Rain

cover artRain is Amanda Sun’s sequel to Ink (I recommend you read that first).

Sun’s urban fantasy is exciting and different from any other series I’ve read. The Kami mythology is intriguing and it was great to learn more about the powers and history. The idea of drawings and words that literally come to life is fascinating. Add the angst of competition, identity crisis, and doomed romance and you have a great novel for teens.

Tomo’s drawings turning against him and those he loved seems like a metaphor that could be explored at length in a book club or essay.

The contrast of beautiful scenery and gang violence, and intricate art and monstrous ink creates amazing imagery. The characters ruled by their jealousy and fears have back-stories that make the reader sympathetic.

I sometimes struggled to keep track of who was who because of the cultural differences. Everyone calls people by different names because your relationship is reflected in the name you use. This would be really confusing for me and I’m glad Sun has Katie struggle with it too.

I actually found the chemistry between Katie and Jun more convincing than the chemistry between her and Tomo. I’m not sure he ever did or said anything that made me feel like he was worth all the trouble they go through. However, I think this was partly intentional because there had to be some distance between them to create the love triangle- or hexagon if you consider all the people competing for Tomo’s and Jun’s affection not just Katie’s.

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Tempestuous

I received Tempestuous as a submission for the YABA

It’s been a long time since I read the previous books in this series (well not in terms of time exactly, but I’ve read a lot since then and a lot has changed in my life) so I found myself a bit confused at the beginning of this novel, having trouble remembering where Darklight left off. I don’t think this novel stands well on it’s own, you have to be familiar with the rest of the series for it to work and while I was at one time I have become disconnected and found I didn’t really care about the characters anymore.

I had high hopes for this novel but I slugged through it, not really caught up in the action. The second half was better than the first, because I preferred Kelley’s part of the story to Sonny feeling sorry for himself that Kelley said she didn’t love him. I don’t think that Livingston lived up to her potential with this book. Once Every Never was more compelling in language, plot and emotion.

Contemporary takes on Shakespeare, dark faeries and urban fantasy are very big right now making this an in demand series. However while I love the genre and what this sets out to do I’m not sure this particular novel lives up to the hype.

Black Heart

*I received the ARC of Black Heart by Holly Black courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada

This book was AMAZING. I was dying to read it because I loved the first two but had to read my award books first. Normally if I’m this excited for a book I’m disappointed. I wasn’t. If you haven’t read White Cat or Red Glove go read those first.

The plot is great, and has some sneaky twists I didn’t expect. There are scary parts that make your heart race, there are sexy parts that do the same. Romance is not a big part of the story but the glimpses of it we see through the male perspective are pretty awesome. The action comes in powerful waves. I wasn’t sure what could happen in this novel that could live up to the rest of the series, but I was impressed.

The best part is the way the writing flows. I can never put down these books. After dredging through a bunch of books lately that were not really my thing this novel was like cheesecake- smooth, sweet, and gone before you know it.

Cassel is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters. He’s brave, strong, intelligent, loyal, mischievous and handsome. He’s a criminal who wants to be good. I love him for his vulnerability more than his strength. Black’s writing is at it’s best when he is questioning himself. His relationships with his family, crime family, friends, and Federal Agent colleagues are very complex. He isn’t sure who he is or who he wants to be, which influences who’s side he can be on and who he trusts at any given moment.I’m not doing him justice at all.

The secondary characters feel almost as real as Cassel. Barron is a sociopath who someone manages to earn some sympathy from the reader. Lila is a mobster princess who you can’t help but love. Daneca is brilliant but has terrible taste in men. Sam is a nerdy sweetheart who proves himself to be pretty bad ass. They are all so much more than this, and you can’t help but feel like you know them.

My only complaint is I don’t like the new covers because I think they are too girly for a series that is very guy friendly. This is a common problem in YA publishing that irks me.

Unicorn hunters in nun outfits

Ascendent by Diana Peterfreund is the sequel to Rampant so if you haven’t read that go check out that review.

It’s pretty rare that a sequel is better than the original book (although sometimes they are easier to get into because you know the characters) but I loved Ascendent.

cover artAstrid spends much of the novel conflicted about her duties, which I enjoyed because slaughtering unicorn babies is quite different than protecting someone from a giant unicorn about to crush or poison them. I think if Astrid wasn’t torn about how she should use her powers or if she wanted this life I wouldn’t have liked her. Phil manages to play both sides of the unicorn hunting debate with grace, leading the protests about eliminating an endangered species and simultaneously leading the hunters that are doing the killing. She refuses to play the victim after being raped and remains one of the strongest characters.

There are lots of ridiculous jokes about virginity because it’s a requirement for the unicorn magic and “getting out of the business” of unicorn hunting is a euphemism that get’s overused a bit. The thing is that it works for the book, because Peterfreund pokes fun at the purity requirement. She has Astrid’s band of unicorn huntresses be pressured into wearing nun habits as hunting uniforms because the church that sponsors them thinks they are showing too much skin and should be representing themselves in a more civilized manner. The resulting camouflage habits covered in blood create a both hilarious and disturbing image, that plays on the ironies of the “innocent” warrior.

Both Giovonni and Brandt fell short for me in the romance department. Not the most attractive love interests if you ask me, Astrid could do better. I think the lesbian couple were the cutest together.

The roles of the media and the pharmaceutical company are really interesting and I wish there would have been more details about them both.

The section of the book after Astrid is injured in battle is my favourite part, but alas I will avoid spoilers….

 

 

City of Bones

I was fortunate enough to get City of Bones at a library book sale for criminally cheap.

I can see why Cassandra Clare and Holly Black are friends (or at least seem like they are, I don’t know them personally – unfortunately!) because they have the same wonderful dark, sarcastic humour. The tone of their books are similar, with that edgy-funny feel to an action/adventure story with magic.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)The dialogue (especially in the first half) felt incredibly real; unlike the last couple of books I’ve been reading. These were more believable young characters in a fantasy than the characters in realistic fiction. I love that, when the magic and mythology doesn’t take away from the humanity of characters.

The mythology of this series is certainly ambitious. So intricate! I don’t think I would want to take on so many types of supernatural beings in one novel, I’d spend half the time on exposition and bore the reader. Clare never bored me though, she wove the world around the story seamlessly. I had a hard time putting the book down, because I was so immersed in the world.

This is a series I’ve been meaning to read for what seems like ages, and part of me regrets waiting so long to discover it’s level of awesome- but another part of me is glad because YIPEE I already own the next book and have the 3rd waiting for me at the library. That’s the beauty of being a latecomer to a book, you don’t have a long wait for sequels.

I didn’t like the last fourth of the book nearly as much as the beginning. This was largely because I predicted what would happen and was disappointed to be right. I wanted so badly to be wrong about a certain plot twist!! I find it to be icky and reminiscent of the worst part about Star Wars (which I love anyway) and a lot of soap operas. However, the plot twist I’m not a fan of was handled very nicely, and I’m still eager to dig into City of Ashes.