Book Review: Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

10429015Title: Cold Kiss
Author: Amy Garvey
Series: Cold Kiss #1
ISBN: 9780061996221
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date:  September 2011
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
Rating:  2/5

From Goodreads:   It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.
Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants–what she must do–is to bring Danny back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.
Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her–and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.
But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought–even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

My Reveries and Ramblings: This book was okay. I was able to read it fairly quickly in one sitting. There was very little detail. It was pretty much plot driven. The characters were a bit flat to me. I wanted to know more about Wren’s power and why her mom wouldn’t talk about it, or why her dad left. I also wanted to know more about Gabriel. But instead most of the book was entirely devoted to how badly she messed up by bringing Danny back to life and how she loves and loved him so much. I just wish Ms. Garvey spent more time on fleshing out the characters. The plot is there, the characters, not so much.
Having said that though, I do think the story was good, albeit predictable. It felt more like a novella or short story. There just wasn’t enough…of everything. But i did enjoy it. I’m not the biggest fan of zombie books and there were quite a few moments where Danny creeped me out. But I loved the message in the book. The messages were of love, loss and grief. Wren has to come to terms with losing her first love prematurely. Most people have lost someone in their lives. So I can assume everyone can relate and sympathize with Wren’s battle: her desire to keep the one she loves and her need to let him go.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. I will probably read the sequel at some point. I really hope the author expands on the world and answers some questions left from the end of the last book.

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Cold Kiss (Cold Kiss, #1)

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Book Review: Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

9284655Title: Tiger’s Curse
Author: Colleen Houck
Series: The Tiger Saga #1
ISBN: 978-1402784033
Publisher: Splinter
Pub. Date: January 11, 2011
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy/YA/Romance
Pages: 448
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing 17-year old Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Tiger’s Curse begins with Kelsey starting her new job at a visiting circus. While working, she becomes attached to one of the animals, a very tame white tiger. When Kelsey is given the opportunity to help transport the tiger back to India, she readily accepts. Once she arrives in India, she finds out that the tiger, Ren, isn’t really a tiger, but a cursed prince. The real reason she was tricked to escort the tiger was to help break the curse. What follows is a journey filled with love, friendship, heartache, magic, and adventure.
Tiger’s Curse is such a refreshing YA novel. I have yet to come across a novel for teens that takes place in India. The romance was just so beautiful. It was touching and very real. It felt very natural. Although Kelsey’s inability to make the, ahem, correct decisions at the end made me angry. I could go on an on and on about the awesomeness of their relationship and how devoted Ren was to her. It was so cute! I had a big smile on my face for 2/3 of the book. The other third was when Kelsey had her nightmare (which by the way, I was freaking out, I felt like I was in the nightmare-scary!) and the few chapters when Kelsey was acting irrational.
I absolutely loved every moment of this Indian adventure. There was so much going on. Ms. Houck kept throwing complicated Indian names and myths/legends around, but they all made sense later. The only problem I had was with Kelsey-specifically at the end, but I think I ranted enough about her. I did love her optimism, though. Her ability to compartmentalize was astounding. I wish I could do it that well.
The only problem I had with the whole book was that the quest was too easy. Yes, there was a lot of traveling. But, whenever they needed something, it somehow appeared. I never felt that life and death urgency. It was more like well-even-though-we’re-camping-since-you’re-a-tiger-you-can-run-a-few-miles-back-and-get-us-some-food type feeling. The only time when I was actually nervous or scared for the characters was towards the end when they were attacked by the kappas. However, even though this was something I had to overlook, I really loved this book. Kelsey’s narration was funny and interesting to read. My favorite aspect of this book was the romance. The sweetness of it, just made my heart ache. I borrowed this book from the library. But I’m having pre-separation anxiety about it. I’m probably going to buy the book so I can re-read my favorite parts. While I’m out, I might as well buy the second book Tiger’s Quest-because i can’t just leave the series as is. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves re-tellings, traveling, quests, and a rich and beautiful romance.

