Category Archives: Paranormal Romance
Book: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead, Penguin Audio, February 12, 2013
Book Info: YA paranormal, Audiobook received for review. Running time: 11 hrs, 53 mins. Read by: Emily Shaffer. Also available in hardcover, 432 pages from Razorbill.
The Indigo Spell audiobook left me feeling all happy and excited. I’ve read a lot of Richelle Mead’s books and it can be a nerve-wracking experience seeing what she puts her characters through. So I braced myself going into this one for a bumpy ride. And don’t get me wrong; there is change in the air in this third installment, with hints at trouble ahead. But there are also light-hearted moments; daring acts of bravery, and a surprising level of hotness in this one that made it really fun. And the ending left me with a smile that makes it hard to move on to another book.
In the third installment of the Bloodlines series, Sydney’s life is at a crossroads. She’s always gone down the straight and narrow path, but now she’s become more questioning of her role as an alchemist. Marcus Finch, the alchemist runaway, gives her another point of view to consider, but is he someone she can trust? Magic also plays an important role for Sydney in matters of life and death. And in the romance department there’s that taboo attraction between her and Adrian to address.
Sydney has become a very endearing character to me. She’s such a different heroine than VA’s Rose, but kick-ass in her own right. I like this new side of her that we meet in The Indigo Spell and seeing her growth as a character overall. Adrian is also rising to the challenge and fast becoming the leading man we always knew he was. Red-hot chemistry between them I tell you!
Richelle Mead sure knows how to weave a story. With such a big cast of characters there is always some drama going on but none of it felt like filler to me. The different plot twists for the Palm Springs crew provide additional insight as well as some comic relief. Mead sets the stage for future story lines and gave me plenty to fret about until the next installment. I just want this Indigo Spell high to last a little while and not think about any consequences yet though.
Other things that are awesome about this book include: cameos from friends old and new, good advice from unlikely sources, arts and crafts with Adrian, magical surprises, nicknames, and dessert.
This is the first time I’ve listened to an audiobook of any of Mead’s books. I have the hardcover on pre-order and am still planning to read that format, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to listen in a little early. Emily Shaffer reads this audiobook and all of the Bloodlines books so far, as well as the last 3 VA books. One thing that’s difficult about listening to an audiobook of a series you know very well in print is that the character voices don’t always line-up with the way you expect them to sound. So at first I was caught off-guard with Sydney’s voice because I had a very different idea of her speaking voice. And is it mentioned in the books that Adrian has a British accent? His accent took me by surprise anyway, and was one of the most distracting parts of the narration for me.
Shaffer reads with intensity and gives it her all with distinct voices for each character. Some of the narration choices took me out of the story at times. But, by about a quarter into the book I got more involved with the plot and the narration didn’t bother me as much. Not sure if Shaffer is the best fit for this series, though since I love the story so much I’m not opposed to giving her another shot with the next book.
Speaking of the next book – how lucky are we that we get TWO Bloodlines books in one year? The next book The Fiery Heart is due out in the fall, and it’s dual POV with Sydney and Adrian. I think this series is really hitting its stride and I can’t wait to see where Mead takes it next. I’m so looking forward to discussing The Indigo Spell more with you, so pick it up on Tuesday and read fast!
Boundless is a book that I’ve been dying to read but at the same time reluctant to read because I didn’t want the Unearthly trilogy to end. On the surface I shouldn’t love this series – it’s about angels, and the ultimate love triangle after all, but love it I do. A lot of the anticipation has to do with who the heroine Clara will choose, Tucker or Christian, in one of the most heart-wrenching love triangles in YA. Beyond that, there is the question of Clara’s purpose and what she chooses to do with her gift. The ending is satisfying and answered many of my questions, while also leaving me craving another story centered on this world.
As the final chapter of the Unearthly series begins, Clara, Angela and Christian transition to college life at Stanford. The three are all having visions they need to decipher, and try to balance school and angel responsibilities. Clara worries about Jeffrey, and is concerned about the Black Wing following her around. Tucker is miles away but still in her thoughts and dreams. Not much else I can say really about the set-up- there are a lot of twists and surprises you’ll have to discover when you read the book. Clara’s journey is emotionally satisfying and included appearances of many of my favorite characters.
Speaking of characters, the author does a great job with keeping an air of mystery around them. She kept me guessing the character motives throughout the series, particularly the angel characters. Are they all good or all bad, or shades of gray like some of the angels’ wings? Clara has to decide who is trust worthy, especially with life or death at stake.
The love triangle, sigh. Cynthia Hand certainly keeps the suspense going! I like both Christian and Tucker and kept an open mind, though I’m ultimately Team Clara and had faith that she’d make the right choice in the end. The epilogue is a nice touch.
The writing is one of my favorite things about this series. I felt an emotional connection to Clara and the other characters and felt invested in the outcome. Obviously this installment is more dramatic as all of the elements come to a head, but there are some smaller touching moments as well.
Cynthia Hand has done a wonderful job with this series, and I’d read anything she chooses to write. Hopefully she will revisit this world with a spin-off or prequel. It felt to me that there are more stories to tell. And Hand’s teasing morsels about the past and future leave me eager for more. My favorite genre is contemporary, and these books do have a lot to offer contemporary fans, even though of course there is a big paranormal element. (Read this amazing interview with Cynthia Hand on The Midnight Garden to see what she’s working on now!) I am sad to see this series end.
