Tag Archive | shapeshifters

Review : Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Pages : 357
Genre : YA, Urban Fantasy
Series : Raised by Wolves, Book 2
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Bryn is barely settling into her new role as pack alpha when an unexpected were visitor steps on her land, close to death. His arrival is a danger in itself : Bryn can’t claim someone else’s wolf, yet she feels the need to protect him. Before she can decide whether he should stay or go, Bryn has to discover the true meaning of his presence, and face some new characters with unexpected talents.

My Thoughts :

In my very humble opinion, Trial by Fire wasn’t as good as Raised by Wolves has been, but it was still a very solid second volume in the series. Unlike so many others, it didn’t feel like a filler between book one and book three, but offered instead an interesting progression in Bryn’s story.

Again, I did feel that the book had a slow start. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it feels as if the author had all the pieces for the first part of the puzzle, but wasn’t sure how to fit them together; so instead of taking the time to fit them properly, she took a stick of glue and just stuck them together. I hope this isn’t too harsh of a comparison, because the author did hook me from the start and I was immediately intrigued by the newcomer, Lucas. Still, some parts of the introduction flow nicely, but some parts are very choppy; it’s a fault I found in the first book that I noticed here again, although not as strongly. Once the story gets going though, the pace is smoother and much more enjoyable.

I like Bryn, I really do. As a new pack alpha, she had a lot of responsibilities and difficult decisions to take, a position I did not envy. But she was strong and knew when to ask for help – and how to do it when laws made it difficult for her to reach out. I have to say I was a lot more interested by this aspect of her life than in her romance with Chase. In some ways, Chase is so disconnected from the pack’s reality that I found it really hard to connect to him. Bryn feels like she knows him in a unique way, because they survived and fought the same things, but for me Chase is still a close book. I don’t get him, and I don’t see how I could.

I really appreciated that the author brought an unexpected cast of new characters to the story, that were not wolves. I won’t say much more about it, because I want to make this as spoiler free as possible, but it opened up a lot of possibilities for future story lines while explaining a lot more about Bryn’s adoptive mother.

Trial by Fire was an entertaining novel filled with action and twists. Barnes delivers not only unexpected visitors but also unexpected turns in a story that kept me guessing. I enjoy to have a paranormal YA series that is focused less on the romance, and I’m hoping Taken by Storm will be available soon!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Raised by Wolves
  2. Trial by Fire
  3. Taken by Storm (coming in 2012)

Review : Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Pages : 418
Genre : YA, Urban Fantasy
Series : Raised by Wolves, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Bryn has been raised by wolves – or more exactly, werewolves. Even though she has a special bond with her pack and their leader, she can’t help questioning her place as a simple human in this group. When she discovers a strange boy locked in her leader’s basement, Bryn’s life is forever changed, pushing her to confront both the people she trusts and memories of her terrifying past.

My Thoughts :

I’ve been a bit grumpy towards YA fiction in 2011; I kept reading it, but more often then not I felt the same story kept repeating itself with only small variations. Fortunately, sometimes come along books like Unearthly and Raised by Wolves to remember me that not all fiction is created equal and that there are, indeed, YA novels deserving of my love.

To be fair, Raised by Wolves wasn’t without faults (but what book is?). It was slightly less engaging than Unearthly, especially since it was so slow to get going. If I compare the two, it’s only because I read them one after the other; these two share a genre but they are, in fact, two very distinct stories.

One of Raised by Wolves surprising aspect for me was the almost lack of romance. It’s there, of course, somewhere between the lines; there are even strong hints, I think, of a possible triangle. The fact is, Bryn is so busy trying to figure out the mysteries of Chase (the boy locked in the basement) and her past, and dealing with the consequences of her actions, that she barely has time to give romance a thought.

And talking of consequences, my oh my! I was kind of surprise how brutal the pack was. Well, it’s nothing more than what you’d see in regular urban fantasy I believe, but most YA tends to soften it up a bit. I think in this case, the author did a great job of illustrating the animal aspect of a werewolves pack with balance, in a realistic manner that didn’t embellish it too much.