<<SPOILER ALERT-RANT-highlight to read>>
Oh My Goodness!!! I could just kill Kelsey for what she did. Doesn’t she realize how lucky she is?! Ren loves her so much and she just leaves?!?! I would have done the exact opposite if I were put into the book. Ren’s just too good to pass up. I wish I had a guy like Ren. A guy who’s passionate, straight-forward, strong, confident, sweet, charming, and a prince all rolled into one package. Seriously, a girl couldn’t ask for more. But nooooo, Kelsey just throws it all away because she’s scared. I mean, I did understand why she did what she did; but at the same time I also didn’t like her decision. She most definitely made the wrong one.

 

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Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga, #1)

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Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Series: Castle #1
ISBN: 006441034X
Publisher: Eos
Pub. Date: 1986
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Children/Fantasy/Magic
Pages: 329
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:  In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.  After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.  The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.  In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle?  Diana Wynne Jones’s entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.

My Reveries and Ramblings: I first heard of Howl’s Moving Castle when I saw the trailer for the movie.  Of course, me being a child at heart, I went out and got the movie.  What a wonderful and beautiful adventure!  So when I found out it was based on a book, I had to read it.  I don’t regret it at all.  The film has several plot differences from the book.  But the basic plot is still the same.  Howl’s Moving Castle is about a girl, Sophie, who gets cursed by The Witch of the Waste.  The curse turns her into an old woman.  Refusing to let her family see her as old and ugly she runs away hoping to find her fortune and maybe even break the curse.  While traveling she sees Howl’s moving castle.  Everyone knows that Howl eats the hearts of young beautiful girls.  But Sophie isn’t worried because she is old woman now.  So she lets herself in the castle.  She ends up working as Howl’s cleaning lady after making a deal with the fire demon, Calcifer, that powers the castle.  Calcifer wants Sophie to help him break the contract he made with Howl in return he will break the curse on Sophie.  However, Calcifer cannot discuss the terms of the contract so he has to drop Sophie hints, which she never catches.  Likewise, the Witch of the Waste made it impossible for Sophie to tell anyone that she is under a curse.  Howl doesn’t seem to care for Sophie and her cleaning but he puts up with her, letting her live in the castle.  Howl and his apprentice, Michael, make simple spells and charms for people of several towns.  They are always in the moving castle but the door to the outside is like a portal allowing them access to several places.  Howl is being pursued by the King to find his brother as well as the Wizard Suliman who disappeared.  Howl doesn’t want responsibility or commitment, therefore he tries his best to sully his name/reputation in town and with the king.    However, with the Witch of the Waste wanting him for her own, Howl is constantly on the run, dragging Sophie, Michael and Calcifer with him.

I adored this book.  I loved the movie and was so happy to find the book a bit different.  It was so much fun to read!  It was like going on an adventure.  At the beginning of the story, Sophie is working as an apprentice in her family’s hat shop.  She has no backbone and is overly shy and quiet, spending more time talking to the hats she makes then to people.  One day the Witch of the Waste comes into the store and curses her, making her into an old woman.  As the story progresses, Sophie’s personality matures and changes, she becomes more aggressive.  Instead of feeling that her fate has been decided for her she goes out and makes it how she wants.
Howl hates being tied down to one place.  His character was so interesting.  He is a natural coward, yet brave when he has to be.    He is also such a drama king!  He’s like a spoiled kid obsessed with vanity.  It made for some very hilarious situations.  Throughout the book he is constantly nagging at Sophie and blaming her for everything bad that happens. Howl hates Sophie cleaning and messing up all his stuff-but he never kicks her out.  Underneath the surface he is kind and compassionate-very deep under the surface.  These two traits come out very rarely and only for an instant at a time.  He is always begging for attention.  It’s quite funny.  One of the funniest scenes was when Howl got a cold. I reread it several times and laughed out loud each and every time.  Calcifer was awesome.  He is a fire demon who made a contract with Howl and because of that is stuck inside the castle until the contract is broken.  He is so funny.  I would love to have a friend like Calcifer, even if he is a bit scary looking.
The whole book was beautifully written.  The world was interesting.  It takes place in Ingary, which is like another dimension, where magic exists.  The ending is suspenseful and sweet.  There is no cliffhanger.  It has a HEA ending but I would still love to see more of Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer.  Hopefully they show up in the next books.  Without trying to give anything away I will say that there is a little bit of romance, very little.  It is sweet and very PG.  The other stuff, not so much.  I wish there was more romance BUT, it is still worth it!  I loved every minute of it!  I wish I could read it again.  Actually I’d recommend reading it twice so that once you discovered everything by the end you can go back and see the reasons behind certain things, and pick up on Calcifer’s hints-which even I had some trouble picking up.  Overall, it was a VERY unique and imaginative book.  It was charming and engrossing.  I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)

