Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Release Day Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

by Veronica Roth

Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian / Science Fiction / Romance

Ages: 14 and up

Sequel to Divergent and Insurgent.


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My Thoughts:

Allegiant is a very powerful book. It pushes limits, breaks hearts and always, always makes you think. It is much more complex than most young adult novels in its challenges of what is logical versus what is right. The characters are infinitely human, neither heroes nor villains, at least not fully.

Tobias reveals vulnerabilities I never would have guessed he had, and yet, they were completely believable and right for his personality and past. I loved that half of the novel was told from his point of view; the darkness and desperation he fights against were so intense it hurt my heart.

Tris' side is less complicated and she doesn't change as much as Four, but her coming to terms with her family, living and dead, strengthened her character in subtle but significant ways. She gains a deeper understanding of things, which in turn gives the reader a deeper understanding of the characters and their motivations.

While I loved so many things in this book, the writing didn't really pop as much as the previous novels, at least not for me and not in the beginning. At first it felt like a lot of exposition as a hundred new things had to be explained all at once. This might have been necessary, but it was also kind of awkward. Towards the middle it gained more intensity and the pace picked up, and by the end I was on the edge of my seat. Crying.

The end was perfect. Heroic and sad and beautiful and unexpected and so very, very brave. Not just on the characters' parts, but on the author's as well. She took a unique path that, upon the arrival of the last page, made the whole trilogy fall perfectly into place. It was an ending that left me recalling earlier scenes with an 'Oh' of revelation that it was all leading to this.

This novel is a worthy addition to any bookshelf.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I give this book a 4.10 for some mild to mid-level swearing.

I rate it a 3.10 for a scene that may or may not have been a fadeaway or just a heavy make-out session, as well as kissing and petting.

I give it a 7.10 for multiple murders and injuries.

                          Lieder Madchen

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor
by Julie Kagawa

Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal / Romance / Faeries

Ages: 13 and up

This is the sixth novel set in the Iron Fey world, the second book in the Call of the Forgotten series. Here are my reviews of The Iron Knight and The Lost Prince.

I received an advance e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

My Thoughts:

Oh. Wow. This book is...Wow. I'm attempting to turn my incoherent sputterings of horror and glee into actual words. I laughed at Razor's antics, I sighed over the doomed romances of Ethan and Kenzie and Keirran and Annwyl, I scolded the characters (out loud, to my chagrin) and by the end I cried. And sputtered. And raged over the long months that that will have to pass before I can read the next book. This book was awesome. Possibly Julie Kagawa's most spectacularly evil novel yet.

Ethan and Kenzie attempt to return to normal life, which doesn't work so well when Kenzie's dad tries to get Ethan arrested for kidnapping. Turns out he doesn't like it when his terminally ill daughter disappears with a boy. I liked that he seems to finally be waking up and noticing Kenzie, even if it makes things that much more difficult for our hero. I also loved how Ethan has to learn how to protect Kenzie without treating her like glass. It's a thin line for someone as instinctively protective as him.

Keirran and Annwyl remind me of young lovers from a Shakespeare play; impulsive, wild-eyed and tragic. They just hurtle from obstacle to obstacle leaving disaster in their wake. Well, I can't really blame Annwyl as she is usually attempting to persuade Keirran to slow down and think before making bad decisions. However, he's the proverbial 'unstoppable force' and nothing slows him for long.

The Nevernever, already one of my favorite fictional worlds, is still practically a character in itself. The band of questers (for this book really is at its core a questing adventure) also take an interesting little side-trip into the Between and the magic-drenched city of New Orleans.

Questions I never thought to ask were answered in this book, like; why don't the Summer and Winter Courts mingle? I always thought it was a matter of politics and dissimilarity of magic, but what of there's a deeper reason? Ms. Kagawa continues to be one of my favorite authors for world-building.

However, she is also spectacularly evil. The ending of this book was so absolutely perfect and heartbreaking and completely, utterly, incontrovertibly mean. How can you do this to your loyal readers??? How can you torture us like this and make us wait who knows how long for the next book???

My only complaint for The Iron Traitor is that it ended. 

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a a 7.10 for three uses of the f-word and some mid-level swearing.

I give it a 2.10 for some brief, vague hinting and some kissing.

I rate it a 6.10 for fighting and murder.

                       Lieder Madchen

Series Review: The Kate Daniels Series (1-6) + Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels Series (1-6) + Gunmetal Magic
by Ilona Andrews

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal / Mystery / Adventure / Romance

Ages: 15 and up

Note: This review contains SPOILERS! I try to avoid them as a rule, but when reviewing multiple books in a series, they are impossible to avoid. The whole review is kind of weird and not in my usual style, but I've never tried to review a series this long in one post before.


