Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sweet addiction by Maya Banks

Ten years ago Cole hurt Ren while they were experimenting with BDSM and the experience left her with a physical scar - and Cole with an emotional one.  He walked out afterwards, riddled with guilt and left her to find her own way through the feelings and emotions she experienced for the first time with him.  Flash forward to the present and Cole is still involved in the BDSM world, but he has never connected with anyone in the way he did with Ren, and Ren is living with Lucas - a willing submissive to this very dominant man.  When Cole happens to come across Ren again he feels a need to own and dominate her that he hasn't felt for all those years in between, and then just when it seems as though she will slip through his fingers again, Lucas offers him an amazing gift - two weeks where Ren will be his again to dominate as he wishes.  Ren is caught between the two men, one who has loved and cherished her for over a year giving her everything she needs, and the man who left her scarred physically and emotionally after he left. 

Sweet addiction is one of those books that was definitely a guilty pleasure, not just because there is explicit sexual content (and the little black label on the book told the whole world as much) but also because it was one of those books where the sex really was the centre of the book, and the plot and characters were the little bit on the side.  Don't get me wrong, there is a plot and there are characters, but they are not particularly well developed, and at the beginning of the book they almost seemed like a parody of people, almost moving like puppets and expressing black and white emotions and thoughts, but this got a lot better as the story moved forward and the plot developed a little bit more.  Judging from the title it seems as though this might be part of a series, and there may have been some expectation that the reader had some of the background - as I haven't read anything else by this author I did feel a little disappointed, like I had been cheated out of getting to know the characters a little better.

There are some great surprises and little touches in this book, and while the BDSM elements wont appeal to every reader, it does sit quite well with the whole Fifty shades of Grey phenomena and while I haven't read Fifty shades yet (because it is just too difficult to get hold of at the moment), Sweet addiction appears to be in a similar vein, more of a love story than just being about the BDSM - some of which is quite graphic but no more so than other sexually explicit content books of this type.

If you like this book then try:
  • Sweet possession by Maya Banks
  • Fifty shades of Grey by E.L. James
  • Belong to me by Shayla Black
  • Velvet glove by Emma Holly

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, July 30, 2012

The girl in the steel corset by Kady Cross

When Finley Jayne defends herself from the unwanted advances of her employer she runs into the night knowing that her employment is at an end - but she has no idea that her life is about to change beyond comprehension.  After she is run down by Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne, she finds herself taken into his home and into his inner circle of friends - where each friend has an extraordinary skill that makes them unique.  Griffin can access the Aether, Emily has an amazing touch with machines and healing, Sam is a hulking great brute with unbelieavble strength and a gentle heart, and their American friend Jasper has some secrets of his own.  It is a strange world Finley has entered, and she is not the only one struggling to make sense of what is happening because there is someone working against Griffin and his friends - and he won't stop until he gets what he wants.

The concept for the Girl in the steel corset was amazing, a kind of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for a new era with teenagers as the heroes - sadly though the book itself was just so blah.  I finished it, but only because I was skim reading through the pages as quickly as possible to find out what happened, but not reading all the bone numbingly boring details.  The novel is set in a steampunk world, I get it, I didn't need to have every single outfit worn by Finley described in minute boring detail, or for so much time to be sent describing things - saying they disabled the bike works so much better than having several sentences describing how they went about disabling the bikes.  The only redeeming feature of the novel for me was the relationships between the main characters and the depth to the main characters, but even then some of the relationships and reactions were so two dimensional and clumsily written that it almost made me shudder.

I have to confess that as an adult reading this I may be missing some of the subtleties that make this series appeal to teenagers, but it lacks so much that I genuinely feel it will be a disappointment to other readers who are expecting an intelligent read set in a sophisticated world.  Despite the authors best intentions this just fell flat and was a rushed read to reach the slightly less than satisfying conclusion.  There are other books to the series so it may be that the satisfaction comes from reading more of the series, but I am not 100% hopeful of this fact.

