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Genre: Urban Fantasy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mini Review: Half Lies by Sally Green

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Mini Review: Half Lies by Sally GreenHalf Lies by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad,
Also in this series: Half Bad, Half Wild
Published by Viking Juvenile on 13 November 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Paranormal, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Urban Fantasy, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Pages: 72
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Half Bad, Half Wild

Place(s) Traveled To: Bradenton, Florida // Tampa, Florida

First Line(s): We’ve been in the USA for five days now.

Half Lies by Sally Green is a short novella that takes place before Nathan meets Gabriel in Half Bad (my review). The novella is told in epistolary format from Michele, the sister of Gabriel, and is set in Florida where the family lived for a time. Its a sweet and heart breaking story that just makes you love Gabriel even more. In Half Bad you know that Gabriel has had a rough life and in Half Lies you learn a little of his origins and also how he became stuck.

Half Lies is a quick read and for a novella there is a lot of depth to it. There is so much story contained within its 72 pages and it will make your heart ache. Michele is a wonderful character and I loved reading her journal. This is a great introduction to the character of Gabriel and I am so glad that I read it before reading Half Wild (my review) as I feel like I understand him a bit more now. It was beautifully written and the voice so different and yet similar to that of the main books in the series. A must read for fans of the Half Bad Trilogy.

 irishdarkblue

 Half Lies Quote

three-stars
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Half Wild by Sally Green

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Half Wild by Sally GreenHalf Wild by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad, Book 2
Also in this series: Half Bad, Half Lies
Published by Viking Juvenile on 24 March 2015
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Magic, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Half Bad, Half Lies

Place(s) Traveled To: Verdon, France // Unnamed, France // Black Forest, Germany // Veltarlin, Norway // Unnamed, Slovakia // Barecelona, Spain // Etxalar, Spain // Basle, Switzerland // Geneva, Switzerland // Unnamed Wales

First Line(s): a crossbill calls

I read Half Bad by Sally Green last year and it was an unexpected good read. It was a book that I didn’t know much about and one that I instantly connected with. When I finished Half Bad, I immediately wanted to dive into the sequel and that is exactly what I did when I received an ARC for review. I did have more expectations for Half Wild than I did with Half Bad and there were some things that I really liked with this book and others that I didn’t care for as much. As with the first book I read Half Wild pretty quickly. Its a fun read and I just love this world but there is a lot about this story that makes it very much a transition novel as when I look back on it not a ton actually happens.

There is a lot of running around in this story as Nathan searches for Annalise and while I did like Annalise in the first book I just didn’t get her draw in this one. Especially with some of the things that happened with Gabriel. Because WOW that was some amazing story development and to be honest those were some of my favorite moments in the book. I get Nathan’s nostalgia for his past and his childhood and how Annalise was one of his bright moments in an otherwise bleak life but I really did not like her. And her inclusion in the story and Nathan’s subsequent treatment of Gabriel really took me out of the story.

Half Wild Quote

Another, aspect of the story that I really liked was getting to know Nathan’s father more. I enjoyed those scenes and found them important to the development of Nathan’s character. However, there could have been more depth to them and it just seemed as though Marcus was underutilized as a character. There was so much potential in Half Wild but it just seemed to miss the mark every time an arrow was shot at the target.

Despite that though I am hopeful for how this series will end as most second books in a series are just filler material for the big climax at the end. Although I do have some concerns with what the big climactic moment of Half Lost might be as the focus of this story seemed to veer away from Black Witches vs. White into something else over the course of this book. I do think that Half Wild is worth the read just for the Nathan and Gabriel scenes alone but the rest of it? Well, the rest of the story I could probably do without.

irishdarkblue

 IR - Half Wild

Add Storm Front by Jim Butcher to Goodreads.

Add Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

three-half-stars
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Half Bad by Sally GreenHalf Bad by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad,
Also in this series: Half Wild, Half Lies
Published by Viking Juvenile on 04 March 2014
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Witches & Wizards
Pages: 394
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Half Wild, Half Lies

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Liverpool, England // Cambridge, England // Geneva, Switzerland // Unnamed places in England, Scotland and Wales

First Line(s): There’s these two kids, boys, sitting close togehter, squished in by the big arms of an old chair.

I wasn’t sure about Half Bad by Sally Green when I first started it and even less sure when it opened in the second person. I’m not a fan of second person narration because whenever the text might say “You would do x” I’m always like…no, no I wouldn’t. Thankfully though the bulk of the book isn’t told this way and that makes when it is told in second person a bit more haunting and real. I’m really glad that I didn’t put Half Bad down when I first saw the second person narration because once Green moved past that I became totally engrossed in this story. I loved how Green wove in the rich history of this hidden magical world without long boring info dumps. In some ways, Half Bad, reminded me of Harry Potter, but a darker story and one where those who are labeled as good may not be as good as you think.

