Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand


https://i2.wp.com/d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1324782984l/7488244.jpg

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Rating:

http://booksnooks.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/star-four-11-jpg.png

Review:

This is the third book I’ve read that deals with angels, the other two being ‘Hush Hush’ and ‘Angelfall’. Without a doubt, Angelfall is the best of the three. Unearthly falls somewhere in between, much better than ‘Hush Hush’ but not quite equal to ‘Angelfall’. Unearthly puts a unique twist on angel lore. In Cynthia Hand’s world, angels are born on earth to satisfy a purpose and Clara, being an angel blood, has to fulfill her purpose. Before that, she has to figure out what her purpose is. The clues come in the form of dreams or flashes of the future and Clara has to use these clues to figure out her purpose.

When I started the book, I had high expectations because of all the good reviews this book had received on Goodreads. But about 25% into the book, I realized that though this was a solid YA book, this would not turn out to be one of my favorites. And the reason for that was… well, Clara. Clara is beautiful, fast and there is almost nothing that she can’t do. At least, that was the impression that I got when I read the book. Which instantly put me off because I love my protagonists to be a bit flawed and Clara seemed a little too perfect for my taste. Secondly, what is the deal with her obsession with Christian? I get that she keeps getting visions of him and that her purpose has something to do with him. But she automatically assumes that it means that she and Christian should “be together”. She starts obsessing over him, about whether he is looking her way, whether he is talking about her etc. It gets a bit annoying when she does this.

Except for Clara, I liked all the other characters including her mother, her brother, Christian, Tucker, Wendy and even the mean girl whose name I have now forgotten. If not for the romance aspect of this book, I would have given this only 3 stars. But as it happens, I really, really dug the romance in Unearthly. It was sweet and believable and good news – no insta-love. And there is a twist in the romance part which most of the readers will be able to predict after 50% of the book. But still, I’m thankful it was there. I would have hated the book if it was not.

Now, moving on to the ending, I loved it. Maybe it could have been a little less rushed, but still, I loved it. Plus, there is another twist at the end which even I, with all my supernatural abilities, didn’t expect.

So, I will probably read the sequel if only because I am craving a good dose of a certain character from the book.

Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett


https://i0.wp.com/d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1358468998l/12411635.jpg

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Rating:

http://booksnooks.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/star-four-11-jpg.png

Review:

Going into this book, I was fully expecting a romance with maybe a touch of paranormal. But guess what? This book has an actual plot, you guys! Yay! Also, the heroine of this book, Dusty is really, really likeable. She is not popular but she doesn’t whine about her unpopular status every five pages or so. Double yay!

The Nightmare Affair was very enjoyable for me, but I had to take away one star because some portions of the book sort of reminded me of Harry Potter. Like the boarding school that Dusty goes to, the teachers, some of the secondary characters. Even the murders happening in the book were sort of reminiscent of the second book from the HP series. But that said, the mystery surrounding the murders is one of the reasons I liked this book. It is so nicely done with just the right amount of suspense, whodunnit and whoisnext. Although I guessed one of the villains the minute he was introduced, I was still a bit surprised by the main baddie of the book.

Coming to the romance aspect, again I have to give credits to the author because she has managed to pull off a sweet romance that doesn’t ruin the flow of the story. Even though it’s obvious Dusty feels an attraction towards the guy Eli, that doesn’t make her act like a complete idiot in front of him. She is strong and independent and fierce just the way I like my heroines.

So, this is a well-written book with an amazing set of characters. I think a lot of people would enjoy this book if they managed to stay oblivious to a few HP similarities. 🙂

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Rating:

Review:

For some reason, I had been putting off reading this book for quite some time now. I don’t know why. Maybe the cover, although gorgeous, didn’t pull me in. Yeah, yeah, I’m kind of shallow when it comes to covers. But two days back, my brother and I had gone laptop shopping and while my brother was busy checking out all the cool new features in his laptop, I got bored and opened up this book on my e-reader. And I instantly knew I would love it.

I can write paragraphs on Laini Taylor’s writing style alone, but I’ll try to keep it short. It was simply spectacular. The descriptions pop off the page and hit you over the head like a sledgehammer, making you feel as though you are seeing Prague and Marrakesh and Brimstone’s shop with your own eyes. This book reminded me of why I started loving fantasy and still do. The story kicks off at an impressive speed and it is so thrilling that I couldn’t put the book down for ten hours straight. Yeah. It was that good.

And the characters! Oh, God, they were so beautifully written. You can feel Karou’s anguish as if it were your own and I loved Brimstone and Issa. And Zuzana? I wish Laini Taylor would write a book about Zuzana once she finishes Karou’s story. I loved Zuzana almost as much as Karou. The girl is seriously, side-splittingly funny! Every character in the book was amazingly crafted. I just wish when I write a book, I can manage to capture the essence of each character in such a beautiful way.

