Tag Archive | vampires

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
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Review : Soulless

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Pages : 357
Genre : Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk
Series : The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1
My Rating :

From the back of the book :

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced! Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible.

I’ve been juggling with the idea of this review for a while now, but since I’m about to read the next book, now seemed like a good time to share my thoughts on the first one.

I’ll admit that, at first, Soulless was a huge disappointment from me. Part of it did came from the book itself I guess, but mostly it came from a misunderstanding on what the book was about. I got my copy soon after it came out, and read only a handful of reviews before reading it myself. Still, from all the publicity I saw on the blogs and various websites, Soulless was to be a paranormal novel set in a steampunk world. While this isn’t false, it isn’t true either.

Because Soulless turned out to be more about a paranormal romance than about the steampunk world. While I don’t have some prejudice against paranormal romance (I even read and enjoyed a few of those), it was a bit disappointing to see how little place took the steampunk elements. You could have easily suppressed them and made it a victorian paranormal romance, without much changes to the storyline.

That being said, I did enjoy my reading of Soulless. After having taken some distance from it, I have kept a mostly good memory of my time with Alexia. She annoyed me a little at times, and there were some repetitions (mostly about her physical appearance), but the writing had some great moments, too. The book definitely gave me a couple of smiles, and while the romance was a bit too buttery for my personal taste, it will definitely please those who enjoy some scenes of romantic hotness.

Gail Carriger has a unique voice and I’m sure this will shine even more through the following books. Now that I know what I’m in for, I am looking forward to reading Changeless!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Soulless
  2. Changeless
  3. Blameless
  4. Heartless (date to come)

Review : The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin
Pages : 766
Genre : Fiction, Vampires, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic
First in a series
My Rating :

In short : Post-apocalyptic setting involving zombie-vampires, a bunch of survivors and a 100 years old teenager.

From the Back of the Book :

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

“Not another review of The Passage!” is what you’re probably thinking if you haven’t read the book, aren’t planning on reading it or read it and didn’t enjoy it much.

Well, I’m sorry, really, but the book is really huge and is making my “to be reviewed” pile look twice as big as it actually is!

So.

I didn’t love The Passage as much as I wanted to. The premise had everything to grab my attention, but sadly the actual reading wasn’t as captivating as I had hoped it to be.

It’s not bad; many loved it and I can see why. First, I found Cronin’s writing to be really good. He has a distinctive voice and I found that to be refreshing. He also clearly has a huge imagination and a talent for detailing – which is a big part of the 766 pages. Lots of detailing. I enjoy details in descriptions, action, characters and I felt Cronin gave me everything I needed to recreate the scenes in my own mind. The precision was such that it felt a bit like watching a movie.

I love the idea of a vampire apocalypse; Cronin’s monsters really are monsters, and there’s no romance or other glittery feelings motivating their actions. They are all hunger and thirst and teeth, menacing creatures you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Or anywhere else, for that matter. The horror was present through every stage of the story, setting for the characters a terrible world where the key word is survival.

Now even though I could talk in length about the characters (which I mostly loved), I’m going to skip to the most negative part of the review, because sadly there is one. You see, I could have really, really loved The Passage. The story was reminiscent or early Stephen King and I love stories of epic length, especially when the characters fascinate me so. Sadly, the “epic length” was just too much; I felt, especially in the middle, that the story was dragging a bit. After a captivating 200 pages at the beginning, I felt let down. It doesn’t help that the story cut from the present to one hundred years in the future, and even though I had read about that fact in other reviews, I still had a hard time connecting with the new characters. I think the book could easily have been a 100 pages shorter with a better pace.

Also, the back of the book is partly misleading, as all this happens in about the first 200 pages of the book. After that, the story moves into that dark, horrific dystopian setting with a different group of characters.

From what I heard, book two will be out in 2012. I’m hoping that by then my disappointment with The Passage will have faded a little and that I’ll love the memory of the book more. It was a good story and I am curious to see where it leads to, but I really wished I could have given it five big stars.

Review : Glass Houses

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Pages : 247
Genre : YA, Urban Fantasy
Series : The Morganville Vampires, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

When things turn bad with the popular girls at her dorm, Claire Denvers decides enough is enough. She heads off-campus and finds a room in an old house, where she’ll hopefully be able to concentrate on her studies. Her new roommates might not bully her, but they certainly don’t act “normal”; and as she gets to know them, Claire realizes creatures even more menacing than a group of girls might be running the dark streets of Morganville.

The Morganville Vampires series isn’t the most recent of the vampire craze; at 8 books and counting, I think it’s safe to say that it is quite a popular one, too. After reading Glass Houses, I can see why the series would get such good attention from readers, but I found some aspects of it to be too irritating to fully enjoy it.

If I was to rate the book on its entertainment factor only, it would be a solid 4 out of 5. The pace was good, the story interesting, the setting just enough predictable but still intriguing. It’s a perfect book to sit, read and relax. When it comes to the plot and the characters’ motivations thought, I was left wanting more.