If you like this book then try:

  • The girl in the clockwork collar by Kady Cross
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  • City of bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  • The clockwork angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Mortal engines by Philip Reeve
  • Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
  • The Hunchback assignments by Arthur Slade
  • Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  • Worldshaker by Richard Harland
Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Down the back of the chair by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Our car is slow to start and go.
We can't afford a new one.
Now, if you please, Dad's lost the keys.
We're facing rack and ruin.

No car, no work!  No work, no pay!
We're growing poorer day by day.
No wonder Dad is turning grey.
The morning is a blue one.

So starts Down the back of the chair by Margaret Mahy, a rollicking and rhyming story of a family that has very little money and a car that won't work.  Their lives may be going to custard, but they are not a family to despair - oh no - with urging from one of the youngest family members they decide to look down the back of the chair to see what they can find.  What they find down the back of the chair is a weird and wonderful mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary!

I have performed this story with others and it is a pleasure to read it aloud and watch the wonder on the audiences faces as the next amazing item appears from the back of the chair.  Some stories don't work so well when you read them to a large audience, but it seems that this is one of those stories that gets better with a bigger audience, one that draws the children (and adults) into the story and refuses to let them go - and the louder the volume the better!

While Margaret Mahy has written a wide range of books that have won awards nationally in New Zealand and internationally, I have always loved her picture books more than anything else.  She is a treasure of children's literature who will be sadly missed.  Rest in peace Margaret.

Morning report, Tuesday 24 July 2012, Children's author Margaret Mahy dies at 76

Other books by Margaret Mahy:
  • The man whose mother was a pirate by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
  • Bubble trouble by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Polly Dunbar
  • A lion in the meadow by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Jenny Williams
  • Dashing dog by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Sarah Garland
  • The moon and Farmer McPhee by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by David Elliot
  • Jam by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Helen Craig
  • The three-legged cat by Magaret Mahy; illustrated by Jonathan Allen
  • A summery Saturday morning by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Selina Young

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff

Annice has the dubious pleasure of being the Princess Bard, a member of the royal family until she asked her dying father to let her become a Bard and her brother over reacted somewhat to the decision.  Ten years later and Annice is just one Bard amongst many, extra special because she can sing the kigh of all four quarters, but other than that she is just one Bard working for the good of the kingdom.  That simple life is somewhat derailed when she finds out that she is pregnant - an act that her brother declared treason ten years earlier, and that is not the only complication - the baby's father is declared guilty of treason and sentenced to death, and for some reason Annice is compelled to talk to him before his death sentence is carried out, a decision that will change both their lives.

Pjerin a'Stasiek, the Duc of Ohrid is tall, dark, and handsome - he is also headstrong, stubborn, and used to making his own way.  When he utters the words that condemn him to death he is shocked and angry, because the words that come out of his mouth are not his own, and the only person he can think of who might have put them there is the Bard Annice.  Dragged to the capital for his final trial and death, the last thing he expects is for Annice to come and talk to him - okay maybe it wasn't the last thing, finding out she was pregnant with his child was an even bigger shock.  Travelling cross country with a pregnant person isn't easy, but travelling with a pregnant Bard introduces all sorts of interesting challenges - especially as Annice's time grows nearer and her connection to the earth kigh grows stronger as well.

Sing the four quarters is nearly 20 years old now, and this is not the first time I have read it, but it was still an enjoyable read.  The idea of the kigh was particularly enjoyable, especially some of the quirky little things they did when they were not impressed with Annice (don't worry no spoilers) or when they were being curious about things and got in the way.  At times it felt like the story was dragged out in a way that wasn't necessary, but Huff was layering the story to add more depth and had several subplots which made the book better on the whole - just a little long winded.  This is the first book in a series of four (currently anyway) and the edition I read was an omnibus with Sing the four quarters and Fifth quarter in one volume - although with all the books to read on my shelf I didn't continue into Fifth quarter. 