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Book Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Title: Bayou Moon
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: The Edge #2
ISBN: 978-0441019458
Publisher: Ace
Pub. Date: September 2010
Source: Purchased
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal
Pages: 447
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Cerise Mar and her clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect. But all is not as it seems.
Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge-and Cerise’s life.

My Reveries and Ramblings: Bayou Moon is the second novel of Ilona Andrews’s The Edge series.  It follows William’s story two years after the events of On the Edge.  William is sent on a mission by The Mirror to find the object that Spider, the villain, is looking for.  On his way to the Mire, a swamp area in the Edge (where Spider is), he is forced to travel with a homeless-looking girl, Cerise.  He later finds out that it was only a disguise.  As soon as he sees what she really looks like, he wants her.  Then, when he sees how she fights, he wants her more.  Cerise’s parents were handed over to Spider by her family’s enemy.  After running into several creatures and hunters looking for her, William decides to stick with her, for the time being anyway.  Nothing is as it seems.  Lies, blood, and death surround Cerise as she tries to find her parents and destroy those that get in her way.
Ilona Andrews floored me with the amazing characterization in this book.  William was so complex!  He is a changeling-both human and wolf.  There are times when he acts and thinks like a human.  However, with every strong emotion, the wolf comes out-maybe not physically, but mentally.  Whenever this happens his thoughts go from normal and rational to “I want….” and “Must have…..”   Very primal.  Cerise notices when he switches to wolf-mode.  She can see it in his eyes, but she doesn’t know that he is a changeling.  Andrews juggles the two mind-frames very well.  Changelings, in their fundamental nature, act on instinct, not thought.  William always has to remind himself that he is also human and he cannot just take what he wants; he has to ask for it and be ready for rejection if it comes.  This was very sad yet admirable.  He really wanted to be with Cerise for most of the book.  He always reminded himself that women didn’t want him; he was a monster that could not be loved.  William had to deal with a ton of inner conflict, besides the wolf/human one.  He was always scared that once Cerise found out who he was, she wouldn’t want him anymore.  Before he can be with Cerise, he has to come to terms with his past and that it does not define him-his actions define him.
I felt so bad for Cerise.  After her parents are kidnapped she has to lead the family in a battle not only against their rival clan, but also Spider.  Meanwhile, her younger sister is slowly going insane-thinking she is a monster who deserves to live in the woods.  Because she is the new head, she has to hold her emotions in so that the family respects her.  The only person she truly lets in is William.  She trusts him, and loves him.  Because he looks like a Blueblood, noble of the Weird, she calls him Lord Bill when she first meets him.  Even though it was just used to mock at first, she continues to call him this as the story progresses.  I love the nickname, its so cute.  It has a teasing/flirty edge to it in the book.
There were a lot of different elements mixed into Bayou Moon.  First, there was a lot of gore, violence, and family feuding going on.  The action is suspenseful and bloody.  The fight scenes were depicted with a great attention to detail.  I felt like I was in the middle of them.  There were times when I was definitely shutting my eyes and muttering “ew.”  Second, there was romance.  William and Cerise’s relationship was intense.  There were a lot of “almost” scenes.  They were both obviously attracted to each other.  Cerise even admits to her family that she loves him, but he can’t take a hint.  William is very straightforward and doesn’t understand flirting.  He also doesn’t believe she wants him so he always pulls himself back when he wants to kiss her (or more).  This leads to many tension filled scenes that had me screaming “Just kiss her already!”
I liked On the Edge a bit better than Bayou Moon.  Not too sure why, but Bayou Moon is still a great book.  It’s emotional, action-packed, and romantic.  The other characters, besides William and Cerise, are for the most part three-dimensional.  There were so many, I thought I’d get confused (especially within Cerise’s big family) but Ilona Andrews did such a great job writing them, that it never was the case.  Rose, Declan, and the boys from On the Edge appear briefly at the end-which was nice.  All in all, I thought Ilona Andrews crafted an excellent book.

