taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #9: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa


Cannonball Read V: Book #9/52
Published: 2012
Pages: 484
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal

4 stars: Very good. Would recommend.

When I started reading this, for some reason I had it confused with The Mortal Instruments series (I guess because I’ve seen ads for the movie that’s coming out this summer based off of that book). So, I was sort of confused when they started introducing vampires. I generally enjoy dystopian YA books rather than supernatural creature books, but this book kept me interested from the start.

Allison lives in the Fringe – the outskirts of a vampire town. She is also Unregistered, which means she has to beg and steal for food. Her parents are dead and she has a small group of friends who take care of each other. When Allison finds a stash of food buried beneath an old house, she brings her friends out to gather it up, but they get caught on their way back by some rabid vampires (the more “wild” ones – there are different strains of vampirism). All of her friends are killed and, technically, so is Allison. She is dying when a vampire offers to either let her die or turn her into one of them. Allison decides to be turned (these aren’t really spoilers as they happen very early in the book and are revealed on Goodreads main synopsis as well).

Read the rest in my blog.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 10: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Goodreads summary: Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

I need to unpack a lot of conflicting feelings about this book. The first thing, off the top of my head, is that I’m definitely a Fever series fangirl, having absolutely devoured them for CBR4. Given that, I’m inclined to give any of these books the benefit of the doubt and then some. But there are just issues here that I can’t completely overlook, despite, again, finishing this in less than a day and being really engrossed in the proceedings.

For one — that summary up there? Sounds like a pretty normal, promising premise to a paranormal romance. Spunky heroine and rakish love interest are both introduced. Except here’s the thing: the spunky heroine, in this case, is 14 years old. Now, nothing happens happens in the book, but there are a lot of significant glances that are “misunderstood” by the young heroine, and some scenes where she is injured and is stripped to her underwear by one of the competing love interests (there are at least 3 that I can count) in order to heal her. Now, I’m not really a pearl-clutcher, generally speaking, nor am I the type to deny 14-year-olds their agency and burgeoning sexuality, but given the tone and content of the prior five books (hint: pretty fucking steamy) it squicks me just a little for the new protagonist to be jailbait. This isn’t exactly meant to be a YA series, and the prior books definitely weren’t. Furthermore, with regards to her agency, it would be one thing if she personally were displaying any kind of romantic notions toward anyone, but she’s not. Instead it’s like there are three guys kind of squabbling over her and her — oh god, I use this term all the time in pop culture criticism but again, I squick myself using it here because SHE’S FOURTEEN — magic vagina. I’m just going to stop there before Pedobear asks to take this review to his bunk.

Also, this sucker is 500+ pages, and honestly, I’d say it could be edited down by at about a third. I wouldn’t exactly say I was flat-out bored, clearly, given how quickly I went through the book; however, there are a lot of, frankly, really tedious scenes where Dani and Ryodan visit an “iced” site, wax Sherlockian about it, and then escape quickly without really learning anything new. I like mysteries and sleuthing stories to kind of drop some hints along the way, to build intrigue and build the case. In this instance, all of the sudden the knowledge-bomb is dropped right at the very end, and it’s not because of a lot of accumulated knowledge from the scenes — it’s because one character does some analysis he could have done at the beginning if he had only thought of it. In the prior five books, the paranormal mystery aspect of the plot was interspersed with the romantic element, and neither felt like they were dragging; here, since the romance has to be tempered because the romantic heroine is 14 years old, the mystery is put under more scrutiny and sometimes falls short.

Overall, since as I said I’m a fangirl, I probably won’t let these issues affect my enjoyment of the series too much, by which I mean, yes, I will unreservedly pick up the next installments and continue to fawn over the prior five. I will need KMM to tread carefully where the young protagonist is concerned, especially since two of her would-be suitors are older, and one considerably so (by which I mean immortal, but since jailbait rules don’t apply to inmortals, let’s say he’s probably meant to be about 30-ish in appearance.) So, in general, there was some definite weirdness afoot here that I wasn’t super satisfied with, but KMM did lay some good foundations for the upcoming novels. I’m categorizing this as 3 stars in wordpress since it’s part of Fever, but really, it’s probably a 2.5 as a standalone.

Lady Cusp’s #CBR5 Review #3: Life’s a Witch by Brittany Geragotelis

In this Young Adult novel, 16 year old Brooklyn Sparks uses magic to transform her high school situation starting with her looks.  The story begins on the day of Brooklyn’s 16th birthday and traces her through a day of ‘invisibility’ where she eats lunch in the counselor’s office and is generally ignored by classmates and teachers with the exception of tripping in the cafeteria and spilling liquid all over herself.