Huff can have a flair for writing fantasy, and her urban fantasies are usually very good, but there was something a little bit lacking in Sing the four quarters.  Don't expect a high fantasy and you should enjoy this book as Huff does a good job of world building for her Bards and their enemies.  There is a little bit of romance, there is plenty of conflict, and there are some great fantasy sequences.

If you like this book then try:
  • Fifth quarter by Tanya Huff
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff
  • The Lark and the Wren by Mercedes Lackey
  • Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Joust by Mercedes Lackey
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  • The Elvenbane by Andre Norton
  • The Diamond throne by David Eddings
  • The redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings
  • Dhampir by Barb and J.C Hendee

Reviewed by Brilla

Dark descendant by Jenna Black

Nikki Glass is a private investigator and she is very good at what she does.  She has a good job, a good life, and adoptive parents who love her like she was their own daughter - the only downside really is having a perfect sister who seems to have a knack for setting her up with Mr. Wrong instead of Mr. Right.  When a client calls in the middle of yet another disastrous date with Mr. Very Wrong Nikki jumps at the chance to escape, but she ends up killing her client and totalling her car in one easy step.  When she wakes up she thinks things can't get any worse, but she is about to discover something about herself that she never knew - she is the mortal descendant of one of the Greek Gods.

Life is suddenly very complicated - not only does she now have to deal with fact that she is immortal and can't die, she also has to deal with the fact that she is now caught in the middle of a war that she doesn't understand.  On one hand there is Anderson and his people, the "cult" that her client wanted her to investigate and rescue his girlfriend from - and on the other hand there is Konstantin and his Olympians who want Nikki to work for them at any cost.  Nikki has never been so popular, even if it is for all the wrong reasons and she only has a very short space of time to figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys are - because she can either be an ally for the right side, or a pawn for the wrong side.

Nikki is an interesting character who has a stubborn streak a mile long that pushes her to make her own way in the world, never taking handouts or accepting the financial support of her loving adoptive parents.  Her sister is beautiful, intelligent, loving, and loyal - and becomes a pawn in the fight to gain control of Nikki and her powers.  It is never easy to discover that what you think is the truth is just a glimmer of the real truth, and Nikki struggles to understand her place in the struggle to control the powers passed on to the human descendants of the gods, and it is especially hard when she comes to understand that her destiny has been hanging over her since she was born - years before her mother abandoned her and left her angry and untrusting.  Nikki is flawed, she is human, and she is also so much more.

There are some really great moments in Dark descendant, and there are some rather blah moments as well, but overall it blends together to make a readable story.  The wealth of mythology Black has to draw on means there is the potential for ongoing strong storylines, and there are some rather interesting characters that mean things will/can get better.  I am currently waiting for book two in the series and will see if that is a little bit better in the delivery department.  A fun read overall, just don't expect award winning prose and you won't be disappointed.

If you like this book then try:
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Angel's blood by Nalini Singh
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • A brush of darkness by Allison Pang
  • Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs
  • Etched in bone by Adrian Phoenix
  • River marked by Patricia Briggs
  • Black wings by Christina Henry
  • Mark of the demon by Diana Rowland

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Snow in Summer: Fairest of them all by Jane Yolen

Snow in Summer is only a young child when her mother dies after giving birth to her baby brother, and she can only watch as her father falls into despair at the loss of his beloved wife.  With the help of her Cousin Nancy, Snow in Summer makes it through the next few years, a time when her father is distant and spends time each evening at her mothers grave.  Everyone in town thinks he will get over it eventually and marry Cousin Nancy, but the person he marries instead is a woman that Cousin Nancy calls a witch.

Snow in Summer tries to fit in with her new stepmother, but something is not right, and no matter what she does she can't seem to make the woman love her.  Used to having people around her who love her and call her simply Summer, it is a shock to have a woman who seems to want things she can't give and who insists on calling her Snow.  As the years pass the relationship remains strained, but with the help of her Cousin Nancy Summer is able to find some relief, but then her stepmother comes decides she has waited long enough and decides to put another plan into action - one that can only have fatal consequences for Summer.