Half Bad is the story of Nathan who is a mixed breed witch. That is his mother is a white witch and his father is a black witch and as the two races don’t exactly get along this isn’t a common thing and people don’t know how to react. So people do what they do best when they fear the unknown. They judge actions before they can be done and they place sanctions and restrictions to further curb any potential wrong doing. In Nathan’s world its guilty until proven innocent and its near on impossible to prove ones innocence.

Half Bad is  a fast story and I whipped through the pages which isn’t normally a surprise with me when I love a book. But when I read this I was acting as Primary Minion to the Pig-Tailed Overlord (aka my 4 year old niece) and she wore me out! But I always found time to read this one because I needed to know how it ended. I needed to know how Nathan ended up in a cage and most importantly I needed to know if he escaped. Half Bad kept me on the edge of my seat as it moved from the past to the present and my heart broke over and over for all the Nathan experienced. And yet through out it all Nathan kept his humanity and his soul when it would have been so easy to just give up.

Half Bad has a lot of potential discussion elements to it about just how far humans can go and the power of big brother and the laws they create. How easy it is to give up something small, a little at a time, before realized that all those small things add up to something bigger and scarier than you imagined. Green is a talented story teller and weaves in the big issues that make you think all while not seeming like she’s educating you at all. My main issue with the story is that it took too long for certain things to happen so that when they did it felt rushed and left me a bit unsatisfied. I get that there was a lot of ground to cover with the world building but wish that the story was a little longer to flesh out certain details. Overall though, I really enjoyed this one and am eagerly awaiting its sequel, Half Wild, which is expected to be released in early 2015.

irishdarkblue
four-stars
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Audio Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Audio Review: White Cat by Holly BlackWhite Cat by Holly Black
Narrator: Jesse Eisenberg
Series: Curse Workers,
Also in this series: Red Glove, Black Heart
Published by Listening Library on 11 May 2010
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 41 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Red Glove, Black Heart

Place(s): Traveled To: Princeton, New Jersey // Trenton, New Jersey // Atlantic City, New Jersey // Carney, New Jersey

First Line(s): I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down. I suck in a breath of icy air.

White Cat by Holly Black is a book that two of my friends had been bullying me to read. These were the same friends who bullied me to read Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon series (which is super fabulous and you should read it if you haven’t.) As time can be short I downloaded the audio and I have to say that I fell in love with Jesse Eisenberg’s narration. He is the perfect voice for Cassel Sharpe and with bringing the prose of Black’s words to life. Black has a real gift with language and telling a story and when you read the written word sometimes that beauty can be lost. But when you listen to a story you are forced to slow down and pay attention and White Cat is worth taking that time on.

With the first novel in a series, especially an urban fantasy, there is a lot of world building and background to be given out. Black does a good job in weaving in the history of the world and with the magic of being a curse worker without bogging down the story. Much of White Cat is in dealing with a basic mystery, just what did Cassel do three years prior and why are his nightmares so different than his waking memories. As Cassel investigates, using the various skills he’s learned growing up from his con artist family he uncovers a nest of secrets and lies and what he uncovers isn’t what he expects.

White Cat starts off a little slow but by the end of the story you are on the end of your seat. Cassel’s struggles with his desire to be normal when his family is anything but will resonate with many readers as we all struggle with something. The magic of this world, the curses that some people are affected with are fascinating. As is the stigma that goes along with them. Its a world that the reader can clearly see existing and its easy to see how it came about. How those with curses are almost shunned and so they have little choice but to work for mob families.

Cassel’s narration of the story is filled with much wit and sarcasm but its also filled with intelligence. Cassel is a force to be reckoned with especially as he’s often underestimated by those around him as he’s the only one in a family of curse workers without a curse of his own. Its fun to watch as Cassel manipulates those around him into doing what he wants. Although he does have a bad habit of not knowing when not to lie and manipulate. Cassel with lie to anyone and its hard for him to trust people, even those that he calls a friend. He’s grown up in a family of liars so it can be hard for him to know the boundaries so White Cat is not just a mystery its also Cassel’s personal journey of learning to trust people are him.

White Cat was a fabulous read and I when I finished it I immediately downloaded the audios for Red Glove and Black Heart. The Curse Workers series is one of intrigue and was a fascinating audio to listen to. I love this world and all of its characters all of who are flawed in one way or another. I enjoyed Black’s story and writing and this is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to others. I’m glad that I was bullied into reading it. So if you haven’t started this series yet, what are you waiting for?