The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail.

It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrappers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind. Monsters prowl the ruined streets, werebears and werehyenas stalk their prey; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight.  But sometimes even trained killers make friends and fall in love, and when the universe tries to kick them in the face, they kick back.

My Thoughts:

I recently read this series start to finish, including the spin-off novel Gunmetal Magic and most of the short stories, in under 48 hours. It was a marvelously entertaining 48 hours. Since I read them all together, I thought I would review them the same way. There will be some spoilers, just so you know. And I'll throw in some quotes, just because. :)

First of all, the series in its entirety is amazing. The world is well-developed and interesting, the characters are unique and perfectly written, and the stories are a perfect combination of dark fantasy, hard-edged mystery and humor that left me laughing to the verge of tears. If you like sword-fighting heroics, magical misadventures and an eyebrow-raising courtship, this series will be perfect for you.

Magic Bites introduces us to Kate Daniels, a snarky mercenary with many secrets and a large sword who is setting out on a very personal investigation; the murder of her mentor and friend. A simple set-up, all the better to flesh out the world and all of its wondrous inhabitants. I liked the book from the first page, but it wasn't until Kate knelt down in a dark alley and called 'Here, kitty, kitty, kitty' to the lion shape-shifter Beast Lord that I started cackling in gleeful anticipation for what was to come. I can mark that one sentence as the place where I fell in love with the series.

Magic Burns starts with a bang, or rather, a large fire and a crossbow bolt. The scale of the plot is larger than that of Magic Bites, what with a trouble-making ancient thief in town trying to steal kisses from Kate, among other things, and certain Celtic deities running amok. The tension between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, reaches delightful new heights and Julie, a street-savvy witch's daughter, makes her appearance. So does Raphael, the charming werehyena who takes a liking to Andrea, Kate's best friend. This book was maybe a shade darker than the first, but had just as much fun. Curran has far too much fun teasing. Plus I highly approve of Kate's favorite book.

"I kiss like a madman!"

Magic Strikes begins with a banshee on a telephone pole. I loved how random a start that was. In this book, Kate is called to aid her teenage werewolf sidekick Derek, who has gotten himself into a spot of trouble involving a pretty girl and illegal fighting. Suddenly it seems like half the Pack is keeping secrets from Curran, and Kate is caught right in the middle, and isn't that a fun place to be? Just to complicate things more, mwahaha, Curran's teasing is becoming more serious. I love how the authors have managed to keep the perfect level of sexual tension between Kate and Curran. As someone who hates it when characters fall into bed too quickly, I really appreciate a drawn-out romance. It also has what are, in my opinion, some of the best action scenes of the entire series.

"What happened to barely winning?" 
 "You said sloppy! Look, I didn't even use my sword; I hit him with my head, like a moron."

Magic Bleeds starts with Kate waiting for Curran to show up for their date. And waiting. And waiting. When he stands her up, all heck breaks loose between them and it is oh so wonderful to watch. A battle of words and elaborate pranks is waged as their friends attempt to keep a safe distance while watching the fireworks. The teasing and sparring and tension have all lead to this; will they, or won't they? *chuckles evilly to self* This is my very favorite book of the entire series. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. Even as Kate and Curran duke it out once and for all, someone else is launching their attack on Atlanta. Add Kate's past coming slowly to light and you have a brilliantly chaotic, endlessly entertaining recipe for utter disaster. I loved every word. Plus there's Grendel, the ever-vomiting poodle. And pie. Lots of pie.

"There is catnip all over my bed."
"Catnip? How peculiar. Perhaps you should speak to your head of housekeeping."
"I have to kill you. It's the only reasonable solution."

Magic Slays has Kate trying to get her new magical investigation business off the ground while learning the ropes of being Curran's mate and saving the world at the same time. So, business as usual, yes? She handles everything with her typical aplomb and lack of tact. I love watching her and Curran work out the kinks in their new relationship. The story takes a decidedly dark turn when some of the Pack's kids, including Julie, are attacked. Everyone becomes grim and protective and very, very determined. Despite the fewer laughs, I enjoyed this installment of Kate's adventures just as much as the others.

"You sure you don't need your Prince Charming to come and save you?"
"Sure, do you have one handy?"
"Oh, I think I could scrounge one up somewhere. As often as I have to rescue you..."
"I'm going to kick you in the head when I get home. Repeatedly."

