Love, Love!! This was such a fun book and I was kinda disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it before. Katsa is such an interesting character. She actually reminds me a little bit of Katniss Everdeen – hardboiled, practical but somewhat naive in relationships. She relies on herself and she is a strong woman…so delightful.  That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have doubts or bad moments. But it is the tension between your good and bad self that makes for an interesting character.

The relationship between Po and Katsa is believable and interesting. They are friends – they talk about their lives, have fun together, etc… I really liked seeing a man and woman have a great friendship. It is obvious to me that Cashore has respect for the many sides of both genders.

Cashore is just a beautiful writer.  She brought this new world to life for me. I loved the characters both on the bad and good side. I cannot wait to find out how this all ends up. I give this book nine shoes!

Has anybody else read this series? What did you think?

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Book Review : Throne of Glass

More lady assassins!!

Title : Throne of GlassThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

Author : Sarah J. Maas

Stand alone or Series : #1 in Throne of Glass series (there are also four prequel novellas)

Three Words : YA, fantasy, assassin intrigue

Red Flags : violence, some sexual situations

Summary : Celaena Sardothien has spent a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier…this is just as hard as it sounds. In fact, most don’t survive a month let alone a year. Calaena has been sentenced for her super bad-assery in the assassin department. She is so good as to be a legend already.

She is suddenly taken and put before the Crown Prince Dorian. He is offering her freedom but on one condition: she must be his champion in the competition that his father is holding to find a new royal assassin. The prince and other peers of the realm are pitting their chosen champions in this competition – a motley crew of thieves, assassins, soldiers, etc… These “champions” will be put through a series of tests; fail and you will be eliminated. Celaena would only have to serve the king for three years and then she would really be free.

She is taken to court where she is trained by the captain of the guard, Captain Westfall. He is gruff and tough, not to mention hard on her but he seems to understand her better than anyone. Meanwhile, she starts to notice that Prince Dorian is more than he seems and things get all complicated. As the competition begins, there is added problems when contestants start being found murdered….in an extremely gruesome manner. Celaena decides to investigate before she becomes the next victim. Will she find the killer? Will she win the competition or does she even want to? Does she have feelings for the prince or for the captain or for either,hmmmm?

My Take : If you look at the Goodreads reviews, there were definitely strong feelings about this one. Some loved it, other really hated it. I fell into the category of loved it! I am really digging on the whole I am woman, hear me roar thing going on in books right now. It’s nice to see female characters, kicking ass, taking numbers, not relying on men to save them but also having the ability to mess up, asking for help when needed and realizing their own fallibility. Something I feel used to be relegated to male characters only. Also, it is about time a character acknowledged that she is pretty and likes getting dressed up. I can’t tell you how tired I am of the whole – I’m plain Jane tomboy girl that somehow attracts a bunch of men to me. I wish there was a little more of Celaena doing some actual killing or some such but I wasn’t hugely bothered by this. Others also really hated the love triangle aspect of it. This was probably not my favorite part of it but I appreciate that she made neither man an obvious “why is she even interested in him?” character – you know when they are too nice or too mean or too something.

I enjoyed the action of this book. The plot was nicely paced and kept me interested in going back to the book again and again. I read this one fairly quickly .  I am really interested in reading the prequel novellas which show how Celaena became legendary assassin because who doesn’t love a good back story? To wrap it up, there are some things that could’ve been done better with this book but overall I really liked it and would recommend picking it up. I give it eight shoes : flat boots that I have been craving so I can go ahead and tuck all my pants in already!


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Book Review : The Stepsister Scheme

For those of you with little daughters who are coming up on Halloween, you are probably in the midst of dealing with princess mania. For those of you who don’t have girls, count yourselves among the lucky. I NEVER wanted to know this much about princesses….we know so much that I recently heard myself correcting somebody else on the color of each princesses’ dress in very serious tones. My feminist self rails against all that the princesses stand for (i.e. helplessness, waiting for a man to rescue them, wicked older women etc….) but my mommy self cannot deny that my girls love it and it is extremely hard to be all wicked mommy on them. This review is therefore to those other mommies (and possibly daddies) who are sick of the sacharine sweet Disney princess….