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Audio Review: Ash Mistry and the City of Death by Sarwat Chadda

Posted by Irish in Audiobook, Middle Grade, Review1 Comment

Audio Review: Ash Mistry and the City of Death by Sarwat ChaddaAsh Mistry and the City of Death by Sarwat Chadda
Narrator: Bruce Mann
Series: Ash Mistry Chronicles, Book 2
Also in this series: Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress
Published by Listening Library on 29 October 2013
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery & Detective, Urban Fantasy
Length: 10 hours 23 mintues
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also by this author: Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Calcutta, India // Lanka, India (Fictional)

First Line(s): “I can’t do it,” said Ash. He’d beaten a demon king. He’d faced an immortal sorcerer. He’d saved the world. He shouldn’t be scared of anything. But fear now grabbed his chest with icy fingers. “It’s suicide.”

Ash Mistry and the City of Death by Sarwat Chadda is the second book in his middle series the Ash Mistry Chronicles. This is a series that is perfect for all Percy Jackson fans and those that just love edge of your seat action. I found the Ash Mistry Chronicles to be better written and more exciting than the Percy Jackson books. The Indian mythology is fascinating and I loved learning more about it. Though there were times when the things that Ash said or did were a bit cringe-worthy. But he is just a teenager and human and as such is prone to making some bad life choices. What is important is that he eventually learns from this bad choices and finds the right path to take.

There is so much to love in this book and I found myself wanting to listen to it every chance I could just to see what would happen next. How would Ash and Pavrati manage to overcome this newest obstacle. What stupid decision would Ash make next and how would he deal with the consequences. Because there are always consequences and that is what I love about a Sarwat Chadda book. Things happen, there is a cause and effect and the characters must deal with the fall out…for good or bad.

Another thing that I loved with this story was the appearance of Elaine. If you’ve read Chadda’s Young Adult series then you’d know her from her role in those books. I loved this cross over and how the two worlds are both the same and different and it just adds a whole new level of awesome to it all. The only that would make it better is if Billi SanGreal had made a cameo of some sort. But then I mentioned that in my review of Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress and I am sure that it will be something that I will continue to wish for long after this series is over.

The only drawback on this one for me was the narrator, Bruce Mann. I remember enjoying his style in Savage Fortress but this time around there was just something so slow and stilted about it all. It often reminded me of William Shatner back in his 1960s Star Trek days where it seemed to take him 20 minutes to say something that most normal people would spit out in 5. When I tried to speed up the narration it just sounded a bit tinny and cartoonish and so I was forced to deal with the overly slow speaking style.

Despite the poor narration style the story was gripping and engaging enough to keep me engrossed in the story. The action is crazy and over the top and I sometimes forgot that I was listening to a middle grade story. But the worst part of this book, the super most horrible thing…was the ending. Oh Em Gee. That ending! What a killer! Such an edge of your seat, totally took me by surprise cliff hanger ending. And yet at the same time it totally made sense and was so perfect for the story. Its the perfect set up for the third, and final book, Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness. Which is oh so cruelly NOT available in the US. Thankfully though the kind folks at Foyles UK were willing to send it across the pond to me. (Oh internet, how I love thee!)

If you are looking for a new read then you should really check out this series. It is just filled with everything you could possibly want in a book and then some. I am not much of a middle grade reader but if more of the age level was written like this I would definitely be a bigger reader. This series just makes me all bouncy with excitement and I want everyone to read it. So much so that I am giving away the first book in December 2013 and you can enter to win it by CLICKING HERE. Now all that’s left for me is to read the final book…and yet at the same time I don’t want to read it as I don’t want it to end.

irishdarkblue

four-half-stars
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Blog Tour Review + Contest: Darker Days by Jus Accardo

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Blog Tour, Contest, Review, Young Adult3 Comments

Blog Tour Review + Contest: Darker Days by Jus AccardoDarker Days by Jus Accardo
Series: The Darker Agency,
Published by Entangled Teen Ember on 19 August 2013
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 335
Format: eARC
Source: Inkslinger PR
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Penance, New York

First Line(s): It was hard to piss off my mom, but I’d managed to do just that – piss her off. Big time.

Darker Days by Jus Accardo is the start of her new series about The Darker Agency and also part of Entangled’s newest imprint Ember Teen. This series is a paranormal mystery/suspense with a wee bit of romance mixed in for fun and is told from the POV of Jessie Darker. Jessie helps her mother run the Darker Agency which is just like your typical PI firm and they track down deadbeat dads and cheating spouses. And if you happen to have a demon possessed pet or a zombie in your pool then they can help you take care of that too.

I’ve been on a bit of a contemporary kick lately and so wasn’t sure how I would like Darker Days but once I started it I couldn’t put it down. The book is told from Jessie’s POV and she is one feisty character filled with all the snark and sass that I love. She’s a strong character and doesn’t need to have any dark and mysterious boy come to her rescue  In fact, she’s more likely to punch said boy in the face if he tried! She isn’t perfect and her life is far from normal but she rises to the occasion when needed and more often than not kicks some serious a$$. 

