Friday, 20 June 2014

Prince of Wolves

Prince of Wolves

by Quin Loftis

1 out of 5

Jacque Pierce was just an ordinary 17-year-old girl getting ready to start her senior year in high school in Coldspring, Texas. When a mysterious foreign exchange student from Romania moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends, Sally and Jen, don't realize the last two weeks of their summer are going to get a lot more interesting. 

From the moment Jacque sets eyes on Fane she feels an instant connection, a pull like a moth to a flame. Little does she know that the flame she is drawn to is actually a Canis lupis, werewolf, and she just happens to be his mate; the other half of his soul. 

The problem is Fane is not the only wolf in Coldspring, Texas.

Just as Fane and Jacque are getting to know each other, another wolf steps out to try and claim Jacque as his mate. Fane will now have to fight for the right to complete the mating bond, something that is his right by birth but is being denied him by a crazed Alpha. Will the love Fane has for Jacque be enough to give him the strength to defeat his enemy, will Jacque accept that she is Fane's mate and complete the bond between them?

I was immediately sold on this book by the promise of werewolves and thousands of high ratings...

Never judge a book by other people's opinions.
Which obviously means you should ignore what I have to say and go read it for yourself.

The only thing that allowed me to finish this book were the glimmers of humour.  Quinn Loftis has a real skill at snarky, quick-fire humour.  In fact, I wished repeatedly that she had purposefully written a comedy, it would have worked perfectly as something tongue-in-cheek.

Instead, it limped along with everything I find wrong in YA.
Insta-love.  Of course Jacque is in love with Fane, he is like, so totally hot.  He just smoulders and oozes sex-appeal, that her friends almost hyperventilate when he is around.  Oh yeah, and who doesn't want to be able to read each other's thoughts.
Fane is a wolf, so his animal instinct tells him that he has met his mate and one true love, even before they meet (yeah, he notices her watching out of her window when he arrives).  Fane then goes on to be smothering and jealous and possessive over what is his; but that's really adorable, right?
And of course, Fane is the perfect boyfriend; the perfect kisser; the ideal everything - even though he's never had a girlfriend, or any interest in any girl until he met Jacque.

Fane.  He deserves a paragraph to himself.  He is a prince.  He is actual Romanian royalty (albeit of the wolf kind).  Why the hell does he speak like an American teenage girl?  Sure, he is in Coldspring to improve his English; but there is nothing in the way he speaks, the way he thinks, that confirms he is anything other than an "Oh My Gawd" teenager.
Because I was already annoyed by this, I was irritated further by the language.  There was repeated Romanian phrases (I would be disappointed if there weren't), but Loftis' choice to constantly have translations in brackets next to the words broke the flow.

Repetitions... It is a common irritant when books are written from two points of view, that there is bound to be a little overlap when switching between the narrating character.  This book repeats things twice, going over the whole same section of storyline first with Jacque, and then with Fane.
Then Loftis goes one step further, and repeats everything all over again when Jacque has to fill in her best friends Sally and Jen.

Oh yes, I have just remembered the swear word.  Oh dear f@#!ing hell the swear words!  Ok, I understand if you want to make your story safe for younger readers; bravo for wanting to keep it clean.  But keep it completely clean by removing swear words, or replacing them with a soft alternative.  Don't give cheap and nasty censoring.

And finally we get to the story itself.
It feels like a girl's fantasy.  Step one - hot hero, and let's make him royalty.  Step two - he so totally falls in love with the "could be anyone" girl.  Step three - Oh sh!t, we don't have any angst - let's throw in an opposing wolf that wants to claim Jacque, even though we've never heard of him or his pack.

So... the rest of the series is not on my to-read list.

Goodreads link

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Book Release - Valerie Day-Sanchez

Book Release!

Back in February I got to interview the lovely Valerie Day-Sanchez, the writer of Harlow Whittaker & The Soothsayers - an original and vividly-imagined mix of paranormal and normal-normal (hint: go read).