Snow in Summer is a reworking of the classic fairytale Snow White - bringing the story into a more modern era and changing the relationship slightly to make it a little more creepy and, for lack of better term, realistic.  Jane Yolen is a prolific author and writes a wide range of novels for children that are bursting with drama, suspense, and pure magic.  Snow in Summer takes a traditional story and gives it new life, and while you can guess some of the things that happen because there is the echo of the original story, there are also some twists and touches that are completely Jane Yolen.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it will appeal to a wide range of readers - from confident younger readers who want a good read, through to 'tweens and younger teens who are looking for an enjoyable read that is not too challenging or wordy.  The best part is that when they (or you) have finished reading this book there are dozens more Jane Yolen's to read, and many more retellings of classic tales too.

If you enjoy this book then try:
  • Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
  • Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
  • A true princess by Diane Zahler
  • Princess of the midnight ball by Jessica Day George
  • Dragons blood by Jane Yolen
  • The wizards map by Jane Yolen
  • Ella enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
  • Golden by Cameron Dokey
  • Northwood by Brian Falkner
  • The Rose Bride by Nancy Holder
  • Snow by Tracy Lynn
  • The golden door by Emily Rodda

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

Welcome to Y4, the secret ward buried within the halls of County hospital, a place where all the supernaturals can get the tender loving care they need to get over whatever ails them.  The newest nightshift nurse is Edie Spence, who made a bargain - she works on the ward despite the low pay and potential risks, and her junky brother gets rescued from his addictions.  It seems like an okay deal, until one of her patients dies on the ward and Edie finds herself dragged into a dangerous game of cat and mouse - where someone else is definitely the cat.

In way over her head, Edie does the best she can, but the best she can involves a potentially lethal date with a vampire court, a one night stand that is being more than one-night-standish, a were dragon with some bad manners, and a zombie that is stirring feelings she hasn't felt before.  To top it off she has to deal with a world that most people don't realise exists - let alone the dangers that lurk just around the corner.  Welcome to Y4 where you can check out - but you can never leave.

Cassie Alexander is an active registered nurse and it shows in the level of medical details she includes in her debut novel - an intriguing blend of fantasy, medical drama, with just a few cc's of romance.  The action is fast paced, and the plot races along while also world building, a nice mix as sometimes the world building in series can distract from the storyline.  Alexander has made some interesting choices for her world, keeping some of the traditional elements of the genre (vampires, check, zombies, check, weres, check) but she has created some "rules" and "norms" that are different from your typical supernatural drama/thriller/romance.  If you have read any of my reviews before you will know that I am big on mythology and "sense" - the story has to make sense and there have to be some rules to make the world more real.

This was not the easiest book to get into for the first few chapters because it almost seemed too much like a hospital drama, but it became less noticeable as I read further through.  The set up for the rest of the series looks good and I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see what happens to Edie and the rest of the cast.  It was nice to read a fantasy novel with a bit of bite that also has our own world so well represented.

If you like this book then try:
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Deadly descendant by Jenna Black
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, July 13, 2012

Slated by Teri Terry

Kyla has no memory of who she was, all she knows is the hospital - this is all she knows because she has been Slated.  Being Slated is supposed to be a new start for teenagers who have broken the law or been traumatised to the point that they want a new start, it is supposed to give them the chance to start life again with a clean slate.  All Kyla really knows is that she is not like the other people around her, even her sister Amy who has also been Slated, and the kids at school wont let her forget that she was Slated.  To make matters worse she is the only patient her doctor has, and her doctor seems to be keeping secrets, but Kyla has been keeping secrets too.

The levo device that is part of the slating process records her moods and is supposed to stop her from getting too emotional, and it is supposed to stop her getting angry or depressed.  Kyla tries to be good, and tries to work through the nightmares which threaten to trigger a dangerous, and fatal, reaction from her levo.  When Kyla makes a connection with Ben, one of the other Slateds at her school she begins to feel the faint stirrings of hope and even love, but destiny and fate seem to be working against her - as does her past.  As Kyla settles into her new life strange and dangerous events start to unfold and Kyla may lose everything she holds dear if she can't figure out what is going on and why.

