Genre: Supernatural

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – Review

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – ReviewThe Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Will Patton
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is a young adult supernatural novel entering around Blue Sargent, Gansy and their search for Welsh king Glendower.  It is a quartet made up of The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue and The Raven King.  it is told from multiple points of view.

I will say that it took me some time to get into this series – at least two attempts of starting the book, and putting it down again.  This is despite a kickass opening in which the whole conflict of the series is laid out; it is foretold that Blue will kill her one true love when she kisses him, and Gansy is fated to die within the year. That is the hook to lure you into this series – you can’t help but want to know if these foretellings come true.  My initial struggle with this book is partly because, at first glance, the main protagonists are rather unappealing.  Gansy comes across as rich, arrogant and entitled.  Ronan is snarky and belligerent.  Adam is stubborn and independent to a fault and Noah is insipid.  It’s only when you get further into the books that the deeper layers of these characters are revealed and your understanding of them deepens.  After that I was very happy to continue marathoning the series.

There is a whole arc running through the series with resolutions of plot points in the first book only coming through in the final instalment.  Each book has its own theme which feeds into the major series story arc.  It is very well tied together if not overly complex. The Raven Boys is all about the setup; introducing the main driving plot of the series, the characters and the world.  The Dream Thieves is Ronan’s story and how his ability will aid his friends in their quest.  Blue Lily, Lily Blue focusses on Blue and also on deepening the relationships amongst the group and The Raven King ties everything up.  

What I liked

The characters.  The well written, nuanced and flawed characters and their relationships are the highlight of this series.  Stiefvater has developed a wonderful set of characters and the relationships that develop among them are beautiful to read.  They truly are stronger because they know each other.  The relationships are all unique; Blue acts differently with Noah than she does with Adam, and Gansy has a different relationship to Ronan than to Noah.  Additionally, the characters we meet in The Raven Boys are not the same ones we say farewell to in The Raven King – they have been changed by their experiences and each other.  That is one thing that always attracts me to a book series. It is mainly for the characters and character development that I continued reading this series.  I loved that each member of the group has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and each has a part to play in the story.

The world.  I loved the world Stiefvater created.  The kind of supernaturalness – ley lines, tarot, spiritualists/mediums – is one that always gets under my skin.  It’s superbly well done.

What I didn’t like

Not immediately likeable protagonists.  Though I was fascinated by the characters and engaged in their stories, I didn’t love them the way that I have loved some other protagonists.  Their stories were wonderful to read, but I’m not exactly sure I’d like to meet up with any of them for coffee.  After four books, I certainly felt as if I understood Gansy, Ronan and Adam a great deal better, even if I didn’t necessarily always like them.  This weakened the ending somewhat for me.

The Raven Cycle is an excellent series and well worth reading for the well written, nuanced characters and worldbuilding.  As a whole I gave the series four stars out of five.

four-stars

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016

yellowbrickwar

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Again, it’s been a month where I’ve really struggled to focus on reading and blogging.  I really should be more ruthless about putting books into my Did Not Finish pile.  I spent too much of the month plodding through books which really weren’t doing anything for me.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #3
Also in this series: Dorothy Must Die
Format: eBook
Pages: 288 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

With regards to Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, I’ll be perfectly honest and say that my opinion and rating is heavily influenced by my – mistaken – impression that this was the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series.  This is a series involving an updating and reimagining of the world of L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. I had been expecting, and looking forward to, resolution to the plot points introduced in Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise.  So coming towards the end of the book when I realised there were no resolutions coming, I felt annoyed and frustrated.  My own fault, I freely admit it.  Had I known there was one more book to come, I could have better appreciated the continued excellent worldbuilding and character development in Yellow Brick War.  I will certainly read the conclusion when it comes out.  I look forward to reading the conclusion of Amy’s story.