Title : The Stepsister Scheme (Bk. 1 of the Princess Novels)

Author : Jim C Hines

Three Words : Fantasy,  fairy tale , action adventure

Red Flags : Some Violence (not gory) , some sexual situations

We meet up with Cinderella or Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) AFTER her happily every after. She has married her prince and everything went great (if you don’t count a certain crazy pigeon incident). Soon after the wedding, Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte and being all princessy she is not so good at the defending herself. Luckily, Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty) comes to her rescue. But even she can’t fight Charlotte’s brand new magic powers, and the stepsister gets away. It is at this moment that Danielle discovers some disturbing facts : her husband has been kidnapped and magicked away to the faerie realm, she is pregnant and her MIL runs a secret spy agency that includes Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (hereafter called Snow). The three princesses band together to conduct a secret mission into the dangerous fairyland to rescue Danielle’s husband. Can they rescue Armand, get back before the baby comes AND maintain the delicate diplomatic relationship with the fairies?

Sound pretty good, right?? If you are like me, it is refreshing to read a story with princesses where not one man comes to their rescue. I really liked how differently this story is told using many of the old Disney fairytale conventions that we are familiar with.. Talia has all sorts of crazy fairy graces or abilities and is a fighting machine. Snow White uses magical mirrors to perform her feats of derring not to mention killed flirting abilities. Another thing that made it a fun read is that the princesses are totally bad-ass. However, this does come with a price…..The princesses all have some sort of intense PTSD issues from their ordeals – Talia views her fairy “gifts” more as curses due to the horrific way she was woken up and Snow lost the only man she loved (the huntsman) when her mother had him killed. Hines adds some new twists to the story – an unrequited love story from an unexpected character and the fairies being kinda evilish. All in all, the biggest thing I can say about this book is that it is fun. There is a lot of action here from one fantasy locale to another. Having said that, I think this is the book’s only downfall. This book is heavily plot-driven but very light on character development. While we do see Danielle develop from passive princess to a more forthright lady, we don’t get to see much more from Talia or Snow. And while you end up liking all the princesses just because they are fun, you don’t really develop the same interest in their well-being that you would with more developed characters.

Rating : 7 out of 10 shoes (stilettos that you really love but you can never wear cause you don’t really have any place to wear them 😉 )


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The Magicians – Book Review

If you are like me then you might be a little bit more than obsessed with Harry Potter – maybe you’ve stood in line at midnight to buy a book or possibly had a party with your friends before that including Potter themed appetizers – but I digress. If so, you might also have occassionally thought while you were reading Harry P. that honestly sometimes you just wished that Harry would say something that a teenager would say – like “This whole Voldemort thing is bullshit.” or “I’d like to bang my girlfriend sometime…” If you are in that category then you should try The Magicians by Lev Grossman – it is a cross between grown up Harry Potter with some grown up Narnia thrown in. Check it out….

Quentin Coldwater is on his way for his entrance exam to Princeton. When he shows up at the interviewer’s house he finds the man dead on the floor and a mysterious envelope with his name on it. Inside the envelope is a manuscript about Quentin’s fantasy series – a series about a fantasy world called Fillory (very similar to Narnia). While on his way home he drops the manuscript and the pages are blown everywhere. While trying to gather them up, he finds himself in a whole new world. He learns that he is right on time to take an entrance exam – not to Princeton but to magic college. We get to follow Quentin as he learns about real magic, develops crazy relationships at the college and finally what happens when you leave magical college. Ever wondered what the heck kind of a job a magician would have? This novel explores that problem and what would happen if magicians became bored….

This was a such an interesting and rare treat of a book. I can honestly say that I had no idea what would happen in the book and that more often than not it surprised me. Grossman obviously loves the fantasy genres and throws in all sorts of references including Harry Potter and Narnia. He really develops the characters richly with all of their quirks, issues and questionable choices. Quentin is the anti-hero – he’s not that nice and screws people over but you can’t help but like him (most of the time). It also has that literary quality that many people miss in many fantasy books. I really enjoyed this book and give it eight shoes!