Slated in the first book in a new series that shows great promise - if Teri Terry can keep the suspense, tension, and pace going.  The writing style is a little unusual and took some getting used to, but once you are used to the broken style of breaking up sentences the story takes over.  There has been a trend to write dystopian novels over the past few years, but most of them are set several hundred (if not thousands) of years after something happened within society - but Slated is one of an emerging trend to focus on the events that occurred leading towards that final dystopian society.  This is somewhat more interesting than an established dystopian society as you get to see that way people react, the way they respond to changes and reductions in their civil liberties.

Slated is one of the longer novels I have read lately (at more than 400 pages) but the chapters are relatively small so you can pick it up and put it down - although I did try and read it as a sprint rather than a marathon because it was compelling and I wanted to see what happened next.  I look forward to reading Fractured and hope that Terry is able to keep the story as intense and interesting.

If you like this book then try:
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • Chosen ones by Tiffany Truitt
  • Partials by Dan Wells
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre
  • No safety in numbers by Dayna Lorentz
  • The always war by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The declaration by Gemma Malley

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, July 9, 2012

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Sunday is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and each of her sisters bears the name of a day of the week, and each of them carries a gift from their fairy godmother.  Sunday has always felt that her mother lacks imagination, and that her name reflects this, she also knows that her mothers words have power.  Sunday shares that gift, and she must be careful because every time she writes something down it tends to come true, but not always in the way she plans.  Her family lives in a simple home in the country, and each of them have a task to do to keep the family clothed and fed, although Sunday always tries to find the time to write down her thoughts and memories in her journal, collecting together her story, her family story, and the stories that her family bring back to her on their travels.
While she is writing in her journal one day a frog comes along that talks, not an amazing thing in itself in a land of fairy godmothers, curses, and enchantments - but the growing friendship between them is a surprise.  Sunday finds in Grumble a friend like no other, a friend that sees her for what she is and accepts her for what she is - even if he does ask her to kiss him to break the enchantment.  As their friendship grows, Grumble learns more about Sunday and her family - and he learns that her family will never accept him because they hold him responsible for the fate of one of their sons and brothers.  When the spell is miraculously broken, Grumble returns to his human shape and begins the task of winning over the heart that he has broken. 
Alethea Kontis draws on fairytale lore to create a world rich in detail and character, with a cast of characters both good and evil that make up the fabric of a society that is amazingly accepting of talking animals and fairy godmother gifts/curses.  Sunday is a charming character that you warm to immediately, and while at times you feel like shaking Prince Rumbold and telling him to get over himself, he is also remarkably loveable.  The detail in Enchanted is amazing, but it also doesn't drown you by being too much, it is just the right amount to keep you thoroughly engrossed.  The characters are also a charming blend of humour, drama, love, conflict, and grief.  There is no one clear fairytale here, but it adds to the story rather than detracting from it - becoming its own story rather than a mere echo of someone elses.  A great read and hopefully there will be more in the future from this great author.

If you like this book then try:
  • Ella enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • The treachery of beautiful things by Ruth Frances Long
  • Princess of the midnight ball by Jessica Day George
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Bewitching by Alex Flinn
  • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  • Daughter of smoke and bone by Laini Taylor
  • Article 5 by Kristin Simmons
  • Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Crown duel by Sherwood Smith
  • Dealing with dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Reviewed by Brilla

Into the land of the unicorns by Bruce Coville

When the stranger starts chasing Cara and her grandmother, Cara has no idea that she will soon leave the world behind, and that a great adventure waits for her in the land of Luster - the land of the Unicorns.  Luster is a strange world, a place where there are all kinds of animals and creatures, including beautiful unicorns that fled the Hunters of our world many years before.  Lost and alone, Cara finds she is not alone for long when a young unicorn named Lightfoot becomes her friend and agrees to take her to the Old One to pass on her grandmothers message.  But Cara did not come to Luster alone, and when she finds out who the stranger is, her whole world could fall apart.