I gave Yellow Brick War three stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
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Evelynne's rating: two-stars

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is one I should probably have consigned to the Did Not Finish pile much sooner than I did.  The concept sounded fascinating.  In Cavallaro’s world Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were real and their modern day teen descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet up at an exclusive boarding school to solve mysteries.  It’s clear that a significant effort was made to reflect the personalities of Holmes and Watson in a modern day setting and to some extent it succeeded.  What completely turned me off this book is that the author introduced sexual tension between Holmes and Watson.  With that partnership it is a meeting of minds, not bodies and I personally lost all interest in the story after that.  That is a personal opinion and your mileage may vary.

A Study in Charlotte rated barely two stars out of five on my scale.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 468 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

This was my second attempt to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys.  The first time I started, I just couldn’t get into it at all.  This second attempt was much more successful.  It’s clear that this is setting up a series.  The book opens with a real bang – Blue is fated to meet and/or kill her one true love within the next year.  I definitely want to read how that plays out.  There were multiple points introduced that I expect will pay off in later books – I would say Stiefvater is an architect rather than a gardener.  I found the characters interesting even if not all of them are immediately likeable – or intended to be so.  The type of supernatural events in this book are ones that to me, personally, are very creepy.  I will have to take a break and read a cutesy contemporary to clear my mind before I start The Dream Thieves!

I gave The Raven Boys four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Format: eBook
Pages: 350 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fire Touched is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  I must admit I wasn’t overly excited about reading it.  I like Mercy and the rest of her allies; I just feel after nine books her story has pretty much come to an end.  I’ve felt that way for the last couple of books.  It’s like a long established, high quality TV procedural.  You pretty much know what you are going to get going into it, but you still enjoy it.  I keep saying I’m not going to read any more, yet I still do and still enjoy them.

I gave Fire Touched three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I’m beginning to get excited about Book Expo of America, BEA, in Chicago in May.  This will be my first time there, so if any of you old hats could give me some tips that would be very much appreciated.

Upcoming releases in April

There are two books coming out in April about which I’m rather excited.  

The first of these is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This is a young adult fantasy and I was drawn to it by the concept; what happens to young people like Alice or Dorothy when they return home from Wonderland or Oz?  How do they adapt?  Every Heart a Doorway is released on April 5th and I’ve preordered it in Kindle format.

The second is Eligible, the next in the Austen Project series of modern retellings of Jane Austen classics.  Eligible is the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and is written by Curtis Sittenfeld.  There is a sneak peek of the audiobook available on SoundCloud, which sounds fantastic.  I have preordered the book in audiobook format based on this snippet.  That’s not to say I don’t have my concerns.  The Austen project adaptations have ranged from the bland and uninspired (Emma, Sense and Sensibility) to the very, very good (Northanger Abbey).  Pride and Prejudice is probably the best known – and most adapted – of Austen’s works and Eligible has a lot of work ahead of it to compare to the superb Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube series. I am intrigued that Sittenfeld has moved the story to Cincinnati and aged up our protagonists to nearly 40, giving a more modern pressure point for Lizzie and Jane to look for a husband.  It could well work, and from the snippet I am cautiously optimistic.  Eligible is released on April 26th.

Have a good week and will review more books soon. 

three-stars

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks – Review

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks – ReviewOf Poseidon by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Length: 9 hours and 32 mins
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks is a YA fantasy novel which tells the story of Emma McIntosh who after a tragic incident at a beach meets Galan Forza, one of the Syrena, or merfolk, who believes Emma may be a Syrena of the line of Poseidon, putting her in a position to end wars between the merfolk.   Emma, on the other hand, knows nothing of her heritage.  I did enjoy Of Poseidon, and will very likely read the sequels at some point.  However, I wouldn’t say the book was fantastic or a must-read.  

What I liked

Fun protagonist.  I really liked the way Emma was written.  She is fun, sparky and realistic.  I enjoyed her interactions with Galen and the rest of his entourage.  I was disappointed we didn’t get to see more of her friendship with Chloe – that would have been fun to read about.  I felt the tragedy gave Emma more depth than she might have otherwise had.

Interesting subplots.  There are several subplots woven throughout the story and they were well done – it was also great the way they were woven into the main plot in the end reveal. 