The last four months have flown by, and personally, I wish I could report that I'd won the lottery; qualified for the dressage nationals; and/or met Michael Fassbender (yes please).  Ok, I digress...

Valerie has been much more productive with her time, as she revealed this weekend on her blog, part two has finally been released!  So after months of waiting for the conclusion of "The Soothsayers", which left us on that shocking cliff-hanger where Harlow and- right, no spoilers.

So please welcome Harlow Whittaker & The Apprentice.
Two weeks ago nineteen year old Harlow Whittaker discovered that being able to travel to different worlds, while she slept wasn’t just a weird secret that she had hidden since she was a child. In fact it meant that she was extraordinarily special. She was the first human soothsayer, the savior of the worlds. 
After abandoning her world and surviving the treacherous journey to Carnelian Comba, where she was finally united with fellow soothsayers. She has little time to recuperate from her imprisonment by her attacker, because just as she sits at the round table with the council members they realize they are under attack. 
Once again there is no time to waste, in order to survive, Harlow must leave Carnelian Comba. As Harlow begins to discover who she is, as she leads her army, she realizes that seeing the future while she sleeps was only the beginning. 
Unfortunately as her own abilities grow so are those of her enemy, whoever that may be. To make matters even worse, unlike last time Harlow does not have Larken by her side. He has been asked by the Soothsayers Council to discover the identity of their opponent. 
As Larken travels the worlds searching for the person that is responsible for the mutant Shadow Reapers and torture of clones Harlow becomes more in danger. 
Will Harlow be able to master her abilities in time for the impending battle? Will Larken be able to find their mystery attacker? One thing is for sure, life as the worlds’ inhabitants know it is going to be forever changed.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Fire Country

Fire Country

By David Estes

4 out of 5

In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer's even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely. 

Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.

Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with. 

As the desert sands run out on her life's hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.

Siena is drawing closer to her sixteenth birthday, when she will follow the Law of her tribe. She will be assigned her Call, and have to bear children, to make sure the tribe continues to exist in the new, harsh world.

The Heaters do their best in the world they know. Their life expectancy is merely thirty years, with a few - the Greynotes, achieving "old age"; some living until nearly forty!
They have laws that promote existence. There is no individualism, only the strength of the tribe as a whole.
At sixteen, girls are given to their Calls - men of eighteen or older, that may have other wives.

Estes has created a believable world, with a perfect balance between disturbing and realistic codes by which they live.
It follows Siena's story and slowly builds, allowing the reader to feel an innocent girl's frustration and fear at the life ahead of her. Finally growing to the seed of rebellion, to the fact that she has a choice.

The story is told from Siena's point of view; her voice is unusual - it reveals the breakdown of education in her society. The slang and choice of words that are used by everybody - from Siena and the other Younglings, to the older men and women, and even leaders of the tribe - shows something beyond simple regional dialect; it supports the disintegration of formal language and even the thought processes we take for granted. Because if time is not on your side, why would you waste education on reading, writing or science; when the main drive is breeding successfully.

The story is moving as Siena comes to realise that the one guy she would not be afraid of, the one that she wants to be her Call, is her best friend Circ. But that's not allowed, as Circ is only sixteen, and Siena is to be given to someone at least two years older.

The story is fantastic on many levels, the world, the Law. The way it shows a society that thinks nothing of women, save that they bear children. It sticks in your throat and makes you want to fight alongside Siena.

What made it lose a star for me was the predictability. By the end of the first chapter, you knew who had what part to play. ((Spoiler: I felt a little disappointed that Circ was "killed off", then revealed that he was truly alive. It felt a little too cute. Or maybe that's just the hard-hearted bitch coming out again.))
If I read it when I was a teenager, it would have been a straight 5 star, and then some.

But anyways, this is a series I will definitely be continuing with.

Goodreads link