Luckily, that evening, Brooklyn receives her gift from her parents—untethered witch-hood.  Until this point in her life, Brooklyn’s parents (who are ultra-conservative witches) have seen fit to bind her powers in an attempt to teach her a normal non-magic lifestyle.  This result backfires and has had Brooklyn ceaselessly researching magic spells and doing whatever preparation she could til this point.  Within 48 hours Brooklyn has given herself a magical make-over which leaves other classmates asking for the name of her plastic surgeon.

By completely transforming her outside, Brooklyn is now in the running to join the popular kids known as ‘The Elite.’  Unfortunately, this popular crowd seems intrinsically evil and require and a series of tests into grey areas of morals, law and high school codes (the kind where kissing is considered cheating).  Brooklyn aces each test (using magic) with only an occasional sting of conscious.  Her external makeover begins to work inward and while other characters (her parents, her sweet crush, her lunch-pal/school counselor) tell her how much she’s changed, Brooklyn refuses to acknowledge this and consistently rationalizes and justifies her dubious post-makeover choices.

Since What the Spell is written in first person, I wonder if the justifications that Brooklyn uses to convince herself will also convince readers.  I also found it interesting that Brooklyn never undid her sweet 16 magical make-over.  And though she manages to oust the evil Elite, will she simply fill the void as the new queen B without any real introspection?  As part of a trilogy, we can only hope


Angela Baldwin #CBR5, Review # 5: Rise to Love by Lynn Hagen

Rise to Love

I always look forward to a new series from this author, but I will say that for me this book got off to a little bit of a slow start. After the initial slowness though it picked up quickly and I spent half the night reading just to see what happened next. I love a good paranormal story and this one is definitely that and more. Shifters, murder, intrigue and a great many characters that you follow on their adventures as the Changlings fight for their very existence.

Rick and Dorian are the main focus of this first book in the series. Rick is Alpha of the werewolf pack and District Manager of the local grocery store chain. Dorian is one of his employees and a very unwilling candidate to become the alpha’s mate. The change in attitude of both these characters over the course of the story was fun to watch and the secondary characters like Nate, Benito and Miguel are intriguing side stories. Hopefully these guys will get stories of their own during the course of this series.

Running for their very lives, Rick and Dorian are forced to learn to work together and rely on the assistance of strangers to keep pushing on for answers as to why they are being hunted and accused of crimes they didn’t commit. I am very much looking forward to the next book in this series.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #3: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

13595639Maureen Johnson has been on my radar for a couple of years now, ever since I read this manifesto post that she wrote about NOT BEING A BRAND. I read it and thought, yeah, this chick is awesome. I should read her books.

Cut to: three years later. Better late than never, yes? Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the book I should have started with. I was decidedly underwhelmed by it.

The Name of the Star is the first book of I-don’t-know-how-many in Johnson’s Shades of London series. It follows American teenager Rory Deveaux as she enters boarding school in London just as a series of murders echoing the ones committed by infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper back in 1888 begin rocking the streets of London. Rory somehow becomes the only witness to the string of murders, and begins manifesting paranormal abilities that sound cool in theory, but in actuality it mostly just comes off as predictable. I guessed most of the plot twists pages and pages before they were revealed, and most of them were revealed in a rather clunky manner.

Actually, the whole book came off as sort of clunky. It took about ninety pages before the main plot set in, and those ninety pages were mostly dedicated to setting up a boarding school novel that never really seemed to materialize. Then the narrative kind of flips a switch and suddenly it’s a murder mystery thriller, except again, none of it was particularly thrilling because I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened. Johnson also manages to sort of put in a romance plot as well, but it’s mostly an after-thought. It was like there was three different novels smooshed into one: the boarding school, the mystery-paranormal-thriller, and a romance. It’s not that these stories couldn’t be put together and work as a novel, but it didn’t really work for me here because of the way it was executed.

But for all those complaints, it was a really easy read, and the ideas were intriguing, even if the execution was off. She also does characters really well, and there were a few moments in the novel where I wished she would leave off the paranormal murder mystery and just focus on her characters, like the plot was getting in the way of her ability to just write about people I’d want to read.

I will probably be reading future books in this series because I’m a completionist, and I’ll also be curious if now that she’s gotten her clunky set-up out of the way if she can make this concept into a workable series. Will also definitely be picking up her non-paranormal stuff because I’ve heard it’s great.

[2.5 stars]