Three Appeals : Fantastical story, literary quality, rich character development

Red Flags: Sex, Violence, Drugs, Language –Satan’s Quartet;)

If you like The Magicians try :

1) Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Centuries ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairles, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic. Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats. But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear. – This is an awesome book! (taken from Fantasic Fiction)

2) Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

When he was 19, James Stark was considered to be one of the greatest natural magicians, a reputation that got him demon-snatched and sent downtown – to Hell – where he survived as a gladiator, a sideshow freak entertaining Satan’s fallen angels. That was 11 years ago. Now, the hitman who goes only by Stark has escaped and is back in L.A. Armed with a fortune-telling coin, a black bone knife, and an infernal key, Stark is determined to destroy the magic circle – led by the conniving and powerful Mason Faim – that stole his life. Though nearly everything has changed, one constant remains: his friend Vidocq, a 200-year-old Frenchman who has been keeping vigil for the young magician’s return. But when Stark’s first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head that belongs to the first of the circle, a sleazy video store owner named Kasabian, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than he counted on, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. . .(taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Doctor Impossible—evil genius, diabolical scientist, wannabe world dominator—languishes in a federal detention facility.  He’s lost his freedom, his girlfriend, and his hidden island fortress. Over the years he’s tried to take over the world in every way imaginable: doomsday devices of all varieties (nuclear, thermonuclear, nanotechnological) and mass mind control.  He’s traveled backwards in time to change history, forward in time to escape it.  He’s commanded robot armies, insect armies, and dinosaur armies.  Fungus army.  Army of fish.  Of rodents.  Alien invasions.  All failures.  But not this time.  This time it’s going to be different…  Fatale is a rookie superhero on her first day with the Champions, the world’s most famous superteam.  She’s a patchwork woman of skin and chrome, a gleaming technological marvel built to be the next generation of warfare.  Filling the void left by a slain former member, we watch as Fatale joins a team struggling with a damaged past, having to come together in the face of unthinkable evil.  (taken from Fantastic Fiction)


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Witches, Werewolves and Vampires – OH MY!

I hope you are feeling lucky today because I have been a-readin’! Like myself, some of you may feel that the whole vampire, werewolf supernatural thing is played out. After being subjected to the particularly odiously written Twilight as well as numerous mentions of Team Edward/Team Jacob (p.s. Edward wins!!) loyalty from tweens and adults, I was ready to stop with the whole genre. But I read so many good things about the three books (that’s right I said three!!) I am reviewing today that I had to give in and submit. And I am so glad that I did. Friends you are in for an adult treat…

Our first book is a little gem called A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness. Diana Bishop is a witch from a long line of witches. However, she has decided to renounce the whole magic thing since her parents were killed in some horrific magic ritual in Nigeria (personally I would just maybe renounce exotic travel instead of the whole magic thing but that’s just me). She is now an Oxford scholar poring over old alchemical manuscripts in the Bodleian library. So she really doesn’t expect anything interesting to happen when she retrieves another manuscript called the Ashmole 482. She takes a look at it, finds nothing that interesting and puts it back in the stacks. But alas, she has actually discovered a super important magical manuscript which sets the underworld abuzz. Soon witches, daemons, and vampires are descending on the library which she finds pretty unnerving but tries to ignore. One vampire seems particularly interested in her-Matthew Clairmont, a Oxford geneticist. Soon Matthew and Diana are working together as things get more and more dangerous and they discover more about the mysterious manuscript, the mystery of Diana’s parents murder and a whole host of other things.

I really enjoyed this book. Diana and Matthew are both fun, interesting, flawed, strong and believable characters who just happen to be fantastical creatures of the night. Although the book is certainly not a thriller, it does have thrilling moments and has that easy conversational style among characters that you wish you had with your friends including sarcastic commentary and witty repartee. I’m totally hooked on the mysteries and can’t wait to read the next books in the trilogy. Although sometimes the pacing can be slow and in the middle my attention started to wane, I kept going and enjoyed the ending. Of course it also gets extra points for taking place in a library at the beginning. See they are exciting! This book is a pair of leopard print flats – super cute and wearable, eight shoes.