The worldbuilding.  I enjoyed the world of the Syrena that Banks built, even though we didn’t get to see a great deal of it.  We learned of it mainly through the mythology and history and second hand from Galen and his friends.  I hope to see more of it first hand from Emma’s perspective in future books.

The narration.  I enjoyed Rebecca Gibel’s narration.  She brought out Emma’s spunkiness and Galen’s initial hastiness very well.

What I didn’t like

The romantic subplot.  I didn’t buy into the whole instant attraction thing.  I also felt the obstacle placed in the way of their romance was rather contrived.

Despite that, Of Poseidon is definitely a fun way to pass a few hours.  I gave it three and a half stars out of four.

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three-half-stars

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris – Review

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris – ReviewMidnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
Series: ,
Format: eBook
Pages: 315 pages
Genres: Contemporary, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Midnight Crossroad is the first in a new supernatural mystery series from Sookie Stackhouse writer Charlaine Harris.  it has a very similar feel to Sookie and if you enjoyed that series you will likely get a lot of pleasure from Midnight Crossroad, too.  This new series is set in Texas rather than Louisiana, but keeps that small-town feel.  It centres on the inhabitants of a small town, Midnight, and the secrets they hide.  
 
I’m not certain if this is intended to be set in the same world as Sookie.  It’s perhaps a little early to tell – it could go either way.  There is nothing to say one way or the other.  In any case, it is very enjoyable.
 
What I liked

Ensemble cast.  Unlike The Southern Vampire Mystery series, which concentrates mainly on Sookie, and is told from her point of view, Midnight Crossroad has multiple points of view from interesting characters.  I enjoyed hearing from all of them, and it was interesting hearing the story from different sides.  Each of the characters had his or her own secret and reason for moving to this small town.  Sometimes I did struggle to remember which characters know what secrets.
 
Mr Snuggly the cat.  Adorable!  I loved his point of view.  Let’s just say, he’s not Tara the Hero cat. It gives a good measure of the kind of town Midnight is, that upon learning that Fiji’s cat can talk, after a few seconds of surprise, the inhabitants merely shrug their shoulders and put it down to just one more strange thing in the town.  More, please.
 
The mystery.  While I wouldn’t say the mystery was gripping, I did very much enjoy the way that the focus was put on the effect it had on the inhabitants of Midnight.  The story was quite slow to start, but Harris uses this time well to introduce her characters and the town.  
 
Community feel.  I liked the way the characters came together, supported each other and generally had each others’ backs.  We are introduced to the people of Midnight through new resident Manfred and he, too, quickly becomes part of the community.
 
What I didn’t like

There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about the book.  Perhaps the mystery could have been a little more complex, but in a way this allowed the focus to be on getting to know the residents of Midnight.  
 
I gave Midnight Crossroad a solid four stars out of five and will certainly be following the rest of the series.
 
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    four-stars

    Reading Roundup – 23rd May 2014

    Next week sees the release of City of Heavenly Fire – the last in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series and the marketing is in full swing.  The book trailer was released recently – check it out.

    For me the most interesting thing about it was Sophie Turner’s voiceover – I had been intrigued to see how she handles the audiobook narration.  From what I see she will do well.  I’m really excited to listen to the audiobook, now.  Simon and Schuster has released a snippet of the audiobook which you can listen to below.

    Again this has whetted my appetite for the book.  I’m not familiar with Jason Dohring, so I can’t say what his narration will be like, but I’m looking forward to it anyway.

    Kat of Katytastic and Christine of PolandBananasBOOKS have come up with some theories.  I’m not entirely sold on their Izzy theory, but their enthusiasm for the book is so infectious.  Go check it out if you want some ideas.

    On Tor.com this week you can find an excerpt of upcoming YA fantasy Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.  It tells the story of Kelsea, a princess in hiding who must now take back her mother’s throne and deal with the legacy of her mother’s rule.  This has been generating considerable buzz and it has been on my radar for a while.  The excerpt caught my attention and I will certainly be picking this one up, likely in audiobook as it’s been narrated by one of my favourite narrators Katherine Kellgren.