There’s a lot happening in this intriguing book but it’s really not full of action. It’s often slow-moving and I didn’t really like how the author chose to tell the story, in a very linear manner, often skipping big chunks of time. It made it difficult to connect with Bryn and getting really into the story, and I’ll admit that when I was finally able to get into it, it was actually the third time I was picking up the book.

The conclusion was strong, I felt, leaving a lot of place to a following book while concluding this chapter of Bryn’s story. I loved the characters surrounding her and I can’t wait to see what Trial by Fire will bring for them!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Raised by Wolves
  2. Trial by Fire
  3. Taken by Storm (coming in 2012)

3 Reviews : Hex Hall, Firelight and The Candidates

Sometimes I don’t feel like talking to an extent about some of the books I’ve read, so I choose to go with the short reviews instead. I’ve done this in the past mainly with books I hadn’t enjoyed, but this time it’s not the case. Instead, here are three books I did enjoy reading but that didn’t leave a strong impression on me.

These share some similarities, as all three are the first of their series, and all have a paranormal aspect. They also all provided a healthy dose of entertainment – just what my brain needs when it’s time to turn off after a long day! And if only for that reason, they at least deserved a short mention here, because even though they might slip off my mind after some time, I’ll probably read their sequels anyway!

* * *

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Pages : 323
Genre : YA, Paranormal, Magic
Series : Hex Hall, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Ever since she’s discovered she’s a witch, Sophie has been prone to “incidents”. When one particular incident on prom night gets her in trouble, she is sent to Hex Hall, a school where witches like her but also shapeshifters and faeries get to learn to live with their abilities. When students start being attacked, Sophie has to pick her allies and decide who she can or can’t trust.

My Thoughts : This was quite fun, actually, and it makes me sad that I don’t have much to comment about it, because in the “quick paranormal read that entertains greatly” category, Hex Hall is one I am really glad to have read. Sophie was a likable character and I loved her sense of humor. It wasn’t the sarcastic-teen kind of humor we often see in YA fiction, it was simply fun.

Sophie has a love interest, of course, but while the author described their instant connection, I was never convinced by it. So, for me the romance really was second place to all the rest. On the other hand, I loved Sophie’s vampire roommate. Their friendship, I was convinced of. It was complex and realistic in the way they interacted with each other.

All in all, a cute read and I can’t wait to read the next book. 🙂

Series Reading Order :

  1. Hex Hall
  2. Demonglass
  3. Spell Bound (coming March 2012)

* * *

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Pages : 323
Genre : YA, Paranormal
Series : Firelight, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons with the secret power to take human form. When a dangerous turn of events forces Jacinda to flee from her home with her mom and her sister, she doesn’t feel prepared to face the mortal world. Once there though, only one thing makes her feel more alive : Will, the beautiful guy who’s a danger to her own family.

My Thoughts : Dragons! I love stories with dragons and the like, so between that and a fantastic cover, I was looking forward to this one. While it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped it to be, it certainly was an entertaining story with lots to twists and turns. The fact that Jacinda knows what she is from the start, rather than discovering her new abilities, also makes it different from many YA novels.

However, I felt there was a lot of repetitions in the narration, especially toward the middle. I felt Jacinda kept repeating the same complaints, again and again. Also, I didn’t feel the story went as smoothly as it could have gone. Despite that, I was left curious enough to put the next one (with an equally beautiful cover!) on my wishlist.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Firelight
  2. Vanish

* * *

The Candidates by Inara Scott
Pages : 293
Genre : YA, Fiction
Series : Delacroix Academy, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Weird things always happen around Dancia, especially when something threatens the people around her. But when, despite being average in everything, she gets offered a prestigious scholarship at the mysterious Delacroix Academy, Dancia knows this is her chance to change the course of her life.

My Thoughts : I wish the story stood out as much as the cover does, but sadly, I found it extremely predictable. The idea was fun : boarding schools and the like always make perfect settings for weird and mysterious stories, but I didn’t feel the author explored this one in a sufficient way. There was also too little surprise left for the reader, considering the “truth” is revealed really far in the book.

However, I found Dancia likable and the group of student intriguing enough to keep me reading. I’ll probably read book two, but I’m considering borrowing it rather than buying it.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Candidates
  2. The Marked