Three Appeals : historical details, mystery, fantastical settings and creatures

Red Flags: Some Violence and Sexual Situations

If you liked this book here are some more you might like:

1) The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright – a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – Katherine Howe

While clearing out her grandmother’s cottage for sale, Connie Goodwin finds a parchment inscribed with the name Deliverance Dane. And so begins the hunt to uncover the woman behind the name, a hunt that takes her back to Salem in 1692 . . . and the infamous witchcraft trials. But nothing is entirely as it seems and when Connie unearths the existence of Deliverance’s spell book, the Physick Book, the situation takes on a menacing edge as interested parties reveal their desperation to find this precious artefact at any cost. What secrets does the Physick Book contain? What magic is scrawled across its parchment pages? Connie must race to answer these questions – and reveal the truth about Salem’s women – before an ancient family curse once more fulfils its dark and devastating prophecy . . .(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3) The Witch’s Daughter – Paula Brackston
In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate: the Warlock Gideon Masters. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers and making her immortal. She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he will be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.
In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life. Her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl named Tegan starts hanging around. Against her instincts, Elizabeth teaches Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories – and demons – long thought forgotten. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
Ok, on the next book – The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Jake is a werewolf – and not the nice, chest-baring, protecting innocent girls from vampire kind that we find in some other unnamed novel – but the kind who eats people. You’ve got your classic anti-hero in this book. Jake also likes to have indiscrimate sex especially with prostitutes, drinks and smokes all day long, all while trying to evade his enemies including vampires and a mysterious organization that is killing werewolves. When he learns that HE is the last werewolf Jake comes to a conclusion – he is tired of life and ready to die. That’s right – he’s a suicidal werewolf. As he is counting down his last days, Jake has a chance meeting that changes his entire outlook. Will he be able to survive?
I totally dug this book! It really got me because I thought it brough some original ideas to a seemingly tired genre. First, it seems like most of these books are from a female point of view – usually victim but occassionally perpetrator. Jake is extremely male, with all the sex and not caring about personal hygiene and eating people and such. Occassionally he has a sensitive side that makes you like him, really you can’t help it. Secondly, it was written in journal form which I also found a little bit different from the usual supernatural genre. Lastly, he is suicidal…. and yes I know many of these things can be connected to Anne Rice but unlike her vampire, Jake is giving up because he feels bad about what he has done. Really he’s just tired of life. This book is thrilling but also explores what makes Jake the way he is. As so many of these books seem to do, it started to wane a little bit in the middle but then it got right back to the excitement. I also give this eight shoes – totally enjoyable.
Three Appeals : male perspective, fantasy, original story
Red Flags : Extreme sex, language and violence – not for children!!
If you liked the Last Werewolf, then try:
1) The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock
Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his ‘prayer log.’  There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) The Pack by Jason Starr
When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss’s betrayal. Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life- and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys’ night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality. As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their “pack,” they were talking about much more than male bonding. And as he falls prey to his basest instincts, Simon must accept that werewolves exist if he is to turn the tides of his fortune…
Now for the last book review….The Radleys by Matt Haig. I would say that this is the most literary of the bunch so if you are not super into the fantasy/horror thing this might be your cup of tea. The Radleys are your average suburban dysfunctional family. Peter is the local doctor, in love with his wife but considering an affair because his wife has stopped all his advances. Helen, unhappy housewife, who tries not to think about a fateful night in Paris with another man. Claire, their daughter, who has become a vegan in an attempt to get animals to like her and Rowan, their son, who is shunned by most of classmates. When Claire commits a passionate act of violence, it unleashes a tidal wave of activity as well as revealing the secret that Peter and Helen have been trying to keep for seventeen years. They are vampires.
I think this was my favorite from the three books. It was written in many short chapters from the viewpoints of almost of every character in the book. You got a little taste of what life was like for each of the characters. It deals with a lot of different themes while still maintaining the horror aspect of vampirism. Haig explores nature vs. nurture, the family as a unit, the nature of love, etc…. I would probably call this the thinking person’s vampire book. I left this book feeling satisfied. I would give this book eight and a half shoes – I love it when you put down a book or watch a movie and you keep thinking about it for a couple hours afterward.
Three Appeals : Literary quality, fantastical elements, strong characters
Red Flags : Some sex, violence and language
If you like the Radleys try :
1) The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by D.C. Pierson
When Darren Bennett meets Eric Lederer, there’s an instant connection. They share a love of drawing, the bottom rung on the cruel high school social ladder and a pathological fear of girls.  Then Eric reveals a secret: He doesn’t sleep. Ever.  When word leaks out about Eric’s condition, he and Darren find themselves on the run. Is it the government trying to tap into Eric’s mind, or something far darker?  It could be that not sleeping is only part of what Eric’s capable of, and the truth is both better and worse than they could ever imagine. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) The Dead Father’s Club by Matt Haig
Eleven-year-old Philip Noble has a big problem. It all begins when his dad appears as a ghost at his own funeral and introduces Philip to the Dead Fathers Club. Philip learns the truth about ghosts: the only people who end up ghosts are MURDERED. So begins Philip’s quest to avenge his dad. Hilariously funny, it is full of poignant insights into the strange workings of the world seen through the eyes of a child.
Whew….I’ve done my work. Hope you enjoy these books!
I would also like to put out the call… if you have a question about what to read next leave a comment on this page. I would like to find a volunteer that I can find books for and post about it on the blog.
Trina B.