Coming to the topic of the love interest, I didn’t realize this book was going to be a romance from the way things started out. I mean, we see Akiva for the first time only about 35% into the book. But after he does enter the plot, we start to realize that the entire plot of the book wouldn’t happen if not for the romance. Which kinda, sorta disappointed me because I hugely appreciate a well-executed plot that doesn’t revolve around the “lurv” between the leads. But oh, well. It has been so hard to come across a good YA book nowadays that I let that slide. Because honestly? Even though the book was all about Akiva and Karou’s romance, I didn’t cringe while reading it. Karou is an independent and strong character who even the hardest cynics (me?) will like. If anything, I was a little let down by Akiva. He just didn’t light my fire, if you know what I mean. But like I said, he didn’t make me cringe either, so he is in the safe zone. The book did kind of drag (just a little) during the past-Karou-Akiva scenes, but it quickly picked up momentum after that.

The world building is awesome and I loved the idea that the seraph and the chimaera were not biblical creatures, but rather two warring races. I am definitely reading the next book and I so dearly hope it doesn’t let me down.

Book Review: Florid Eyes by Nicky English


“Get ready to be sucked into this suspenseful treasure hunt with a drop of love.”

No one has ever questioned Violet Lancaster’s ability to change the world. As a brainy and self-righteous PhD student at the prestigious Georgetown University, Violet is determined to make a name for herself in Washington, D.C., by working hard to pay her dues, but her moral system is turned upside down when she runs into a man in distress on a lonesome night.

Josh Levinson was born into an elite Philadelphia family in the year 1776, when the thirteen colonies declared independence from Britain. Together they break every human and supernatural law to hunt down a mystical Native American bow and arrow in hopes to liberate an entire species and to keep it from the evil tyrants from the Far East.

Florid Eyes takes you on an intricate adventure intertwined with an epic romance.

Rating:

3stars

Thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Review:

Okay, I’ve been thinking about how to describe this for some time now, but I’m just going to say what’s on my mind. I couldn’t find much that’s wrong with this book. That said, I wouldn’t say this is one of my favorites. Let me explain. I tried to like this book. I really did. While reading it, I understood that the author had tried to create a “different”, non-cliche vampire story. Yes, people, that is what this is. A different kind of vampire story – with adults instead of teenagers as leads. And I have to commend the author, Nicky English for her admirable attempt. Now, why exactly am I not gaga about this book?

Let me start with the POV. The POV is in third person present tense and it took me a while to warm up to it. Even so, in the middle of the story, I would sometimes wonder if maybe the story might have been more interesting with a traditional third person past tense perhaps. Like it says on the cover of the book, Florid Eyes is more of an adventure novel than a romance novel. But even the small amount of romance in the book was not all that passionate. Sure, there is a scene on the bridge and one in the library which are really hot, but after that, the romance kind of fizzles out. Which brings me to one of the major issues I had with this book. The love story between Josh and Violet? Moves too fast. And when I say ‘too fast’, I mean ‘way too fast’. Like, one second they’re kissing, then Violet finds out that Josh is a vampire, she freaks out a bit, then she decides to “help” him, then they have hot vampire sex, then they start proclaiming their love for each other. As if saying “I love you” once to someone who is practically a stranger isn’t enough, they throw those 3 little words around a lot. While reading it, I’m sitting on my couch and I’m like “God, guys! How long has it been since you met? And you already love each other and know that you’ve found your soul mate? That is so stupid” Also, if I could, I would give Violet a sharp smack on the head and say “You’re really stupid. You don’t deserve a PhD”. Because seriously, what would be your natural reaction when you meet someone who drinks people’s blood to survive? Stay clear of them, right? And if you’re stuck with them, I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely not have hot vampire sex with them. And I’d most definitely not empathize with them or their sob story until I know that I’m safe in their company. And what does Violet do when stuck with a good looking vampire who yearns to be human again? She totally laps up his story and sleeps with him. Oh, and she also happens to love him. Every time either Josh or Violet said the word ‘love’ I wanted to throw my e-reader against the wall.

Alright, that was a bit of a rant there. So, moving on, I liked the fact that this was an adventure novel and not a typical romance. But the downside is that the adventure is not adventurous enough. I constantly found myself wishing that the speed would pick up or that more engrossing stuff in general would happen. I think the story needs better roadblocks put in Josh and Violet’s way as they search for the “cure”. It just seemed to me that whatever was thrown their way, Josh and Violet would get past it without much effort on their part. It was too easy. It would have been more interesting to see them struggle more. The ending would be that much more satisfying if the characters had to work their asses off to get there. A more interesting back story might have helped. The one with the Indians, Dream Bear and the lot just didn’t pique my curiosity. When someone thinks ‘vampire’, they either want a heart pounding forbidden romance or a gory, bloody horror. Incorporating a bit of both might have helped this book a lot. Also, I would have liked to learn more about Josh’s life before he met Violet. Like, what he did during different decades.

