Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: October 23rd 2012
Length: 379 pages
Keywords: YA, fey, romance, action, paranormal creatures, Kali, magic
Source: Netgalley

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Summary by Goodreads

Almost every avid YA reader probably knows Julie Kagawa's THE IRON FEY series around Meghan Case, Robin Goodfellow and Prince Ash and their adventures in the fey world. When I turned the last page of THE IRON KNIGHT, I feared that my chance to visit the Nevernever was used up. I can't thank Julie enough for writing another book set in her miraculous fey world.
THE LOST PRINCE  is the first book of this THE IRON FEY spinn-off series called THE CALL OF THE FORGOTTEN. Sounds dangerous and creepy, huh? It is! The creatures who are disturbing the peace in both worlds, fey and human, are another calibre of fey. 

The Forgotten are these scary fey that have long been forgotten, merely an apparition of mist. Now they're coming to reclaim their forms back and threaten the peaceful life of Ethan Chase.
Remember Ethan, baby brother of Meghan's? He's in the leading role of Julie Kagawa's THE LOST PRINCE and I promise you that he's not so babyish anymore. Now, more than ten years have passed and the defenseless kid who was once kidnapped by the fey, has grown strong and handsome. 
The way Ethan tells his story is different from the voice Meghan gave THE IRON FEY series. His language is characterised by rather short sentences and simplicity. 
Expect to see many familiar faces.Yes, I think you know who I mean. It was a great surprise to read more about our friends from THE IRON FEY series and see what's been going on in their lives. 
But the new characters Julie Kagawa introduces to us are fun too meet, too There's the half-breed Todd who drives Ethan crazy in an attempt to be friends with him, Kenzie, the beautiful and clever girl who'll accompany Ethan on his travels and then Ethan's mentor Guro does also play an important supportive role. His relationship to Kenzie provides an opportunity for a subtle and sweet romance between the two leading characters in THE LOST PRINCE that was really to my like.

My only - tiny -  point of criticism is that Ethan's constantly having interior monologues about doing the right thing and how he brought that up every time he as much as looked at Kenzie - very often.

Ethan might be human, always wanting to get rid of the Sight, to never see another feary in his life again. Time and circumstances - the Iron Queen being his sister being one of them- leave him no choice to ignore the fey world though and he's forced the enter it at some point. 
I'm glad he doesn't have to leave unprepared. Ethan has taken lessons in Kali for quite a while and masteres various fighting techniques with swords, sticks and his fists. Such a skillful fighter practically needs to be involved in various life-threatening fights during his travels through the fey world. And the fights never get boring, Julie's storytelling never lacks of action. You'll get detailed descriptions of fighting scenes and info on Kali. 

Bonus material: Questions for discussions and an exclusive excerpt of THE ETERNITY CURE, the second book in her BLOOD OF EDEN series.  

1) of another consuming love story
2) of enjoying Kali lessons
3) of a highly amusing Razor
4) of reestablishing severed family ties
5) of being friends with the tough guy

5/5 *****THE LOST PRINCE - Magically attractive, a world I want to get lost in!

I think I'm as dependent of Julie's Iron Fey world as a fey of the promise they gave. Her books make my day, whole year round! I would've never imagined that I would fell in love with a tiny gremlin. Thank you Julie for so much "bad kitty" fun!

* Don't miss Julie's next book! THE ETERNITY CURE is the second book in the BLOOD OF EDEN series, coming out in April 2013!

* Read an excerpt of THE LOST PRINCE here.

* THE LOST PRINCE book trailer.

* For further information about Julie and her books visit www.juliekagawa.com

* Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for the opportunity to read THE LOST PRINCE!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Books On My Shelf #60

I received five books in the past three weeks. Hopfully they'll help me overcome the reading slump I'm caught in at the moment.

She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott (Bought for Kindle)

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (Bought)
After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross (For Review, OUP)
Waiting for Gonzo by Dave Cousins (For Review, OUP)
Smuggler's Kiss by Marie-Louise Jensen (For Review. Thanks to Oxford University Press!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mini Reviews # 4

Time for another Mini Reviews post. These books all have something in common: strong women. In AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK, exchange student and undercover killer, Gobi kicks one or another gangster's ass. The SHUT OUT girls around Lissa decide to go on a hookup strike until their boys consent to end an old rivalry between the school's soccer and football teams. And in Jennifer Echols LOVE STORY, protagonist Erin decides to move out of her grandmother's mansion and master life on her own, without money or status.