    Another book that has been gaining rave reviews this week is The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet: A Novel, the novelisation of Bernie Su’s transmedia hit The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  Here are my thoughts on why you need to go watch this.  It was recently announced that Ashley Clement, who played the titular Lizzie Bennet, is narrating the audiobook version, so I definitely will pick that up.

    I was excited to hear this week that the third book in D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker chronicles is coming out next month!  I’ve really loved this series about a thieftaker/conjurer in 18th century Boston and I will certainly be checking out A Plunder of Souls.

    Reading Roundup – 23rd May 2014Gameboards of the Gods by Richelle Mead
    Series: Age of X #1
    Format: eBook
    Pages: 462 pages
    Genres: New Adult, Supernatural
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    Evelynne's rating: two-stars

    I had wanted to check out Richelle Mead’s (of Vampire Academy fame) new series Age of X but I hadn’t been too impressed with the sample I downloaded.  When I saw Gameboard of the Gods was available in ebook format from my local library I was happy to take the chance.  I’m about a third of the way through it and in all honestly I am not going to finish it.  First I should point out that this is what is called a New Adult book.  The protagonists are a little older than in YA and their concerns tend to be a little more adult than those in YA.  

    I really wanted to like the book given how much I enjoyed Vampire Academy, but I really struggled with the painfully slow pacing, and confusing worldbuilding.  One of the things Mead does exceptionally well is writing character relationships and I felt she was handicapping herself unnecessarily by giving us two protagonists in Justin and Mae who are essentially loners.  I really missed the snarky interactions of Vampire Academy that come from knowing someone intimately.

    Perhaps if I’d persevered with this, it might have got interesting – certainly, the whole mythos of the gods returning (at least that’s what I get from the blurb – at a third of the way through that has not even been hinted at.  Sorry but this is going in my did not finish pile.

    Added to my library this week

    Amazon had the first three chapters of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane free, so I picked that up.  My local library had the audiobook of Gaiman’s own narration so I decided to give that a go.  I’ve only read a couple of Gaiman’s books and have found that I either love them (Neverwhere) or really don’t enjoy them at all (American Gods) so we’ll see how I find this one.

    My biggest splurge of the week though came with the announcement that the first seven Dresden Files by books were all available for $1.99 each!  The entire series is on my wish list so this was too good an offer to pass up.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, it’s about wizard Harry Dresden  who lives in Chicago and has to contend with the supernatural world while eking out a living.  I had the first five already, so I picked up numbers six and seven.  These books are all Whispersync for Voice enabled, so I took the opportunity to get James Marsters’ narration for a considerably reduced price.  

    I’ve heard good things about Trudi Cavanagh’s writing so when I saw her latest book, Thief’s Magic, was on special offer for $2.80 I was excited to try it.  The premise seemed intriguing – a sentient book! – so I look forward to reading it.

    two-stars

    Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – Review

    Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – ReviewRebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
    Series: Rebel Belle #1
    Format: Audiobook
    Narrator: Amy Rubinate
    Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
    Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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    Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

    Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is a young adult supernatural novel which tells the story of Southern belle teen Harper Price who, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, finds herself with supernatural abilities and the awesome responsibility that comes along with them.  While there was a lot I liked about the book, there was still a great deal I felt could have been handled better.
     
    What I liked

    The writing style.  This is the first book by Hawkins that I have read and I did really enjoy her fresh, witty writing style.  There was a lot of humour to be mined from the juxtaposition of Harper’s Southern belle character and her new kickass ninja powers and I enjoyed that very much.   I also felt the pacing was kept brisk and the storyline moved along nicely.
     
    The narration.  I listened to Rebel Belle in audiobook format, which is narrated by Amy Rubinate.  Now, I’d not been too fond of Rubinate’s narration of Kiera Cass’s The Selection series, but I did enjoy listening to her read Rebel Belle.  Perhaps the smart, sassy heroine of this book is better suited to Rubinate’s narrative style.  Here’s a sample
     
     
      
    The concept. The concept of oracles, paladins and mages was very interesting and i enjoyed reading about it.  However, the execution wasn’t always logical and/or consistent.
     