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Book Review – Divergent

I don’t know about everyone else in the world but ever since I read The Hunger Games I’ve been obsessed with YA dystopian trilogies- I can’t seem to get enough. I’ve read some amazing ones – The Giver (some believe the first YA dystopian novel) and  The Mazerunner and some not so awesome ones – I couldn’t even finish Gone….annoying characters although the premise seemed intriguing. I was really excited about Divergent and I’ve gotta say that it didn’t disappoint! Was it Hunger Games good? Well maybe not quite there but it was exciting and left me wanting more….always a good sign.

Beatrice Prior lives in post-apocalyptic America. She lives in Chicago, which was virtually destroyed because of war sometime in the past (they don’t go into much detail). In order to avoid war, people have divided themselves into five seperate factions : Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Abnegation (the selfless) and Dauntless (the brave). Each faction is appointed to a task to keep society running i.e. Abnegation are appointed leaders since they are less likely to seek out power for themselves. On your sixteenth birthday, each member must take a test that will determine what faction they should choose and then a day later, they must choose what faction they will pledge their lives to. If you choose a faction different from your family, you will not see them again (except on Visitor’s day). When we meet Beatrice she is about to take the test and is extremely torn because she isn’t selfless and doesn’t believe she will stay in Abnegation. Her fears are confirmed when she takes the test and the results are “Divergent” meaning she is suited to more than one faction. The test giver tells her this is dangerous and to NEVER tell anyone about her result. When Beatrice chooses her faction (I’m not going to give it away) we follow her in her training and as she learns more about the inner workings of the faction. As she learns more about being divergent, she also begins to suspect that there is something more sinister going on between the factions. Meanwhile, she meets a strange and enigmatic boy named Four….he is at once intriguing and annoying. Will Beatrice do well in her faction? Will she find out what being Divergent is and why is it so dangerous? Is there a secret plot? Is Four part of it? Does Four like her? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Fast-paced and action packed, Divergent really delivers on many of the same levels that Hunger Games did. We have a strong female character, she is sarcastic, tough, yet vulnerable in many ways. We get to know her friends in her new faction as well as her enemies. There is a sense of competition in Beatrice’s new faction and this really adds to the thrilling narrative of the story. The world that Veronica Roth has created is both horrible and wonderful, full of the details of the ruins of the America we all know. While we cannot understand the reasons why this society has chosen to divide themselves, we are fascinated with their new rules and societal regulations. Not to mention, Four seems very hot in a sensitive bad boy way 😉 All in all, this was a really fun quick read that I think anyone who enjoyed Hunger Games would also enjoy. I give it eight shoes – a sweet pair of BCBG wedges that I found on sale at TJ Maxx – both wearable and adorable.

Three Appeals : thrilling and fast-paced, strong female heroine, good dystopian fantasy world

Red Flags: Some violence and gore

If you liked Divergent then try :

1) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Often cited as the best book to introduce new readers to science fiction, this is considered a classic. This amazing novel follows Ender, a young exceptional boy who is taken from his family at the tender age of six to train at Battle School. There he must excel at mock battle games while comtending with his fellow students. The invasion is coming and Ender will be pushed to his limits at the school. Can he save humanity? This is an amazing book and I would highly recommend it to anyone – a definite ten shoe book!

2) Enclave by Ann Aguirre

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they  survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’  has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters,  identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has  wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear–to brave the dangerous  tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while  evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this  goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a  beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes  her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and  harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks  he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear  the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be  telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy  like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives  with feral grace. As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant   battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the   elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the  enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter  how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.  (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him  –  something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

4) Delirium by Lauren Oliver

What if love were a disease? There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

There you go my loyal friends : As always please let me know if you read this book and how you liked it.

