Tag Archive | werewolves

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)

Review : Forever

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Pages : 386
Genre : YA, Romance, Werewolves
Series : The Wolfes of Mercy Fall, Book 3
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Sam used to be the wolf; now, it’s Grace’s turn to be one, and as a result they haven’t seen each other in a long while.

But the weather is changing, and Grace will soon get to be herself again. Before that though, Grace, Sam, Isabelle and Cole must find a way to save the wolves from being completely eliminated by the scared residents of Mercy Fall.

My Thoughts :

Forever clicked for me like the previous two books in the series hadn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading Shiver and Linger, of course, or I wouldn’t have continued with the series. But Forever tied Grace’s story perfectly, with great emotion and tension like only Stiefvater can do it.

I was less bothered by the multiple voices this time around, and I felt that I knew who was narrating the different parts of the story most of the time. Grace and Cole’s voices were the clearer to me, and though I enjoyed Isabelle’s character tremendously (I have since the beginnings, in fact), Sam still left me cold. I felt for the guy, and all he’s been through; but I thought his character was mostly there as a support for Grace and the wolves, rather than living his own story.

I also love the direction the author took with Grace’s parents. They have been less than good examples of parenting in the past, and they weren’t much more stellar in Forever. But at least though, I felt there was a part of resolution between Grace and her parents. Not a complete understanding, but a step forward for a future we won’t be witnesses to.

Once more, I also loved the slow pace of the story, the quietness of the scenes. There is little happening at times, but I love this different pacing that creates a different kind of tension. At first, you almost can’t feel it’s there, until everything ties up together in the end.

Though the characters are teenagers, and though it does translate in some of their actions, reading Forever didn’t make me feel like I’m reading YA literature. Stiefvater’s writing was as beautiful as it had been in her previous two novels. I rarely feel this, but I believe in this case the covers really correspond to the simplicity yet enchanting tone of the author’s voice. It’s amazing how, sometimes with so few words, she can express heartbreak and fear and love.

What a perfect ending to a great series! I can only hope other fans of the first two books will enjoy this one as much as I did.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Shiver
  2. Linger
  3. Forever

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 : Linger

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Pages : 360
Genre : YA, Romance, Werewolves
Series : The Wolfes of Mercy Fall, Book 2
My Rating :

From the series’s website :

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

I was really looking forward to reading Linger, sequel to the beautiful Shiver. While it didn’t live up to my expectations, I still enjoyed it enough to get to the end – and now I’m a bit impatient to read the final book of the trilogy!

Stiefvater writes beautifully, I can’t deny this. And while I loved the fact that, in Shiver, the narration alternated between Sam and Grace, this time around I found it less enjoyable ; mainly because the author chose to narrate the story from no less than four points-of-view, sometimes changing in the middle of a scene. I get that she tries to take the reader into the characters’ minds, but for me it got a bit confusing.

But back to the story : Sam and Grace are still completely in love, a love that I found to be intoxicating. They depend on each other so much that I wondered if one stops breathing, will the other survive? Their love is strong though, and believable, and I do think they belong together. I was glad to see more of Isabelle, whom I loved in the first book, and while Cole is a difficult character to “get”, I really enjoyed what he brought to the story’s dynamics. I also found interesting all the “science” surrounding the wolves, and it really makes me want to know more about it.

Finally, I have to mention Grace’s parents! Many readers have noted how absent they were in the first book, but this time around their presence can’t be denied. To me though, they weren’t suddenly being good parents : on the contrary, I thought their motivation was a bit selfish! They didn’t take care of Grace as long as she was perfect, and the day she “acts out”, they suddenly want to put rules and constraints : I felt they were more annoyed for having to care for her, than really worried for her.

Like in Shiver, I thought the story was slow to start, but once again the author created a very strong ending!  Like I said, I loved the last pages and I can’t wait to put my hands on Forever. Oh, the wait!

Also, how beautiful is the cover? As lyrical as the writing is, for sure!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Shiver
  2. Linger
  3. Forever (coming 2011)

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)