    What I didn’t like

    Bland characters.  Other than Harper, the other characters come across as very two dimensional.  Ryan, Harper’s original love interest, is nice but there’s nothing to distinguish him from a million other teenage boys.  The villain of the piece is also very underdeveloped.  She is not present enough in the book to develop sufficient tension.  
     
    Harper’s “logic”.  At times I became so frustrated with Harper’s way of thinking.  So many times she seemed to find that two plus two equals five and at other times she seemed to willfully ignore what was right in front of her.  While some of it I could put down to unreliable narrator, a lot of it did seem very convenient.  At times I was uncertain if it was good characterisation that a lot of Harper’s motivations come from personal grief, or if the way the character was written was clumsy.   The ending was also very contrived.  The error she makes at the end just doesn’t make any sense.  
     
    I gave Rebel Belle three and a half stars out of five.  I probably will check out the next book in the series.  I hear Hawkins’ Hex Hall series is better so I will probably pick that up at some point.
     
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    three-half-stars

    Codex Angelicus by Anne Robillard – Review

    Codex Angelicus by Anne Robillard – ReviewCodex Angelicus by Anne Robillard
    Series: A.N.G.E. #5
    Format: eBook
    Pages: 448 pages
    Genres: Supernatural
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    Evelynne's rating: four-stars

    Codex Angelicus by the Quebecoise author Anne Robillard is the fifth entry in her A.N.G.E. series.  This contains 10 books of which five are currently available in ebook format.  For those of you unfamiliar with this series, A.N.G.E. stands for Agence Nationale de Gestion de l’Étrange (National Agency for the Management of the Bizarre) and refers to the top secret agency which investigates paranormal phenomena.  We are introduced to the Agency in book 1 through new recruit Cindy Bloom.  Cindy is only one of the many fascinating characters in the series.  Sadly it is only available in French right now.  I have read books 1-5 and here are my thoughts on the series up til now.

    What I liked

    Steady plot developments and twists. Throughout the series Robillard has built up the plot.  We start off with Cindy being assigned to the False Prophets department under the tutelage of Oceane Chevalier – False Prophets is referred to as the new agents’ kindergarten as it’s normally a very safe and boring field where nothing much happens.  Of course, what they learn there drives the whole plot for the rest of the series.  Each subsequent book picks up on what has gone before and adds to it with new little twists.  

    Wonderful characters.  As you will see from Robillard’s previous work The Knights of Emerald, writing strong, relatable characters is one of Robillard’s strengths as a writer.  This is equally true in A.N.G.E.  The reader becomes invested in Cindy, Oceane, Cedric, Yannick and Vincent.

    Pacing.  One of my complaints about The Knights of Emerald was the slower pacing – at times Robillard seemed to lose the thread of where she was going.  That cannot be said about A.N.G.E.  The story keeps moving along at a good clip each volume building on the previous.  I really look forward to seeing where she Robillard goes with it.

    What I didn’t like

    Les relatable situations.  One of the things I loved most about Knights was that these fantastical characters were placed in very human situations.  While readers may not have fought supernatural beetles they can still relate to a character who, for example, has to deal with the fact that the woman he loves is in love with his best friend.  This relatability is not so apparent in A.N.G.E.  The situations faced by our characters are less something that a reader can relate to in his/her own life.  

    All in all I love Robillard’s writing and would recommend it.  I gave Codex Angelicus four stars out of five.

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    four-stars

    Reading Roundup – 28th March 2014

    This week I suffered every bookworm’s worst nightmare; I have a TBR list of over 100 books (some of which I have been offered free to review) and I could not interest myself in any of them.  This is because the book I really, REALLY wanted to read – AKA Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – has not been released yet.  I’m sure you avid readers can empathise with my dilemma.  I flicked through several different books and just couldn’t get into any of them.  In the end I managed to break out of my reading slump by picking up a book that is completely out of my normal genre – I’m currently reading The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak, a historical fiction set in Russia in the time of Catherine the Great.  So far I’m really enjoying it.  A full review will come soon.