Into the land of the unicorns is the first book in the unicorn chronicles series, and while it is a really old book now (older than most of the people who would read it no doubt) it is the first book in a charming series that will appeal to younger fantasy readers - even those boys who think that unicorns are just for girls.  The land of Luster is not all sweetness and nice, there are bad guys here, and there are forces at work that will do anything to stop the unicorns and hunt them to extinction.  Without giving away too much of the story we discover a lot of the history of Luster and people through Cara's eyes as she learns more about herself and where she came from. 

This is a not too difficult, not too easy, fantasy for younger readers who want to read something that is interesting and engaging, without the story being too difficult to read.  Bruce Coville is a great author for younger readers with a vivid imagination (Coville and the children he writes for) and he will keep them entertained with his well crafted tales.

If you like this book then try:
  • Song of the wanderer by Bruce Coville
  • Dark whispers by Bruce Coville
  • The last hunt by Bruce Coville
  • Jeremy Thatcher, dragon hatcher by Bruce Coville
  • My teacher fried my brains by Bruce Coville
  • Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda
  • The golden door by Emily Rodda
  • Gorilla city by Charlie Small

Reviewed by Brilla

The Selection by Kiera Cass

America Singer is a Five, one of the people who entertains the people who are Ones, Twos, Threes and Fours - a talented singer and musician from a family of singers, musicians, and artists.  Her place in life is to be entertainment, an invisible person who makes the people above her happy with her songs and music.  Her life isn't easy, but with her family working together they have a roof over their heads and usually have enough food for everyone to eat.  America doesn't have many secrets from her family, but the one she keeps is the biggest of them all - she is in love with a Six and dreams of one day marrying him.  Aspen is the Six who has held Americas heart for the last two years, the secret she has kept from her family.  If she marries him she too will become a Six, a sacrifice she is willing to make, but with her mothers ambitions that may not be possible. 

When the Selection is announced, the chance for the young Prince Maxon to choose a bride from the eligible population of young women in the country of Ilea, America enters the ballot to keep peace with her family and to make Aspen happy, but then she is chosen and is whisked away to the Palace - away from her family and away from Aspen.  The Palace is a place of drama, betrayal, and some catty behaviour that leaves America shocked and at times bewildered.  When she comes to the attention of Prince Maxon for all the wrong reasons, America expects to be sent home - what she doesn't expect is a growing closeness to the Prince, a twist of heart that will leave her wondering what she really knows about herself, her family, her country, the reason for the tiers of society, and even her own heart.

The Selection is the first book in a new trilogy that blends together one of the best dystopian novels in recent years with a gentle and subtle romance.  America is an admirable heroine, a young woman who knows her own heart and who is willing to fight for what she believers in - a trait that seems to be missing from a lot of the girls in the story.  She is at odds with almost everyone in the story, her mother, her family, the other girls who are there for the Selection - and she is at odds with Prince Maxon.  The story that unfolds has just the right pace and introduces you to the rest of the cast in a way that feels natural, like you are really seeing events rather than just reading about them, and there are enough subplots to keep it real rather than making it feel like things are happening in isolation from a "real world". 

Dystopian novels are a popular theme and have been for the past couple of years, thanks in no small part to the success of the Hunger games trilogy.  Like the Hunger games, the Selection is set in the remains of the former United States of America and at one point you get an interesting little history lesson about how the country came to be - or do you?  There is a dangerous element to the story, rebels who attack the Palace on a regular basis, attacks that continue during Americas stay at the Palace.  What is really going on, and will we ever find out the whole story?

If you like this book then try:
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • The Hunger games by Suzanne Collins
  • Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
  • Crossed by Ally Condie
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, July 6, 2012

Before the dawn by Max Allan Collins

Max is the product of project Manticore, a transgenic child who has the "advantage" of cat DNA spliced to her own, and she has benefited from the tender loving care of project Manticore who are training Max and her siblings to be the perfect soldier - until the night some of them escape.  On the run from the only home she has ever known, Max tries to slip into a normal life but it is not easy to hide from who she is and what she can do.  After years on the run she has finally found a family of sorts with the Chinese Clan, but when she has the chance to track down one of her siblings from Manticore Max leaps at the chance and travels cross country to Seattle to try and track him down.  But things are not necessarily what they appear, and the danger Max has been hiding from for the past ten years is about to come knocking on her door.