Gunmetal Magic takes us on a side trip into the life of Andrea, Kate's best friend, as she deals with her heartbreak after the ruination of her relationship with Raphael and that fact that she is beastkin, a rare and reviled form of shapeshifter. When Raphael drags a new girlfriend into her office, she goes a little nuts. Which, strangely enough, is just the thing to get them talking again. Watching them argue through their issues while trying to work together was immensely entertaining. Kate and Curran made an appearance, but they kept to the edges of the story for the most part. I loved that one of my favorite mythological beings showed up in a villainous capacity; he made a great bad guy.

"I know it's difficult, since I have a shapely butt and all, but try to focus on our illegal burglary."
"As opposed to legal burglary?"

Magic Rises returns to Kate and Curran, just in time to see them off on their way to Europe and their first truly serious relationship difficulties since they became mates. They've hardly stepped off the boat before Curran appears to have taken up with another woman and Kate's past catches up with her. There aren't nearly as many laughs in this book, but it is the first one in the series to bring me to the verge of tears over the main characters' sheer emotional anguish, which is a different sort of entertainment. Is this the end of Kate and Curran? Will Kate's secrets come fully out in the open? Who will win the truly epic sword-fight two thirds of the way through the book? Since when do weredolphins exist??? *more maniacal laughter* I think the authors were having fun torturing the readers with this book, and I say 'torture' in the best sense of the word.

"What does that mean?"
"Magic turtle crossing."
"I got that one, but what about the second one?"
"Beware the magic turtles."
"They spit fire."

So, there you have it, the series thus far. The books started out lighthearted (well, somewhat) and simple (relatively speaking) but have morphed into more of the darkly humorous (understatement) and complex (not to mention weird; they are definitely getting weirder) as Kate draws inexorably closer to the inevitable battle with her nemesis (that dark secret from her past I mentioned before).

I shall conclude my review thusly: This. Series. Is. Awesome.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a 7.10 for some uses of the f-word as well as mid-level and mild swearing.

The early books get a 3.10 for references and innuendo, books 4-6 plus Gunmetal Magic get 7-8.10 for some mildly descriptive scenes.

All books get an 8.10 for bloody fighting, murder and some torture.

            Lieder Madchen

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Falling for Mr. Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory

http://austenprose.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/falling-for-mr-darcy-by-karalynne-mackrory-2012-x-200.jpgFalling for Mr. Darcy
by KaraLynne Mackrory

Genre: Romance / Pride & Prejudice Re-Imagining / Austenesque / Historical Fiction

Ages: 14 and up

I received a copy of this book, courtesy of Meryton Press, in exchange for a fair and honest review.


The simple truth is proven that sometimes a gentleman never knows his heart until a lady comes along to introduce it to him.

When Mr. Darcy encounters Elizabeth Bennet injured after a fall, his concern for her welfare cracks the shell of his carefully guarded heart, and a charming man emerges. Elizabeth sees an appealing side of him she never believed possible from the stoic, proud master of Pemberley. They find the simple gentlemanly act of assisting her
home will test both Mr. Darcy’s resolve to keep his heart safe and Elizabeth’s conviction that this is the last man on earth she might have ever been prevailed upon to marry. Soon, falling for Mr. Darcy becomes a real possibility.

My Thoughts:

This is one of those delightful books that just makes me smile. I smiled at the awkward small talk between Darcy and Elizabeth even as they internally berated themselves for their attraction to each other. I smiled at the devious matchmaking tricks employed by nearly all of the characters. I laughed out loud at the rampant winking. I found myself to be in a lovely mood for the entire rest of the day, even after I closed the book on the last page. In short, this novel made me happy.

Ms. Mackrory truly did a marvelous job with the characters in this book. Darcy and Elizabeth were perfect (I know they always are, but in this story they shone with particular brightness) with witty banter a-plenty and aww-inspiring romance. Bingley managed to develop a determined streak that was fun to watch and Lady Catherine made a unique and memorable appearance. My favorite, however, had to be Mr. Bennet. There was an original yet completely believable twist to his character, both in what he did and why he did it.

There's a little action to the story, taking the form of Wickham sending threatening messages. How far will he go in his quest to hurt Darcy? I will leave you to discover that for yourself. I liked how his machinations drew out an even more protective side to Darcy.

Falling for Mr. Darcy is sweet and fun and oh-so wonderfully romantic. I highly recommend it as a story to curl up with while enjoying a cup of tea.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain mild spoilers.

I give it a 4.10 for a couple instances of mid-level name calling.

I rate it a 2.10 for some very vague, brief insinuations and an attempt to force a kiss.

I rate it a 3.10 for a couple of scenes of violence, including what my brother would call (with strange and fiendish delight) a near-perfect arm snap (he has very strange ideas).

                                 Lieder Madchen