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK displays a pretty crazy night in the life of Perry who just wanted to spend prom night on his own terms. But that's not the night Gobi, the exchange student who is living with his family, has planned. Soon Perry finds out that Gobi isn't who she pretented to be and things get out of control. This night is packed with explosions, wild chasings and personal damage. So much action! 
New York is the setting for the killing mission Gobi is on. Bright, colourful and busy New York. It’s the most hectic - and also very fitting - city Joe Schreiber could have chosen for all the shootings and complots.
But it's not only about the action. Each chapter starts with a sentence like this:

What invention would the world be better off without, and why? (Kalamazoo College) ~ p. 95

Perry is in the process of deciding which college he wants to go to. The struggles to find the right college are a major issue in AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK, so it makes pretty much sense to include this college essay reference.The college questions are answered by a snippet out of Perry and Gobi’s night together. I was always curious what the next chapter would bring. And it could only get more lunatic each time, I had no doubt about that.
It was a fun part to imagine a modest exchange student from Lithuania transforming into that super sexy and lethal femme fatal.  Her sly and very skilled undercover agent persona impressed me. But I found her a bit too maniacal and aggressive in following her goals to develop a stable connection to her character. 
Perry is the unfortunate victim of Gobi's hatred. He has to accompany her on her killing frenzy and be witness to every surreal moment of that night. It's probably the shock of his life, but also a chance for him to stand up for his wishes and become a more confident person.
There was a kind of sexual tension between Perry and Gobi throughout the entire night spent together, in which they get to know the other person’s true self. I would have liked a romance between these two, but there isn’t exactly that much room with all the other things going on.
Events and characters don’t always appear very realistic, but if you are looking for some crazy action, this is your read!

3/5 *** AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK- Insane crashes, terrific shootings and oddities of characters are the specialty of Joe Schreiber.

Joe Schreiber’s writing is easy to consume and entertaining as well. AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK is a story of exceptional events. It misses the desired depth and European romance chic though.

Publisher:Houghton Mifflin
Publishing Date: October 25th 2011
Length: 190 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, action, crazy night, college applications, exchange student
Source:Book Fair

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Lissa is furious and feels neglected by her boyfriend. An old school rivalry between soccer and football team seems to eat up more and more time that could've been spend on their relationship. And for what? Stupid pranks and silly laughs. Now she decides to convince her friends to put their boys on a hookup withdrawal. 
It wasn't hard to dislike Lissa's boyfriend anyways. Sex is a present topic in SHUT OUT, too, and Randy wasn't as patient and understanding of her needs as I hoped. Cash though, the leader of the boy's team, was to my like and ensures various sexy and playful romantic scenes. 
Sports make up a dominant part of SHUT OUT. Sport is war. The competition that ideally only exists on the playing field, has transferred to school routine. And Kody definitely did a good job making it an ever present element in the story.
The whole concept of SHUT OUT is partly based on an ancient Greek myth of great war and great ingenuity. So witty of Kody to include it in her new novel. I hadn't known about it before and was delighted to add it to my stock of knowledge. 
SHOUT OUT is yet another story by Kody about girl power. And I am very into that female unity and feeling of integrity she communicates.
In the end Lissa and her friends are rewarded for their persistence in the war of sexes. SHUT OUT is about learning how to listen to your inner voice and stand up for your own believes. 
Set in high school, Kody Keplinger addresses all the turbulent events and dazzling emotions every teenager could encounter at some point during this important time. I have a feeling that she knows exactly what young readers want to read about. Her writing is funny and quirky, which makes it an easy task to read through her books in only a few hours.

4/5 **** SHUT OUT - A kickass read with girl power, sizzling chemistry and a battle of the sexes!

Kody Keplinger belongs to my favourite YA contemporary authors. She has the talent to write books that all carry a certain feel-good vibe. Just like her previous novel, THE DUFF, SHUT OUT is a lot of fun yet deals with contentious issues.