Before the dawn is a prequel for the TV series Dark Angel which was created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee, and while it has been about ten years since the show was on the air (and this book was written in 2002) this is the first time I have gotten my hands on a copy and I am glad I did.  The back story for Max was only caught in glimpses through the show, and it was helpful to fill in some of the blanks - like how Max met Original Cindy, why Logan was the way he was with Max and how he knew so much about Manticore, and the reason why Max doesn't touch guns when she is working.  It has been some years since I watched the show, but the characters rang true and it was nice to catch up with the characters and learn about their pasts.

There are two books which are set after the last episode of the series - Skin game and After the dark - both of which are on my reading list to check out next.  Dark Angel was a great series and it was such a shame that they took it off the air after only two seasons, and Before the dawn helped with a Dark Angel fix and I am all inspired to watch the series on DVD again.

If you like this book then try:
  • Dark Angel: Skin game by Max Allan Collins
  • Dark Angel: After the dark by Max Allan Collins
  • Supernatural: Heart of the dragon by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Supernatural: Night terror by John Passarella
  • Supernatural: Witch's Canyon by Jeff Marriotte
  • X-Files: Ruins by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Antibodies by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Skin by Ben Mexrich
  • Buffy: Dark congress by Christopher Golden
  • Buffy: Queen of the slayers by Nancy Holder
  • Buffy: Blackout by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dead time by Anne Cassidy

For the past five years Rose has been in the care of her grandmother Anna, first while she attended a small all girls private school, and for the past few months at home with her grandmother while she attends the local college.  She used to live with her mother, but she vanished five years ago along with her partner Brendan, and with their dissappearance Rose's happy family vanished almost overnight as her stepbrother Joshua was sent away to stay with relatives and Rose was sent to Anna.  Now, after five years Rose and Joshua have reconnected, and while Anna is definitely not happy about it, Rose isn't sure what she feels - especially when she finds out that Joshua has set up websites to try and find information about their parents, websites that may finally have found some results.  There is also the confusing feelings Rose has for Joshua - he is her stepbrother and she shouldn't feel that way about him, but in the eyes of the law they are not real step siblings because their parents were never married.

At the same time  Rose finds herself faced with a series of strange and twisted circumstances after she is a witness to the murder of a boy from her local college.  He was harassing her and being a jerk, but she doesn't believe he deserved to die.  Drawn into a web of lies and deceipt, Rose tries to help solve the mystery of Ricky's death, but things are more complicated than she thought - especially when another student at the school is murdered.  Rose is facing pressure from all sides, and despite her resolve to keep to herself and just get through the few years remaining until she can collect her inheritance as quietly as possible, the fates seem to be conspiring against her.  There is more at stake than she knows, and if she is not careful the real killer could get away with cold blooded murder.

Anne Cassidy is a great author who packs a lot of punch with her writing, twisting the story into knots at times just to keep you guessing.  In many respects her stories are very British which made it a little difficult to get sometimes about the scene she was setting - college has a very different meaning to us apparently, but it was not so bad that it jolted me out of the story.  The wealth of information she manages to portray in the story makes it a more enjoyable read, and helps you bury yourself in the details, yet she strikes the right balance of not burying you under the evidence.  This was a enjoyable read and is the first book in a series so hopefully there will be more great reads in the future - particularly relating to Joshue and Rose as they are great characters who have an impressive supporting cast that is just starting to find its feet.

If you like this book then try:
  • Missing Judy by Anne Cassidy
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
  • Forbidden island by Malcolm Rose
  • The death gene by Malcolm Rose
  • Girl, missing by Sophie McKenzie
  • Agent 21 by Chris Ryan

Reviewed by Brilla