Book Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

Torment is the second book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary (blurb taken from back cover)

Love never dies…

It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel.  But he waited for her.  Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts – immortals who want her dead.  During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives.  But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true?  Is it really their destiny to be together?  Or is Luce actually meant to be with somebody else?

Favourite Quote

Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere.  We can’t always understand them, but we have to trust in them.  I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.

Review

After struggling to enjoy reading the first book in the series, I don’t know if I would have read the second, Torment, only I had already bought it when I purchased Fallen.  The covers pulled me in and persuaded me to buy them.  And I’m sort-of glad they did, because I enjoyed Torment more than the previous instalment and I wouldn’t have known that.

I’m still not a big fan of Luce – I think her attitude is all wrong and she just comes across as a really selfish person on occasion.  Again, it is her friend who I am more interested in as a character.  In the last book it was Penn.  This time round it is Luce’s hippy roommate Shelby.

Parts of the book were still slow-going in places, and still there is stuff going on which is alluded to but never explained.  It doesn’t make it mysterious, only confusing.  However, it was certainly more enjoyable than Fallen to read, and the end really set up the third book in the series nicely.  So much so, that I’m intrigued to find out what happens next, something which I couldn’t envision myself thinking at the end of book one.

Rating

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

This is the first book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary  (blurb taken from the back of the book)

Some angels are destined to fall.

Instant. Intense.  Weirdly familiar…The moment Luce looks at Daniel she knows she has never felt like this before.  Except she can’t shake the feeling that she has…and with him…a boy she doesn’t remember ever setting eyes on.

Will her attempt to find out why enlighten her – or destroy her?

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a thrilling story about forbidden love.

Favourite Quote

Trust is a careless pursuit at best.  At worst, it’s a good way to get yourself killed.

Review

This was another book that hooked me via a really cool front cover.  Gothic, dark, mysterious artwork coupled with an engaging blurb (see summary above) had me buying not only the first book in the Fallen series, but book number two too!

And it was an all right story.  I didn’t really like Luce though.  My favourite character of the book was Luce’s friend Penn – full name Pennyweather Van Syckle-Lockwood.  She was the saving grace of this book.  The other characters lacked enough depth for me to really be interested in why they were there.

I expected more from this story.  It tried to be too mysterious, I think, and in so doing, basic explanations of what was going on were sacrificed.  However, I did read to the end of the book, I loved the front cover and Penn was an interesting character, hence the 2.5 / 5 score.

Had I not already bought the second book in the series, I am doubtful as to whether I would have read it.  But I did, and I have, and I will be sharing the review shortly.

Rating

2.5 / 5

Book Review: Guenevere: The Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles

Guenevere: The Queen of the Summer Country is the first novel in the Guenevere series by Rosalind Miles.

Summary

Guenevere is the last of the queens of the Summer Country, a pagan kingdom of ancient Britain, where the Great Goddess is venerated above all.  But times are changing.  Under the guidance of Merlin, Arthur, the secret son of the last High King of Britain, is on a quest to reclaim what is his by rights.  At the same time, a new religion is sweeping across the land.

The future seems uncertain.  When it is time for Guenevere to choose a husband and king to rule beside her, she must pick carefully.  The wrong choice could have disastrous consequences for the Summer Country.  So, in her hour of need, she summons to her the one man who can help her…Arthur.

Favourite Quote (or rather, 3 Favourite Quotes)

*

As Guenevere watched and listened, the power of the ritual stole over her, and her dread began to fade.  Lulled by the chanting, cocooned by the warm air, she fell into a trance. Now she could hear the secret music at the heart of things, and feel the breath of the mystery brushing against her cheek. Her senses swam in a pearly light like Avalon, and a great sweetness filled the air.

*

He came in a silver sunset at the end of a sweet spring day. The evening star was shining in a pearl-grey sky when the message was brought in.

*

On the far horizon, a white moon sailed up into the sky, bathing the earth with light. She could hear an owl calling from the nearby wood, and the soft cooing as the doves nestled down for the night.