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Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)

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Book Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Brightly Woven
Author: Alexandra Bracken
ISBN: 978-1606840382
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pub. Date: March 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance/ Magic/Adventure
Pages:  368
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.
In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North.       He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.
Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Wow! This was one exciting adventure.  Sydelle lives in a poor small village where there is currently a drought.  It hasn’t rained in 7 years.  One day a wizard, North Wayland, comes and makes it rain.  At his request the Sydelle’s father gives her to North for this service.  Both begin their journey to warn the queen about the upcoming war and who truly poisoned and killed the King.  Clearly upset at being forced from her home, Sydelle tries to ignore him, but actually ends up yelling at him quite a lot.  North ignores her yelling, especially when he’s drunk.  After several messy encounters with other wizards, Sydelle finds it difficult to be mad at him.  Her hatred turns to compassion.
Sydelle is 16 yr. old weaver who has the ability to repair magical talismans.  I really respected her strength and determination.  She also has a habit of attracting the worst sort of trouble.  However, North doesn’t mind rescuing her and playing the part of hero. I just loved North.  He reminded me of Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle (the movie).  On the outside he is strong, stubborn, very good looking, and optimistic.  On the inside, he is cursed and tortured.  Both North and Sydelle are very selfless characters.  Their willingness to do anything to save their country, even sacrifice their lives, was touching.
Magic is a large part of this book.  However, the relationship between Sydelle and North forces the reader to look beyond all the magic, war, and secrets and watch as two people see the good and importance in the other.  Both characters have always felt insignificant and do their best to fight that feeling.  That doesn’t mean the feeling goes away.  Their love and kindness for each other removes their insecurities making them all the more powerful and useful.
Behind this love story, there is a journey involving a war.  The upcoming war is based on rumor, and therefore does not need to be fought, especially since it is a false rumor.  Alexandra Bracken handles the issue of a reason-less war with care.  The threat of many lives lost hangs over the characters giving them a very real consequence if they fail.  It gave the story a sense of urgency.
Alexandra Bracken built a beautiful and very original world.  The countries had their own religions, myths, legends, etc.  She established guilds, abundant resources for the regions as income, and different terrains.  It was all very engaging.  I would love to jump back into the world, even though Bracken currently has no plans to write a sequel.  I adored this book.  The writing flowed easily and Bracken’s word choice and phrasing made Sydelle’s voice clear and relatable to the reader.  Brightly Woven is an enthralling adventure that will leave you eager for more.

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Brightly Woven

Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall #1
ISBN: 978-1423121305
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Pub. Date: March 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal/Magic
Pages:  336
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My Reveries and Ramblings:   First of all, let me start off by saying that this book was so much better than I expected. To prove my point, when I was about ¾ through the book I fell asleep (it was 3 AM) and I dreamt about Hex Hall. My dream was exactly like the book except for the location of Hecate Hall. Instead of being in the US, the school was located in Brazil. And of course I was Sophie.
Sophie, the daughter of the head of the Council, is sent to Hecate Hall, also known as Hex Hall, for using magic irresponsibly. She hates it. She doesn’t fit in and everyone seems to know more about her than she does. It probably has to do with the fact that she has never actually met her father. The teachers, in an effort to avoid showing favoritism, treat Sophie more harshly then the other students. This means getting thrown into detention three days a week for the whole semester. But its not that bad-she has the super hot Archer to keep her company. When the girls of the coven, the super popular and powerful clique of girls, start getting attacked, everyone starts blaming Jenna, Sophie’s vampire roommate. Throughout the book, Sophie is trying to prove Jenna’s innocence as well as trying to discover who she, herself, is.
Hex Hall was very entertaining. It was suspenseful, funny, and enjoyable. Sophie is very go with the flow. Her voice was fun to read. Her opinions were very real. She wasn’t trying to be the teenaged adult. She was a teenager and acted accordingly. Sophie followed her instincts when it came to dangerous situations and didn’t sit there and overestimate her abilities. Ah, Archer. I’m not sure how I feel about him. Those of you who read the book know what I mean. I think he’s hot. His attitude made him even more attractive. There’s just something about him. I never got that “I want him” feeling that I find necessary in the male love interest. Now Cal, I’d much rather he be the love interest in this book. I don’t know why but I really liked Cal. I mean I really liked Cal. He’s got healing hands 😉 Plus, he’s what, 20? 21? His character is obscure which is a bit disappointing. Hopefully he has a larger role in the upcoming books.
As I read Hex Hall, I visualized it like a Disney movie. A PG-13 Disney movie. I’m not sure why, but that’s how I saw it unfolding in my head. Don’t get me wrong-it was a great book. Rachel Hawkins did an exceptional job. The writing was easy to read. There was never a moment where I was confused or rereading to see if I missed something.