Publisher: Poppy
Publishing Date: September 5th 2011
Length: 273 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary romance, sport, sex, love
Source: Bought

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

I've read ENDLESS SUMMER by Jennifer Echols and couldn't stop reading, because it was that good! I'm on my way to enlarge my fundus of read Jennifer Echols books and I didn't want to miss out on LOVE STORY. In the end, I had to admit that it wasn't what I'd expected it to be. I ended up with a rather dull reading experience, no super sweet romance ecstasy known as a coercive side effect of a Jennifer Echols novel.
Protagonist Erin grew up on a horse farm living with her rich grandmother. Now she no longer wants to be everybody's darling or controlled by her grandmother, and therefore moves to New York City to face real life on her own. She learns that she has to work hard in order to secure her subsistence. Sometimes Erin has an annoying way to complain about her great loss of her old priviledged life. But I like that she's tough and, besides all the lamenting, still fights for her dreams to come true. She learns how to be independent and make new friends.
I was really into her dream to live in New York and study to become future writer. What reader doesn't love that idea?! The story's set on campus and we follow Erin on her daily routine between college and her job.Writing class was a place that felt good, although there was always a certain tension between the participants that felt a bit enervating.
Of course there's a boy. Wesley, a boy Erin knows all too well. A boy from her past at the horse farm, her stable boy. And Wesley appears definitely with his own motives in mind. Wesley was an ok love interest, but not someone who threw me off my feet with his overwhelmingly charming personality and handsomeness.
Now with the prospect of creative story writing, and Erin & Wesley's stories relating in some way to each other and to their past, I expected super hot stories and  flirtarious writing sessions. In the end the stories they wrote for class, actually bored me. No need to include them in LOVE STORY. There were hints at erotic aspects in their stories, but they appeared more shallow than anything hot and serious. I just didn't feel the chemistry.

2,5/5 **/* LOVE STORY -  A promised writing fantasy with sizzling tension between Erin and Wesley... which totally left me cold.

If you want to discover the Jennifer Echols bookish universe, I would recommend to start with another book of hers. If you've read every of Jennifer's books and can't stop to extend your collection, you should probably get it. But if you are looking for an exceptional contemporary romance, look elsewhere.

Publisher: MTV Books
Publishing Date: July 19th 2011
Length: 243 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary romance, college, writing class, slightly erotic, horses
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mini Reviews # 3

Today's Mini Reviews post is dedicated to three sequels, which are all the second book in a trilogy. These books are VANISH by Sophie Jordan, the second book in the FIRELIGHT series and the draki saga around Jacinda and Will. Then there is HALLOWED by Cynthia Hand, who wrote the UNEARTHLY series. And we've got WOLFSBANE, a NIGHTSHADE novel by Andrea Cremer. You see, this post is full of paranormal creatures: drakis, humans with a dragon-like appearance, angels and shapeshifters or wolves.

Vanish (Firelight #2) by Sophie Jordan

Jacinda fell in love with the human Will and disclosed her biggest secret - of being a draki - in the first FIRELIGHT book. It didn't end well and Jacinda and her family had to return to the pride they had once escaped. Now, the second part of her story offers a deeper insight into the tribe culture of the draki pride. We see how the system of power and social acceptance in the group work as a mechanism of control, even over Jacinda's personal life. Her people - who would do everything to stay hidden in the mountains and protect their group - put high pressure on Jacinda's relationship with Will and try to keep the young lovers apart.
While being back in the pride, she has to adept to her old life again and try to mend all the broken bonds of friendship and family she had left behind. We learn more about several pride members like Cassian's cousin Corbin and his sister Miram, who didn’t exactly make an impression on me with their friendliness. Tamra, Jacinda’s sister plays and important role, too.
Some sequences felt rather sluggish, whereas scenes featuring Will managed to at least satisfy me in some way. He is definitely my favourite character in VANISH, because he is most likely and convinces with his steady character and strong believes.
It were Jacinda's feelings and struggles that didn't quite convince me though. In FIRELIGHT I’d felt more connected to her as our protagonist. In VANISH she’s got to choose between Will and Cassian and between staying in the pride or escaping to the human world. 

3/5 *** VANISH - Kisses here, struggles there and only slightly convincing. 