Cons:

  • POV
  • Romance is too fast
  • Little character development
  • A bit on the longer side (600+ pages)
  • Slow paced

Pros:

  • Unique story
  • Writing is good
  • Violet doesn’t suffer from Bella syndrome i.e. her life doesn’t revolve around Josh
  • Violet is a hardworking girl that us, normal girls, can relate to

Verdict:

This might not be a perfect story, but it definitely deserves a read if only for the unique take on vampires.

Book review: Phantasma by Penelope Reece


Rating:

4stars

Alphie Brewster attends school, has friends, and a loving family. She’s even taken an interest in the hot new neighbor. It’s the normal life of your average eighteen-year-old. There’s only one problem. Alphie isn’t normal. She’s anything but. You see, Alphie’s got this problem. She’s always tired, is plagued with vivid nightmares, and can’t remember her past.

After Alphie stumbles upon a necklace that once belonged to her grandfather, and unintentionally opens a portal that sends a ghostly figure hurtling out at her from her bedroom mirror, she finds herself faced with another problem. A six foot four inch tall eccentric spook, named Noer, who fills her with fire while draining her energy as if she were a Duracell Battery.

With Noer constantly making her go all weak in the knees, Alphie wants nothing more than to be rid of both him and the necklace. Especially, since the sexy neighbor, Cary, has taken a fancy to her. And that’s not all. With both spook and Cary fighting for her attentions, Alphie starts to remember things. Things that she wished would stay buried. Then Alphie visits Noer’s home in Limbo, and things start to get even weirder.

If that all isn’t complicated enough, a vicious stranger comes looking for the necklace. And this stranger will do anything to get it. Within this chaos, will Alphie be able to come to terms with her past in order to save her family? Or will she become just another lost soul without a body?

I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. So, here goes.

***MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***

Okay, first things first. Sure, the blurb is kind of big and a little too informative. When I pick up a book, I want the blurb to be enticing without revealing everything about the story. So, yeah, I wish they’d shorten up the blurb. Now, moving on to the actual story, I have to say that the first 15% or so of the story didn’t hook me in. It was sort of cliche and the writing was forced and stilted. The conversations between Alphie, our leading girl of the book, and her sister Robyn sounded contrived. Another thing I didn’t like was Alphie’s name. I mean, I get that a lot of female leads inYA books (especially of the paranormal variety) tend to have weird names, but Alphie? Seriously? I didn’t like it.

Then, Alphie opened up the portal. And BOOM! The story picked up pace quickly after that and the writing seemed more fluent and spontaneous. I found myself not wanting to put the book down at all. It was a bad, bad decision I made to start reading the book at 11 in the night. I didn’t – couldn’t – get to sleep until I finished the book at 6 in the morning. Thank God I have summer vacation right now or else I would have had to skip my classes. So, anyway, the story becomes much, much interesting after Noer enters the plot. Even though Cary was nice and all, and even though Noer was made to appear creepy, I was still rooting for Noer and Alphie. Plus, once I was past the halfway mark, I didn’t even mind Alphie’s name. I was actually starting to like it. I loved the way Alphie’s “episodes” were written. I could almost imagine it happening to me. So, all in all, the book was a really good read, really enjoyable. The plot was something different from all the other YA books I’ve read so far. But the feeling I got while reading the book – the emotions – kind of reminded me of when I read Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. That is a huge compliment because Nevermore is one of my most favorite books. This book didn’t have the standard happy ending other YA books have, although it is a happy ending “in a strange sort of way”. The only cliche I found in the book was the fact that Alphie had a really low self-esteem. What is it with YA girls and low self-esteem? So, anyway, it would be nice if there is a sequel to this story, maybe telling a bit more about what exactly happened to Edger and about the life Noer and the “new Alphie” are living now.

Pros:

  • Unique plot
  • Best friend who is not annoying, for a change
  • Sister who actually cares about Alphie
  • Romantic interest who doesn’t smother
  • Romantic interest who isn’t perfect in all the ways (*ahem*Edward*ahem*)
  • Eerily scary at times (in a good way)
  • Really good ending (non-cliche)
  • The villain (who happens to have a surprising link to Alphie) scared the shit out of me!

Cons:

  • First 15% is sort of blah
  • Alphie’s self-esteem issues
  • Alphie’s Mom was kind of absent throughout the whole story. I wish more chapters had dealt with the relationship between Alphiea and her mom.

Verdict:

Phantasma was funny, scary, romantic, thrilling and packed with suspense. It was a really exciting read for me. More people should read it and see what an amazing story it is!