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Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)

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Book Review: Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance

Title: Claimed by Shadow
Author: Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #2
ISBN: 978-0451461520
Publisher: Roc
Pub. Date: April 2007
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance/Time Travel/Paranormal
Pages: 374
Rating:  2/5

From Goodreads: Clairvoyant Cassie Palmer has inherited new magical powers-including the ability to travel through time. But it’s a whole lot of responsibility she’d rather not have. Now she’s the most popular girl in town, as an assortment of vamps, fey, and mages try to convince, force, or seduce her-and her magic-over to their side. But one particular master vampire didn’t ask what Cassie wanted before putting a claim on her. He had a spell cast that binds her to him, and now she doesn’t know if what she feels for him is real-or imagined.

My Reveries and Ramblings:   Cassandra Palmer escapes the Senate with a duffel full of weapons only to be attacked by the Circle.  Pritkin and Cassie are forced to become allies due to a common goal-although she never truly trusts him.  Besides Pritkin, Cassie is helped by Billy the ghost and Mac, a tattoo artist mage.  Cassie’s Pythia powers drag her into the past to save Mircea from Myra who is set on making sure Cassie never lives to get her powers.  By going into the past, Cassie accidentally sets the geis, a bonding spell Mircea had cast, in the future on the past Mircea strengthening their bond.  This becomes problematic for both of them since they can’t seem to keep their hands off eachother when together and when separated are in total physical pain (a pain that has led others under the same circumstances to commit suicide).
After reading the first book in the series, Touch the Dark, I thought this can only get better.  I was a bit disappointed. I mean, yes it was action packed.  And yes, there was never a dull moment. But the plot didn’t really progress until the last 10 pages or so.  Also, I love Mircea, and I hated how he was barely in this book.  He showed up briefly in the present, but only for short periods of time in the past.  Also, the whole thing with Tomas at the end was weird.  I did like Cassie’s spirit in this book.  No matter how many times she was knocked down, she just got right back up again.  All she wants is to find her father, kill Tony, and live a normal life.  But everyone else wants something from her.  They are all one-step ahead of her.  Even though the odds are in no way stacked in her favor, she keeps on fighting for what she wants.  Honestly, I like the series so I’ll keep reading.  I want to find out how it ends.
I felt rushed through the book, and I found myself confused several times wondering if I missed something but after rereading realized I didn’t miss anything.  By the end of the book I got the gist of what happened, however I was still lost.  Both in this book and the first I felt like I was thrown into the middle of it and was left to figure out what was going on.

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Claimed By Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, #2)

 

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Book Review: Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

Title: Touch the Dark
Author: Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #1
ISBN: 978-0451460936
Publisher: Roc
Pub. Date: June 2006
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance/Paranormal/Time Travel
Pages:  320
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads:  In the hot-blooded vein of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake saga and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, Karen Chance’s debut novel is a contemporary dark fantasy revolving around a gutsy female protagonist with supernatural abilities that blends mystery and romance with hair-raising horror.  Cassie Palmer, a powerful clairvoyant who works part-time at an Atlanta club reading Tarot cards, is finding it difficult to escape her past. Orphaned at a young age and brought up by the undead, Cassie has the ability to communicate with the spirit realm, and her powers were abused time and time again by a ruthless master vampire named Tony. It’s been three years since Cassie — a self-described “ghost magnet” — has been free of the centuries-old bloodsucker, but now he’s back and eager to reclaim his human possession. Forced to turn to the Senate (a group of “really old vamps” who make laws for the supernatural community) for protection, Cassie is thrown into a complex conflict where control of the entire supernatural world is at stake. Rasputin (yes, the Mad Monk himself), a power-hungry vampire, is killing off the Senate members one by one. Aided by some impressive allies — including Dracula’s older brother, Mircea — Cassie must use everything in her paranormal arsenal to fight the encroaching evil — and somehow stay alive.  Fans of authors like Hamilton, Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, and Charlaine Harris will undoubtedly enjoy this fast-paced, blood-sucking romp through the supernatural underworld — yet another noteworthy addition to the ever-growing subgenre of fantasy/romance/mystery hybrids. Paul Goat Allen