The mystery contained in this book isn’t all that hard to figure out but Accardo leaves a nice little trail of breadcrumbs which will be helpful for younger readers. Accardo doles out just enough information to leave the reader wanting more and quickly turning the pages to see what new twists and turns happen next. The pacing is realistic and believable and I don’t think I rolled my eyes once at the romance aspect of it either. By necessity, this mystery takes place over five action filled days and in that time Jessie manages to fall for Lukas, who is pure sin. Despite how quickly these two come to care for one another it never had the whiplash, eye-roll inducing insta-love that I dislike so in books. Their relationship may have been fast but it felt like one that developed over a longer period of time and I liked that.

I liked all of the characters and really enjoyed how they all played off of each other. Jessie and her mother are two peas of a pod. And Lukas was able to go toe to toe with Jessie on all points despite being from another time. This aspect of his character also lead to some funny moments as he adjusted to how things are now. I also enjoyed how close and involved that Jessie’s parents were in this story. No, absent or dead parents here and no overly angtsy rebellious teenager acting out either. The Darker’s may not be the most normal family on the block by they are certainly well adjusted.

I did have a couple of quibbles with this story, like the math was off at one point when the characters were talking about the now and the time where this all started (1882). They kept saying that it was 147 years ago which makes it 1866. But that could just be a minor error in the ARC version that I had. The big bad’s motivation was also a bit convoluted and yet seems to lack much in the way of actual substance. So hopefully that will be discussed and developed further as the series progresses.

Overall, Darker Days is a great start to a new series and this book sets up a bit of events that will be coming down the road. But even though not all the plot points are closed out the main mystery of this book is so the reader gets a sense of completion. I really enjoyed this book and am not looking forward to the long wait until the next book in the series. I really liked living in Jessie’s head and I want to know more about her, about her crazy town, her witchy BFF, and what mad cap mystery she’ll find herself in next. If you like a good mystery then this is a series that I can recommend to you. Its also one that I think those who are wary of the paranormal will enjoy as there are zombies and mentions of ghosts and interactions with witches its not an in your face sort of book. Penance is just your average town with a few quirks hidden below the surface.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Audio Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult5 Comments

Audio Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini TaylorDays of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 2
Also in this series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Published by Hachette Audio on 06 November 2012
Genres: Action & Adventure, Angels, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Monsters, Mythology, People & Places, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 15 hours 25 mintues
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Place(s) Traveled to: Prague, Czech Republic // Morocco // Eretz

First Line(s): Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching.

I am dead.

These words come to you from beyond the grave because I have died and Laini Taylor and her newest release, The Days of Blood and Starlight is the cause. Taylor has reached her hand into my heart, my soul and torn them both out. Crushing them into the dirt and dust on the ground and left me an empty vessel.

Now long time readers of my humble blog might recall the love that I had for the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but know this that book doesn’t even hold a candle to this one. The Days of Blood and Starlight is definitely among one of the best books that I have ever had the pleasure to read. Second books in a series always leave me wary as you never know how they will move the story along. Days not only moves the story along but it leaves its predecessor in the dust with how brilliant and amazing it is.

Laini Taylor’s prose combined with Khristine Hvam’s narration is a combination that defies words. I loved Hvam’s narration in Daughter but she brings things to new heights in this book. All of her voices are solid and I’d often find myself forgetting that only one person was reading this book. Hvam’s narration just builds a world around you and it all feels so real. I often found myself finding excuses to be in my car just so I could listen to more of this beautiful book.

Days takes all that we thought we knew in Daughter and expands it and changes it and kept me on the edge of my seat with each new twist. This book put my emotions through a roller coaster ride and it bruised my soul. If you think that Romeo and Juliet have a star crossed love then you haven’t met Akiva and Karou. Those two…I…I have no words to describe all that I feel about this pair.

The story itself is also one that is hard to put into thoughts. Its like nothing I have read before and I have absolutely no clue as to where things might go in the third book. Often I’ll have a hint of how a trilogy will progress but Laini Taylor has such a gift for the surprise that anything can happen. And no matter how this story ends I think I’ll be an emotional wreck and yet extremely satisfied. I loved every word of this story even though there were so many scenes that just tugged at my soul. I love how real it feels and I just love each and every character (even those of so evil ones.)

I love how Days is told from many points of view as it just helps to add so many layers to the story. I love how it broke my heart, mended it, and then broke it all over again. I love how even though there were tears in my eyes that it was filled with hope. Hope is a very powerful thing and I have hope in the events to come that are still untold. But I also dread the day when the third book is released. Because even though its at least a year away I am not ready to let go of this world and these characters. I just want to live in this world forever and I know that this book, this series, will be a favorite of mine for years to come.

five-stars
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