    Reading Roundup – 28th March 2014Attack the Geek by Michael R. Underwood
    Series: Geekomancy #1.5
    Format: ARC
    Pages: 142 pages
    Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Supernatural
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    One book I did manage to read this week was Attack the Geek by Michael R Underwood, which I received free to review from Netgalley.  This is a novella in the Geekomancy series which had been on my radar for some time.  I was intrigued by the magic system which, like Jim C. Hines’ Magic ex Libris books, is based on popular culture.  However, whereas Hines’ magic is book based, Geekomancy is more gamer/comic book based.  I’m glad I read it.  It made me realise that the series is not quite for me.  I have been known to play the odd game of Dungeons and Dragons and I enjoy a Marvel movie as much as the next girl, but the overload of geek references was just too much for me.  Personally I was also put off by the amount of needless profanity.  The characters were possibly interesting, but in a novella length book character development is very limited.  With less geek references and less swearing I might have been interested in reading more about them but as it stands, this series is  not for me.

    I gave Attack the Geek two stars out of five.  Having said that, if D&D gaming is your thing you might love this series.  Other than that I would steer you in the direction of Magic ex Libris.

    Added to my library this week

    As I may have mentioned before, I am a big fan of the Quebecoise author Anne Robillard and her Chevaliers d’Emeraude and A.N.G.E. series.  These have slowly been converted into ebooks and book five in A.N.G.E. – Codex Angelicus – was released this week!  Excellent!  I’ve been waiting months to find out the next chapter in the saga of the Agence Nationale pour la Gestion de l’Etrange.  (National Agency for the Management of the Strange.)  I picked this one up in Kobo format as I have the rest of them there.   

    To get through my reading slump I also picked up The Winter Palace by Eva Strachniak, also in Kobo format.  In case you’re wondering, no I’m not abandoning my Kindle.  I happened to have my Kobo with me as that’s what I use to read my Netgalley books.

    From Amazon I did pick up The Wife of John the Baptist, a historical fiction novel set in Biblical times.  I was asked to review this by the author, so expect a review soon.

    This morning I received a lovely package from Tor-Forge which contained two gorgeous hardbacks:

    IMG 1032

    The Pilgrims is described as “ordinary alternate-world fantasy; with this first volume in The Pendulum Trilogy, Will Elliott’s brilliantly subversive imagination twists the conventions of the alternate-world fantasy genre, providing an unforgettable visionary experience.”  I look forward to reading this.

    Lockstep: “When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still—that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.”  Space opera is not my usual genre, but this sounds intriguing.

    Thank you Tor!

    Upcoming releases this month

    On 1st April 2014 we have my most anticipated book of the month – Dorothy Must Die.  This is the book that sent me into a reading slump because it wasn’t released yet and I didn’t want to read anything else because I wanted to read it so much.  Check out my review of There’s No Place Like Oz to see why I’m so excited about this book.  In short, it’s what happens in Oz when Dorothy goes bad.  I’ve preordered this in both Kindle and Audible formats.

    The following week, on the 8th of April, Dreams of Gods and Monsters is released.   This is the third in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  It’s difficult to summarise this series, so I’ll direct you to my review.  I loved the first book, and haven’t been able to get into the second.  However, I still have Dreams of Gods and Monsters on Kindle preorder.  It’s not yet available to preorder on Audible, which would be my preferred format – Khristine Hvam’s narration is excellent.

    The next book in the Austen Project, Val McDermid’s reimagining of Northanger Abbey is available in Kindle format on the 15th of April.  Interestingly the Audible pre-order is available this week.  I’m actually not familiar with Austen’s original work, so perhaps my expectations aren’t as high (and ready for disappointment as I was with the Sense and Sensibility updating)  I see this version is set in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders which is my old home, so I’m interested to see how it pans out.

    What are you looking forward to reading in April?