My Reveries and Ramblings:  The Cassandra Palmer series is really interesting.  Karen Chance does a wonderful job of combining paranormal with mystery and romance.  Touch the Dark starts with the protagonist, Cassandra Palmer, nicknamed Cassie, living in hiding.  She has been on the run for three years from her vampire “master,” Tony.  He killed her parents and took her in as a clairvoyant when she was a little girl.  Now, in her 20s, Cassie works as a tarot card reader at the same club as her roommate, Tomas.  One night Tony’s men come to find her, and kill her.  She manages to escape, thanks to a mysterious tattoo and Tomas.  Cassie is now in the hands of the vampire Senate and Lord Mircea.  All Cassie wants to do is be free-she doesn’t want to belong to Mircea, Tony, or the Senate.  Simply running away isn’t going to help.  Those who don’t want to control her, want her dead because she has inherited the powerful pythia’s power.
Touch the Dark is filled with time traveling, sexy men and vampires, and a lot of action scenes.  Cassandra Palmer has one goal in mind-to get her father’s ghost from Tony and be free.  Everything she does is to get that done.  She doesn’t want power.  She doesn’t want to be under the protection of Mircea and the vampires.  By inheriting the pythia’s power, Cassie finds herself thrown back in  time. This is mostly because Myra, the girl who was supposed to become the next pythia, has decided to mess with the timeline.
Lord Mircea, a very sexy vampire, has appointed himself as Cassandra’s protector.  He knew where she was when she “ran away.”  I’d love to believe that he loves Cassandra, but I’m not sure.  His actions show that he does.  But at the same time he’s a first class manipulator so I’m not sure.  Same thing with Tomas, I think he has feelings for Cassandra, but at the same time, not too sure.
Karen Chance made sure the reader is never bored.  There is so much going on that you feel like you ran a marathon by the end of the book.  The only problem I had was that I felt thrown into the middle of everything.  There were so many action scenes, I would have loved it if the story slowed down for bit.  The time traveling scenes were a bit confusing, but still quite interesting to read.  The series is quite interesting-mixing mages/magic, vampires, fey, and even historical figures into a series of books.  I will definitely keep reading the series.

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Touch the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, #1)
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Book Review: The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

Title: The Native Star
Author: M.K. Hobson
Series: Native Star #1
ISBN: 978-0-553-59265-8
Publisher: The Random House Publishing Group
Pub. Date: August 2010
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance/Historical Fiction/Steampunk
Pages:  387
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: In the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this brilliant first novel fuses history, fantasy, and romance. Prepare to be enchanted by M. K. Hobson’s captivating take on the Wild, Wild West.
 
The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine, the town witch, Emily Edwards, is being run out of business by an influx of mail-order patent magics. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. But before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession—and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil warlocks who want the object for themselves.  Dreadnought Stanton, a warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time—and across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine—in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. But along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all—the magic of the human heart.

