Book Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger is the second book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Summary:

Sam Roth is no longer the boy who turns into a wolf when the temperature drops.  He is now just a boy with a future ahead of him and the girl he loves beside him.  However, his past is never that far from his present, nor is the weight of responsibility on his shoulders ever far from his mind.

Grace Brisbane, the girl who didn’t turn into a wolf when she was bitten as a child, now has all she’s ever wanted.  A real future with the boy she loves and the prospect of a life away from Mercy Falls when she goes off to college.  However, something’s not right, and the future she had thought was hers is no longer certain.

As their world begins to fall apart, what will become of them?

Favourite Quote:

“I never knew there were so many kinds of love or that love could make people do so many different things.

I never knew there were so many different ways to say goodbye.”

Review:

In the second book in this series we find that the roles of Grace and Sam have been somewhat reversed.  Isabel, their reluctant confidant from Shiver, comes into her own, as she tries battling her own demons and helping her friends.

We are also introduced to a new character, Cole. I liked how his story was the complete opposite of Sam’s: Sam struggled to remain human, whilst Cole struggles to remain a wolf.  Another aspect of the story that I like is that Sam uses song lyrics to process what he is feeling and what is going on around him.

I enjoyed reading this book, however, I didn’t think it was as good or as gripping as the first in the trilogy, probably because I found it harder to connect with a few of the characters this time round, at least for the first half of the book.  This made it much harder to rate.  I didn’t think I could give it a 4, the same as I gave Shiver, but it is much better than a 3, so I tagged an extra ½ on to the rating below.

I am looking forward to reading the final book of the trilogy, Forever, to see what happens to Grace and Sam, Cole and Isabel and the rest of the wolf pack.

Rating:

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

shiver-front-coverShiver is the first book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Summary:

When Grace was small, she was dragged off the swing in her back garden by wolves and pulled into the woods behind her house.  Somehow she survived the attack.  Deep down she knows it has something to do with the wolf with yellow eyes – her wolf.

As the years pass, she marks the changing seasons by the presence or lack there of, of the wolves in Boundary Woods.  When they’re not there, she misses them terribly.  When they are, she knows the yellow-eyed wolf is close by, watching.  And there is something almost human about him…

Sam is a young man caught between worlds.  In winter he is destined to live his life with the pack in the woods, the only true family he has ever loved.  In summer, when the temperature allows, he shifts back to being human.

Then, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy, and she just knows he is her wolf.  But things are never that simple.  Sam’s time is running out.  When it does, he will lose Grace, forever.

Favourite Quote:

She made a soft noise that, roughly translated, meant piss off in sleep language.

Review:

First, I loved this book, even though it made me cry.  Yes, I can be terribly soft and sentimental…

As a YA book, it was a quick and easy read, and it didn’t take long for me to get swept up with the story.  One thing in particular stood out to me as I read it: it is full of gorgeous descriptions of the setting, convincingly transporting me to Mercy Falls.

Shiver reminded me a little of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books.  Star-crossed lovers, impossible odds of being together, paranormal boyfriend – human girlfriend…and yet I felt they were so different, probably due to the style of the author’s writing.

I enjoyed the mythology surrounding the wolves.  Having the temperature play such an important role in the story really added drama and tension to it.  I also liked how we got to see what was happening from both Grace’s and Sam’s point of view.

I liked Grace; she is a strong young woman, and will do what it takes to fight for who she loves.  And Sam, caught between the life he knows and a life with the woman he loves…it’s not hard to feel for him.

I am looking forward to reading the second book in the trilogy, Linger, to see where the story leads next…

Rating:

four-stars

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: 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.

Novella Review: Vastian Lore by S.C. Gregory

vastian lore by s c gregory

This novella is packed full with as much action and plot as a full length novel, so as to not give too much of the story away, I thought I would give you the story description in the author’s own words rather than my own for a change, for fear of spoilers.


Sometimes taking the job means betraying family…

Turns out Norarl is fine with that, once he accepts that his whole life has been a lie.

His half-sister wants him dead.  His twin brother would only be too happy to help her succeed, but they also want more than just his murder.

Arius and Zadraal will do everything in their power to free an army whose sole purpose is to destroy all life not like their own.  The only problem?

To break the magical seal of the Gate of N’sumenel requires the sacrifice of an Earthbound Elemental.

The real test will be if Norarl cares enough about his new-found allies to fight alongside them?


The first thing I want to talk about is the cover.  I think the artwork looks amazing.  The style and colours work so well with the story and it makes you want to pick up the book and skim through the pages.

Next, the world the author has created is full of description and a level of depth that shows she knows this world inside out.  From the rules that govern magic and the creatures that are found in the story, to the knowledge of the religion and the world’s history, even the names of the characters, which are pronounceable (unlike some fantasy worlds where the author is trying to do something different and stand out), there is no question of consistency and continuity from the beginning of the story to the end.

What I liked most about the story was the banter and interaction between Norarl, Zaria, Leso and Orlan.  As a group, they worked really well together. Norarl is a very interesting character with a complex backstory and as I worked my way through the book, I couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to end.

The pace of the story is fast and fuelled with high energy action (and humour).  The story and the world it is set in certainly captures the imagination and the twists in the plot will keep you guessing at what will happen next.  And as for the end, it is intriguing and does a great job of setting the scene for what is to follow.

I would definitely read more by this author.  She has a flair for wordsmithery, as she has shown in her vivid descriptions.  If you like steampunk fantasy and story that you can sink your teeth into, I can’t recommend Vastian Lore highly enough.  It’s a great read that I read in one sitting simply because I couldn’t put it down.

I received a free signed copy of Vastian Lore by S.C. Gregory from a giveaway run on the author’s blog.  You can learn more about S.C. Gregory by visiting her blog, here.  You can purchase a copy of Vastian Lore, as a kindle book or a paperback via Amazon.