*

Review

I thought I would really enjoy this book, and although there were parts of it that I did really like (such as the pagan descriptions of the Britain during the Dark Ages), the problem was, I didn’t really connect to the main characters.

When I first saw the title of the book, I thought that it was definitely a book for me. Then I saw the cover and I was smitten. Arthurian myths and legends are my thing; I’ve been reading about the subject since I was a child, both fictional stories (fantasy, historical, re-imaginings) and the history (or lack there of) behind them. So when I came across this, a story being told from Guenevere’s point of view as a strong queen in her own right, I was quite excited.

However, I think the book tries to do too much. Arthurian myth spans centuries, but this book attempts to weave a story from the pagan past, the spread of Christianity and the conflict between paganism and monotheism, as well as the early medieval obsession towards chivalry and courtly love. And in the midst of all this, I think something gets lost.

On the upside, the tale is full of beautiful passages of evocative descriptions, and it is this, above all else, that I will remember from this book.  I have included three quotes from Guenevere instead of the usual one to illustrate this and also in the hope that this review doesn’t come across as too negative, which isn’t my intention.  After all, I did read the book from cover to cover, and found the story itself to be well written, not to mention I adored a number of the locations found within the story, especially Avalon.

The question is, am I going to read the second novel in the series, The Knight of the Sacred Lake? At the moment, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that I will at some point in the future.

Rating

Book Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

switched-front-coverSwitched is the first book in the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking.

Summary:

Wendy Everly knew she wasn’t like everyone else when her mother tried to kill her when she was six years old, convinced that she was a monster.  A decade later, Wendy is living with her brother and her aunt.  They move around a lot because Wendy, who can’t settle, keeps getting thrown out of school.  But she has a secret…a secret power that means she can influence peoples thoughts and decisions to her own advantage.

When Finn, the new boy at school, starts staring at her intensely whenever they are in the same space, Wendy begins to worry.  Does he know her secret?  Or does he know more about her secret than she does?  One thing’s for sure…Wendy’s life will never be the same again…

Favourite Quote:

I look at you because I can’t look away.

Review:

I have only read one other Amanda Hocking novel before this one, Hollowland, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I came across Switched at the bookshop I knew I had to read it.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It took me a few pages to connect with the character of Wendy, but after reading further, if felt like that was intentional and the reason behind it unfolds as the story does.

Switched was a very easy book to read, thanks to the author’s writing style.  Also, the mythology around the Trylle is very different from what we know of trolls from myths and legends and that made the story fresh and exciting.  The other characters are likeable, and the story moves along at a good pace.  There is action, romance, loss, secrets and revelations all nicely woven into the plot.  The bonus short story at the back of the book was a great read too!

I have added Torn, the second book in the trilogy, to my “To Be Bought” list.

Rating:

four-stars

 

Book Review: The Ambassadors’ Mission by Trudi Canavan

the-ambassadors-mission-front-coverThe Ambassadors’ Mission is the first book in The Traitor Spy trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

The Traitor Spy Trilogy is the sequel to The Black Magician Trilogy (my reviews for which you can find here: The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice, The High Lord)

Set twenty years after The High Lord and the Ichani invasion, Sonea is now one of two Black Magicians in the Magicians’ Guild.  The Guild is still fearful of black magicians, so by having two, they can each ensure that the other is not getting up to anything they shouldn’t.  And that’s not the only change – Kyralia and the Guild have come quite far since our last visit.

Sonea and Akkarin’s son, Lorkin, has now completed his own studies at the Guild, but struggles a little, living in the shadow of such famous parents, and is feeling restless.  When he hears that Lord Dannyl, his mother’s friend and the former ambassador to Elyne, wants to go to Sachaka and become the new Guild Ambassador to the strange land to the north, Lorkin is determined to become his assistant.  But being Akkarin’s son has consequences, as he comes to discover.