Sadly, Claire is the one I couldn’t quite get – and she is also the main character. I understand the love for studying and wanting to achieve the best grades in the best school; being a student, I perfectly do! But to risk your life for it? Hum, no. Heidenkind said it perfectly in her review of Glass Houses, with a letter describing perfectly why Claire is a bit idiotic. I completely agree.

Still, I enjoyed the setting. A vampire town is a cool place to be if you’re a teen novel’s heroine, and I thought there were some good ideas in there. There were also details not making sense, which pretty much all brought me to the same question (Claire, why would you want to stay in this crazy town!?), but I enjoyed the rest of it enough to put them aside and enjoy the reading. I have to say that I enjoyed how they explained people not knowing about the real nature of Morganville.

Glass Houses wasn’t a book without problems, but there was just enough to keep me curious. I know I’ll be reading at least a couple more books in the series, and hopefully I’ll learn to appreciate Claire and her irrational decisions!

To those of you who did read the book(s), what did you think? Did you enjoy it? Is Claire making more sense as the series progresses?

Series reading order :

  1. Glass Houses
  2. The Dead Girls’ Dance
  3. Midnight Alley
  4. Feast of Fouls
  5. Lord of Misrule
  6. Cape Corpus
  7. Fade Out
  8. Kiss of Death
  9. Ghost Town (coming November 2010)

Review : City of Glass

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Pages : 541
Genre : YA, Urban Fantasy
Series : The Mortal Instruments, Book 3
My Rating :

From the Back of the Book :

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters — never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City — whatever the cost?

Third in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Glass is an action-packed novel that offers a very well rounded conclusion to previous storylines. At 541 pages, the book isn’t light, but there’s so much going on that the reader won’t be bored.

City of Glass has a lot of good points, however it was my least favorite of the three books. Unlike the two previous ones, where twists and new plots were surprising us every couple of pages, I found this book to be quite predictable. Very soon in the beginning I had a good idea of how things would turn out and yes, they did just as I thought. At some points in the book, I felt Clare was a little too obvious in her writing : she would write that one of her characters felt that this or that “felt wrong” and, sure enough, 200 pages later, a huge twist happened revealing that things were, indeed, very very wrong. Huh.

One of the things I enjoyed as the books progressed was Clary’s part into the story. At first, she was a lot more of an observer than a real participant. It made sense in a way : she knew nothing of her abilities or of this new world. In City of Glass, she allies knowledge and action, initiating more events rather than living through them. I still found her annoying at time, but that didn’t keep me from liking her most of the time!

We also learned a lot more on the dynamics of the Shadowhunters world, and the more we learned, the less I found resemblances to the Buffy Universe. That’s not a bad thing, more of an observation! In fact, it’s a good thing that Clare has her own original universe.

In the end, I thought this was a lot of fun, but I’m not a fan as I am of, let’s say, Collins’ The Hunger Games. I would still recommend it to those of you who enjoy YA and urban fantasy with a lot of action, twists, and romance!

Series Reading Order :

  1. City of Bones
  2. City of Ashes
  3. City of Glass
  4. City of Fallen Angels (published 2011)

Review : City of Ashes

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Pages : 453
Genre : YA, Urban Fantasy
Series : The Mortal Instruments, Book 2
My Rating :

From the Back of the Book :

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

Having now read the three books in the series, I can say this is definitely my favorite! Lots of actions, many twists and turns, mysteries, danger, great developments for the characters; I really enjoyed it! Clare created a sequel worth of its predecessor and I flew through the pages in just a couple of days.

I really can’t say much more than that without risking spoiling it; however, there is one thing I would like to talk about – or should I say, one character, and that character is Alec. I have to say, I just love what Clare did with him!

Very soon in the first book, we learn that Alec is gay. To be honest, I have some difficulties with the typical homosexuals we often meet in books and movies. You know the one : the fashion-obsessed, gossipy, high-pitched voice, colorful gay who’s function if mostly comic-relief. I understand that some gays fit that stereotype – I worked for many years in the Gay Village in Montreal and I did meet them! But if I look at the guys I personally know that are gays, none of them really fit that description. Anyway, that is a whole other debate that would deserve its own post, so back to the review :

I liked Alec because he was exactly NOT like this. If you take away all the parts discussing his love life, there is nothing pointing at his sexual orientation : he doesn’t walk around in sparkly pants, worship Madonna or panics if his hair gets undone. His sexual orientation is part of who he is rather than being the thing that completely defines him. In other words, I was glad he wasn’t used as a ridiculous comic relief : Alec is a character you can take seriously. He is a complex guy who has yet to completely accept this part of who he is, and I really felt for him (much more than I did for Clary, I have to say).

So yes, I enjoyed this one, and even more after reading the third book since some issues that were bothering me were then fixed. If you’re into fast-pace paranormal novels and you enjoyed the first book, this one is definitely one not to miss!

Series Reading Order :

  1. City of Bones
  2. City of Ashes
  3. City of Glass
  4. City of Fallen Angels (published 2011)