Most of the story is set in the boundaries of the pride and constantly circles around Jacinda’s previous decision so that VANISH felt kind monotonous after a few chapters. The writing was good, but the story didn’t completely suck me in.

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: September 6th 2011 
Length: 294 pages
Keywords: YA, draki, romance, action, tribe culture, hunters, love triangle  
Source: Netgalley

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand

In UNEARTHLY Clara  found out about her heritage as an angel, how to use her newfound powers and the influence being an angel on her family and personal life.Where UNEARTHLY was delightfully funny, this second book in the series begins with a pensive and depressing undertone right from the start. Only a few pages into the story and tears started escaping my eyes. Clara kept having visions about a funeral with one significant character missing among the attendants. She desperately tries to find out whose death she's indirectly foreseeing and these uneasy feelings are easly spreading to the reader. Problems start piling up and misery and trouble are bound to occur.
There is also a black wing - the name doesn't suggest anything positive, does it? - waiting for Clara and her family. Clara has to figure out her destiny, while not imperiling her loved ones. 
In this part of the story we and Clara learn more about the nature of angels, prophecies and customs which make up an interesting and informative part of the novel. Be prepared for a lot of heavenly power! We follow Clara's family and friends, but are also introduced to old friends and important persons of the past who come back to be a part of the Gardener family’s life again.
Team Christian or Team Tucker? That’s the essential romantic debate in HALLOWED. Although Clara loves Tucker, her connection to Christian is as strong as never before. I cheered for Tucker all the time and he fought for Clara, but there is only so much he can take. I looove Tucker! He is no angel, but no less heavenly! 

4/5 **** HALLOWED- The heavely torn sequel to UNEARTHLY, with a major romantic choice and a great loss that has to be endured!

HALLOWED is a sequel that doesn’t disappoint. From page one moving and so sad. I didn’t want it to end, even though I knew what was coming and inevitable. This series is one of my favourite angel book series. The overall writing is casual and filled with all kinds of natural emotions that show even angels aren’t free from worldly and human concerns.

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: January 17th 2012
Length: 403 pages
Keywords: YA, angels, romance, action, loss, love triangle  
Source: Netgalley

Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) by Andrea Cremer

What an unbearable ending Andrea Cremer left us with NIGHTSHADE! Calla has been taken by the enemies and the last thing that's on her mind before she blacks out, is finding her way back to her pack and her love Shay.
In this sequel, Calla wakes in a whole new setting, which she and I needed quite some time to adjust to. She isn't in good old Vail - with her pack - anymore, but with the Searchers, her supposed enemies. 
I’m very thankful that Andrea Cremer included flashbacks to past events. They were very much needed to refresh my memory. Andrea's writing is just as brilliant as in her debut novel.
There is a lot to learn about the Nightshade universe, Keepers, Searchers and Guardians. So many facts that made the first half of WOLFSBANE rather slow to read. But it was followed by a bombastic second half.
It felt right that Calla wasn't alone with the Searchers. Giving her Shay as companion was a nice way to cultivate their relationship and add further experiences and trials. Ren was a constant, too…at missing, unfortunately. I am Team Ren supporter and felt sorry for the way his part of the story played out.
 WOLFSBANE was a novel that worked for me, relationship-wise. Andrea Cremer put together couples that I really cared about. 
 There’s much talking in WOLFSBANE, about the Keepers, Searchers, Guardians, their secrets, magic and different worlds. The new charaters are ace. My favourites were Adne and Connor, who were just so entertaining.  
Then there’s still Shay’s secret to unravel, just like many other incidents of the past. But what is the Scion supposed to do and which role does Calla play in all of it?

4,5/5 ****/* WOLFSBANE - Impulsive and explosive, just like protagonist Calla! 

Two emotional universes, the best couples ever and a kick-ass finale. This novel often felt like the last in a series. I can’t believe the grand finale is still coming in BLOODROSE. I loved how Andrea Cremer pictured Calla’s human and wolfish emotions and reactions, which were really enjoyable thanks to the dual perspectives. 

Publisher: Philomel
Publishing Date: July 26th 2011
Length: 390 pages
Keywords: YA, romance, fantasy, action, wolves, shape shifting, love triangle  
Source: Bought