Whilst this is going on, Sonea has problems of her own to deal with back in Imardin.  A “thief hunter” is on the loose in the city, killing off Thieves.  When an old friend is targeted, she is drawn into the hunt for the one responsible, especially because there is a suspicion that they might be a rogue magician…something she knows more than a little about…

As some of you may know if you’ve been around this blog long enough, Trudi Canavan is one of my favourite fantasy authors, which came about upon reading The Black Magician Trilogy. (Which, in my opinion, is one of the best trilogies ever written.)  And, the first book in the sequel trilogy certainly lives up to them.

It was great to catch up with some of the old characters: Sonea, Rothen, Cery and Dannyl, as well as get to know to some new ones: Lorkin, Tyvara and Anyi.  The way the plot has advanced over the twenty years between the series is consistent and believable, and the story flows with ease between the different story threads and points-of-view.

Sachaka is an interesting if harsh country, with customs quite different to those found in Kyralia.  There are no servants employed there, only slaves, something that makes Kyralians understandably uncomfortable.  And magic is quite different there too.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Ambassadors’ Mission, and look forward to reading book 2 in The Traitor Spy TrilogyThe Rogue.  I would gladly recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy fiction, but would suggest that they might want to read The Black Magician Trilogy before embarking on this one.

Book Review: Black Dawn by Rachel Caine

black-dawn-by-rachel-caine-front-coverBlack Dawn is the twelfth book in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

Morganville – the small Texan town where humans and vampires live together in relative harmony – is falling apart.  After the arrival of the draug, the only creature that can truly inspire fear in the heart of a vampire, things take a decidedly dark turn in the town.  When the draug show up, vampires either run or die.

However, whilst most of the town’s inhabitants have been evacuated, Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael decide to stay and take the fight to the draug.  They do, after all, have good reason to wish them dead.

But when Amelie, the town’s founder is bitten by the master draug, not only do they have to win the battle but find a cure…before it’s too late.

I am really enjoying reading the story from the many different viewpoints, so this development in the storytelling was a great idea.  It gives the reader a wider scope and can reveal more of what is going on beyond the the main character’s immediate environment.

The draug are an interesting enemy and I found learning how they effect both humans and vampires both scary and intriguing.  There are a few major plot twists that I did not anticipate, which is always great, and the pace of the story kept me hooked until the very end.

When you reach this far in a series, you always wonder how long the author can keep you interested in the characters and the trials they face.  That doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Morganville Vampires, I am happy to say.

I am looking forward to reading book thirteen in the series, and I am intrigued to find out where Morganville and its inhabitants can go from here.

Book Review: Last Breath by Rachel Caine

last-breath-front-coverLast Breath is the eleventh book in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

When vampires start to go missing in Morganville, the Texan town starts to get a little…unsettled.  But things are about to get even more unsettling as we learn the real reason why vampires who burn in the sun are living in the middle of the desert.

Claire has spotted a stranger in town, only for some reason, he makes her feel weird.  When she mentions him to her friends, they never noticed him.  But Claire knows he is trouble…really bad trouble…worse than any vampire-related trouble she could ever imagine…

What I thoroughly enjoyed about this instalment in the series was that the author took something that she tried with the previous book in the series (Bite Club) and expanded upon it.  I’m talking about offering the readers a glimpse into the minds of a few of the other main characters from the books by giving them chapters from their point of view.

The was the most emotional of the instalments so far, I have to say.  Some parts were just heartbreakingly sad.  Rachel Caine really knows how to capture trauma and emotions in words in such a way as the reader can feel what the character is feeling.

It was good to learn some more background about the town of Morganville as well as some new things about the vampires who live there.  I also really enjoyed the short story found at the end of the book.  This one, Anger Management, is set between Bite Club and Last Breath and is a story about Shane and how he is dealing with some of the things he faced in Bite Club.  It was an engaging story and tied neatly in with everything that going on.  Great stuff.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Black Dawn, and hope to be posting the review shortly.