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.

Book Review: Bite Club by Rachel Caine

bite-club-by-rachel-caine-front-coverBite Club is the tenth book in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

Things in Morganville are never easy, but as long as the secret experiment of this small town in Texas is kept – the coexisting of vampires and humans, side-by-side – things ought to run smoothly.

However, when a new gym opens up in the town, one offering martial arts classes, things take a sinister turn.  Even though the Founder, Amelie, has said that it is fine for human residents of Morganville to learn how to defend themselves, something isn’t quite right.

When one of Claire’s classmates, turns up horribly murdered, she finds herself on the trail on something dark and dangerous…something that could blow the secret that is Morganville open wide…

Bite Club was an addictive read.  What was a nice addition to this story was the change of POV.  All the books in the series so far have been from Claire’s perspective, but this one includes a few of the thoughts and feelings of Shane.  This certainly helped me to understand his motives and behaviour when things got difficult for him.

Although there were a few twists in the story, it wasn’t hard to see where this book was going – the title was a big clue.  But that was all right; the book certainly packed a punch in terms of action, of which there was a great deal.  The pace of the book is never slow and it is always interesting to read just how Claire and the gang are going to get themselves out the trouble that finds them, always, without fail.

I look forward to posting my review on the next book in the Morganville Vampire series, Last Breath, soon.

Book Review: The Dark Flight Down by Marcus Sedgwick

the-dark-flight-down-front-foverThe Dark Flight Down is the sequel to The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick.

The story begins a few days after The Book of Dead Days ends.  Valerian is dead, and Boy and Willow have been fending for themselves in The Yellow House.  Together, they are content, but this isn’t to last.  Kepler, Valerian’s once-friend then enemy, sends Willow to an orphanage whilst he takes Boy back to his own home to become his assistant.

However, when Boy is sent back to The Yellow House to retrieve an item for Kepler, he is captured by the Imperial Guard.  Everything that belonged to Valerian is to be sent to the Palace, and that includes his assistant.  Incarcerated in the Emperor’s dungeons, Boy is soon thrown into a world where finery and opulence are everywhere, but this gilding is hiding much.  Danger and madness are an even greater presence here than outside the palace walls.

Will Willow find out what has become of Boy?  Will Boy manage to escape from the confines of the palace?  And will The Phantom, which is still killing without warning, ever be caught?

I wanted to enjoy this book as much as the first, but for some elusive reason I did not.  Perhaps the character of Valerian in The Book of Dead Days was a more gripping evil character than I found either Kepler or Maxim to be.  Or it could have been the pace was slower and the narrative less dark and gothic in nature.

However, I was happy to continue reading about Willow and Boy, the plans they had for the future and the scrapes they found themselves in and got themselves out of.

Although this series of books is aimed at a young adult audience, I found this instalment much more so than the first, which, as an adult reading it clouded my judgement a little, but I can imagine that it would still appeal to younger readers.

Book Review: The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick

the-book-of-dead-days-front-coverValerian, a magician in The City, made a Faustian-style pact many years ago that would reveal to him the knowledge he was after.  However, such a deal always comes with a price, and Valerian’s time to avoid certain death is running out.  If he is to survive until the new year, he must find a book of magic that has not been seen for generations.

Along with his apprentice, Boy, they must follow a trail set before them with the aid of Valerian’s inventor friend, Kepler.  But as The Phantom roams The City, killing without warning, and Valerian’s enemies hoping he will fail, can they find the book and prevent the inevitable?  And at what cost?  Time is running out…

This is a young adult book where technology and magic are entwined, creating an atmospheric story full of mystery and darkness.  Although this book was aimed at a younger audience, I did find the story gripping.  There are dark Dickensian elements, Gothic buildings, a magician and a puzzle that needs to be solved in short order or someone will die  – what’s not to love?

Boy and Willow are great characters. Both are lonely, but while Boy seems to accept what fate has dealt him, Willow questions it.  It quickly becomes clear that the two are stronger together, giving each of them who have nothing in this world, something to hold on to.  Whilst the story is unravelling around them, dragging them constantly into danger, Boy is struggling to understand who he is and where he comes from.

All-in-all, I found this book to be surprisingly engaging and rich in dark description.  The City is an interesting place, full of interesting characters and reminiscent of many Victorian cities.

As I already had book two in the series (The Dark Flight Down) about the house, I started reading it as soon as I finished this one so that I could find out what happens next to Boy and Willow.