My Reveries and Ramblings:   Take an old Western then add some magic, a pinch of paranormal, and a sprinkle of romance and you get The Native Star.  This was one crazy steampunk adventure.  The Native Star follows a 25 year old witch, Emily.  She and her adoptive father, Pap, own a magic shop-mostly for home use; however, it is being run out of business by a larger company.  In an effort to ease Pap’s life, she casts a love spell on her friend for money hoping that after they get married she will grow to love him.  However, her spell goes wrong and a poor drunk warlock, tells Emily about suspicious events occurring as well as accusing her of using dark magic.  After going to check on his suspicions, Emily gets a native star stuck in her hand.  With the help of Dreadnought Stanton, the most aggravating Warlock ever, she goes in search of removing it.  Their journey across America is filled with problems.  Almost every magical society is after them, including the government.  Apparently the native star is much more valuable and deadly then Emily originally thought.
What an adventure!  I felt like I was there.  When Emily and Stanton were tired, I was tired.  When they were scared, I was scared.  It was so much fun.  This novel takes place in 1876.  Their journey takes them from California all the way to the east coast.  It is an America where magic is used everywhere, even in the government.  This magic is powered through faith and belief in it.  You do get the occasional anti-magic religious town.  This world is filled with secret societies, radicals, zombies, and flying machines.  The story has an old western feel to it-so much so that I visualized some of it in sepia.  No joke, it was almost like watching a blockbuster western film.  Epic.
The characters were so well-written (the whole book was!)  At the beginning of the novel, Emily made a choice. It was the wrong one and everything that happens to her after that is the consequence of one small decision.  Hobson explores choices and their consequences throughout The Native Star, for almost every character.  Emily is a very human character.  She makes mistakes and she is not perfect in any way.  But she tries to do the right thing.  Emily gets stuck with the “insufferable” Stanton, who has made it his life mission to show off his magical knowledge.  Stanton was a fascinating character.  At the beginning, I agreed with Emily on his annoying and supercilious attitude and comments.  I remember thinking “It’s going to be a long ride.”  But over the course of the book, the reasons for his actions and personality are revealed and I (and Emily, of course) started to fall in love with him.  The romance wasn’t overpowering though.  It started out as hate then turned to love over time-basically a growing attraction.  Stanton reminded me of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre.  He’s definitely the strong smart guy, but there is no doubt that he is tortured.  These two are the central characters of the novel.  There are a whole bunch of others including an Indian Holy Woman, an evil soul that possesses people, a radical warlock who happens to run the American military, and a paranoid feminist witch.
This is the first book in a series.  The Native Star is an exhilarating adventure that will leave you wanting more.  I give it 4/5.

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The Native Star (Veneficas Americana, #1)

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Book Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Title: Tyger Tyger
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Series: Goblin Wars #1
ISBN: 0547330081
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub. Date: 2010
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy/YA/Romance/Adventure
Pages:  320
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads: Teagan Wylltson’s best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures–goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty–are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn’t worried. Her life isn’t in danger. In fact, it’s perfect. She’s on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She’s focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.
     Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn’s a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he’s crazy or he’s been haunting Abby’s dreams, because he’s talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby’s right. The goblins are coming.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Tyger Tyger follows the adventure of Teagan, her brother, Aiden, and Finn into Mag Mell to rescue Teagan’s father from Fear Doirich, the goblin king.  That’s basically the gist of the whole story.  Hamilton put together a wonderful story.  The mythology was well crafted/researched.  It really brought the story to life.  However, I felt that there were just so many names and places that I could barely pronounce that I found myself having to reread certain parts to get the back story correct.  I did like how Hamilton incorporated the Gaelic phrases.  Finn’s dialogue was interesting to read.  He was confident in everything he did-from fighting to flirting.  His character was a bit flat though.  I just didn’t get that spark of a three dimensional character from him.  I didn’t feel that he was real.  In fact, most of the characters didn’t seem that three dimensional.  Since this is the first book in a series, I’m really hoping Hamilton explores them more.  Although I really liked Aiden and his singing ability.  It made for some very funny moments, especially in Mag Mell (Kiss the Girl scene-wish he kept singing). Oh, and Ms. Skinner, a very obscure character, made me so angry, she needs to get a life instead of trying to control and judge others’.
I was a bit frustrated at how both Teagan and Finn have the whole love-at-first-sight moment, then Finn goes away for a while, and she’s not upset.  What bothers me is that they barely had a conversation and he’s in love with her.  Also, throughout the book there aren’t any serious romantic moments-there are a few cute ones, though. Also, Abby, Teagan’s best friend, kept warning Teagan about how the goblins are coming for her in the beginning, but then when they finally do show up, Abby doesn’t believe her.
Tyger Tyger is like a modern day fairy tale-without the fey.  It was a good book.  Hamilton included Irish folklore, religion, goblins, and a really cool car chase in her novel.  That car chase was very fun to read- most of the books I read don’t include one so that was interesting.

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Tyger Tyger (Goblin Wars, #1)

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