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Book Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children & Soulless

I just read two of the most interesting books I’ve ever read! (Aren’t you jealous?….) One for being different and innovative, the other for being just plain fun. You are in for a treat my fellow readers…enjoy!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the debut novel by Ransom Riggs (could his name sound more made up? – but I digress). Ransom has a fun hobby – he goes to auctions, garage sales, etc.. and looks for old photographs that interest him. Maybe they have writing on them that adds something to the image, maybe it is a particularly striking image but either way he picks these photos up. What does this have to do with his book? Riggs has used photos from his other similarly minded friends and created a world. A fantasy world filled with “peculiar” children.

The story goes that young sophomore Jacob Portman has been told fantastical stories about an island where his grandfather lived as a child during WWII to escape from the Nazis. His grandfather shows him pictures of “peculiar” children and tells him about how happy he was living there. His grandfather dies in front of his eyes after what he thinks is a horrific accident with a cryptic dying utterance. Jacob decides to visit the island in Wales to deal with the trauma of his loss and possibly discover what his grandfather wanted him to seek out. When he gets to the island, he discovers the house has been abandoned and dilapidated. Jacob thinks he is going crazy but he hears children at the house and sees things move. It gets even crazier when he actually starts meeting and talking with the children of the home – who appear unchanged since the photographs were taken – in 1940!  Is Jacob going crazy or will he discover the secret of Miss Peregrine’s home?

I really enjoyed this book. One of the things that made it delightful were the accompanying photographs of the children and the home. All of the photographs are actually vintage from collections and really add to the flavor of the book. The story is fun YA fantasy with a little gothic flavor thrown in. You have the feeling when you look at the pictures that these people are sideshow freaks turned into heroes. Because of the pictures I have to strongly recommend getting the paper copy – it’s totally worth it.

My only beef with this book was some lack of character development. While Jacob is a believable teenage boy with his own sensitivities, hangups and boyish confidence, the other characters in the book were not fleshed out too much. The ending of the book seemed ripe for a sequel so I’m hoping that we will get more info in subsequent books. That being said, this is a fun YA book especially if you like fantasy. I give it four stars.

Three Appeals: Unique appearance/photos, thrilling, fantasy aspects

Red Flags : Some violence, some language – very mild

On to the next book – Soulless by Gail Carriger. Can you say OB-sessed? Because that is what I am !!!! Some of you may remember me recommending this book in my Clockwork Angel post as an adult steampunk book. It is steampunk but it is so much more – it’s a little bit comedy, a little bit mystery, mixed in with paranormal fantasy not to mention delicious Scottish romance. Ok so here is the lowdown…. Alexia Tarabotti has a problem. Some upstart vampire just tried to attack her and then had the bad manners to also die! Now Lord Maccon, the Queen Victoria’s head paranormal investigator, and also hot Scottish werewolf, has been sent to investigate the death. What makes this death seem so peculiar is that Alexia is soulless, she has the ability to nullify any paranormal powers that either vampires or werewolves possess, so she is typically avoided like the plague by both of the paranormal sects. When more strange vampire deaths happen and Alexia’s files are stolen from Lord Maccon’s office, the pair must find out what is going on in London. If they can keep from killing each other.

OMG – have I mentioned that I really loved this book! Is it the next great literary novel? No. But it is a lot of fun and you can read it in about two days (if you shun all human contact and hunker down in a chair like I did). I give this book four and a half stars. The story was fun and not predictable. The romantic elements were everything you wanted them to be – sassy and a little bit dangerous but still within the bounds of proper English society. The paranormal alternative world that Carriger has created is really different – vampires and werewolves are out in society and even accepted by the English Victorian royals. (Americans get the short end of the stick – we are the bigoted zealots across the pond hunting down our fanged and furry brethren). This book also has this great tone of humor throughout – mostly at the little civilized rules of the English society in the face of these paranormal creatures. The last thing I’m going to mention is that this is the first book in the series “The Parasol Protectorate” – I mean seriously how delightful is that??

Three Appeals : paranormal romance, steampunk, mystery

Red Flags: gory, sexual situations, some language (pretty mild)

So go right now and put a hold on these books at the library … go ahead I’ll wait! ………

As always, please leave me a comment when you read these books and let me know what you think.

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Filed under book review, fantasy, four stars, paranormal, Romance, YA