    Alienated by Melissa Landers – Review

    Alienated by Melissa Landers – ReviewAlienated by Melissa Landers
    Series: Alienated #1
    Format: eBook
    Pages: 352 pages
    Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
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    Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

    Alienated by Melissa Landers tells the story of Cara Sweeney, teenage high school student and Aelyx a young L’eihr visiting Earth.  The concept is pretty straightforward.  Some years prior to the story, the people of Earth had made contact with an alien civilisation the L’eihr.  The two peoples have an amicable if distant relationship and in order to foster a greater understanding of their respective cultures a student exchange program has been initiated.  Cara and Aelyx are chosen as two of the six young ambassadors for the program.  I have to say I really loved this book and thought it was beautifully written.

    What I liked

    Character development.  Both Cara and Aelyx undergo a great deal of character development throughout the book.  Interestingly, Cara’s arc is almost the opposite of many young adult protagonists.  She starts the book confident and sure of her path but as she goes through the challenges of the exchange, her self assurance is given quite a beating.  However she still remains true to her word despite significant pressure.  Aelyx’s journey is more of overcoming prejudice – he starts off determined to hate his human hosts and has an ulterior motive for joining the program.  As he gets to know his hosts – especially Cara – his attitude changes.  

    Grounded in realism.  OK, we are talking aliens here, but the basic concept and the reaction of the locals to Aelyx is all too familiar.  We may be in 21st century small town America with the townspeople protesting angrily at the presence of a L’eihr in their school, but we could just as easily be in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 with the first black students attending the high school.  The supernatural element is pretty low key in the book; much more emphasis is put on how Cara deals with the reaction of those against the program and of her growing relationship with Aelyx.

    What i wasn’t so fond of

    The romance.  I wasn’t really sold on this – I felt it moved too quickly from culture clash and prejudice to swapping saliva.  But then again, I’ve never been fond of teenage love at first sight romances.  

    I will certainly be checking out the sequel whenever it’s available – I look forward to reading more of these characters.  I gave Alienated four and a half stars out of five. 

     buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes

    four-half-stars

    Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – Review

    Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – ReviewBloodlines by Richelle Mead
    Series: Bloodlines #1
    Format: eBook
    Pages: 448 pages
    Genres: Supernatural
    Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
    Evelynne's rating: three-stars

    Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is the first in the Bloodlines series, the spinoff from Vampire Academy.  It follows the story of young Alchemist Sydney Sage whom we met in the Vampire Academy series.  In it, Sydney is tasked with protecting Jill Mastrano in Palm Springs and in order to do so attends an elite boarding school with her.  We learn more about the Alchemists and also some secrets about Vampire Academy characters are revealed.

    To be honest, Bloodlines didn’t grab me nearly as much as Vampire Academy did.  With VA we were introduced to interesting characters and they drew us into their fascinating world.  While reading VA I had been interested to learn more about the Alchemists, but other than Sydney the Alchemists we meet in Bloodlines are very unsympathetic characters which killed any interest I had in learning about their organisation.

    What I liked

    Sydney.  I did like Sydney in Bloodlines, and I feel her character has great scope for development.  I would love to see her develop from a competent if anxious and insecure operative to the kick ass Alchemist we know she can be.  I would also enjoy seeing her deal with the prejudices she’s carrying around from her upbringing.  However, I’m not sure that that is enough to make me want to continue with this series.

    The magic.  There were some new forms of magic hinted at in this book and I was intrigued by these.  What is the story with Sydney’s blood and what’s up with Ms Terwilliger?  These are intriguing hooks for the rest of the series.

    Pacing.  Once again Mead kept the story moving along.  There were no points at which it dragged for me.

    What I didn’t like

    Unsympathetic characters.  Poor Sydney does seem to be involved with some unsavoury characters within the Alchemists.  While I can empathise with her, I really don’t feel like learning more about this narrow-minded, cruel group.

    While I enjoyed Bloodlines to some extent and it contained some intriguing hooks for the rest of the series, for me personally at this point I probably won’t be continuing with it.  That could change; initially I didn’t warm to Vampire Academy.

    I gave Bloodlines three stars out of five.

     buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

    three-stars
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