I wasn’t ready to let go of this series after Boundless, so I picked up the novella Radiant right after, and that helped to give me more closure. I did feel like I was missing a piece of the puzzle about Angela and Clara’s summer trip to Italy, and that is covered in Radiant.
Radiant is Angela and Clara’s story of their summer trip to visit Angela’s family. I think this is the first time we have heard Angela’s POV, so it’s interesting to get a peek inside her mind and some of her backstory and feelings about Clara and her place in the world. This story also fills in some of the blanks about Angela’s mysterious romantic interest in Italy.
I don’t really like this novella trend, and would prefer that all the pieces were included in the actual novel. But, this novella is better than average and the fact that Angela’s perspective is included is a plus in my book. I think if I had read the novella before reading Boundless I would feel more of an investment in Angela’s situation. Overall, I think Radiant is worth your time and provides additional character insight.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I finished Heartless, and dove right into the last book in the series, Timeless. Don’t you love when that happens? Reading series books back to back is the best. The final book in the Parasol Protectorate series takes place a couple years after the last installment with our heroine Alexia facing several exciting challenges. Alexia is living in Lord Akeldama’s closet, and the werewolves also have a new residence. She’s adjusting to life with a uniquely talented toddler, and along comes a summons from the vampire Queen of Alexandria.
The series conclusion wraps up some of the loose ends, but some of the storylines are teasingly left open. There are juicy twists and reveals, plenty of humor and trademark Alexia-ism’s, though it’s also bittersweet at times. I’m glad there will be not one, but two spinoffs to keep the series alive.
The setting jumps from Egypt to London and there are some big developments happening in both locales. I preferred sticking with Alexia, her family and the Tunstells brood in Egypt, but it was also interesting learning more about Biffy and the goings on back in London. Sometimes the switch between locations would get a little tiresome as I got hooked on a particular storyline but I was never bored.
You never know how it’s going to work when a child is added into the mix of a series, but Prudence was a breath of fresh air. Her scenes were standouts in terms of comic relief and her charming way always brightened the mood. Her precociousness allowed her to be involved in the plot as well.
I started getting nervous midway through about the direction of the book and was thinking Carriger was really making some bold choices for her characters. There are some surprise pairings and turns of events that really kept me on my toes.
I again listened to the audiobook version, and Emily Gray is still wonderful. Her pacing is just right and consistent throughout. There are some emotional highs and lows in this book and she conveys the appropriate tone to set the mood. There are a lot of adventures with Biffy in this book and the narration made his story even more intriguing. Also, Gray does very well with the voice of Prudence- a tricky thing to bring a terrible two to life convincingly. But her calls of “No”, “Dama”, and “Mama” were cute and fun. The setting and time frame come to life with Gray’s narration. I’ve read three of the books, and listened to two of the audiobooks and both formats are great, though Gray gives the story something extra that makes the experience more enjoyable overall.
The Parasol Protectorate series is a treat, and I loved reading all the books and following Alexia’s adventures. Thankfully I don’t have to be too sad that it’s over because Gail Carriger has two more series in the works. I can’t wait to read the YA spinoff prequel in early 2013 entitled Etiquette and Espionage, and Prudence’s Parasol Protectorate Abroad series to follow later in the year.
- Gail Carriger – Timeless (fyreflybooks.wordpress.com)
- Waiting on Wednesday: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1), by Gail Carriger (readinginwinter.com)
- BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #40-43: Changeless, Blameless, Heartless and Timeless by Gail Carriger (cannonballread4.wordpress.com)
- Soulless the Manga by Gail Carriger and REM (biggirlbooks.net)
Audiobook Info: Audiobook purchased at Audible.com, Audio length: 11 hours 19 minutes, read by Emily Gray.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
It’s been almost two years since I last read a book in the Parasol Protectorate series. Seeing Gail Carriger at Comic-Con reminded me that I needed to catch up on the books, especially now that the series is complete. This is the first book of the series I’ve listened to in audio format. A risky proposition for book four when you already have a feel for how the characters should sound. But Emily Gray is a truly marvelous narrator and brought the parasol protectorate world alive. Heartless is as witty and surprising as I’ve come to expect from this author and delivers some surprising twists to set up the last book in the series.
In this latest installment of Carriger’s steampunk series, Alexia and Conall are reunited and preparing for their new addition. But it’s not all hearts and flowers for those two- someone is trying to kill Queen Victoria after all, and Alexia is on the case. Along the way, Alexia makes some personal discoveries and uncovers secrets about her close associates. I’m glad I waited to read this book until I had the last book in the series on hand because this book made me eager to keep reading.
I like the mystery of this series, the charm, and the setting, but the characters are I think my favorite part. They are so exaggerated and make the books so much fun to read. And even in book four we find out some unexpected tidbits about familiar characters. Ivy and Lord Akeldama are in fine form in Heartless as usual, and Biffy also becomes a more central character. I was pleased to find out the origin of the “Parasol Protectorate” in this one and I liked the way the amusing way the secret unfolded.
Emily Gray reads the audiobook and deftly handles all of the different characters and accents. Listening to the books is really a treat and made me wish I’d listened to the whole series. Gray has a great grasp on the characters and captures all the right nuances. The voices are distinct and consistent and she reads with a brisk, even pace. Lord Akeldama and Ivy sound just how I’d imagined, and I also enjoyed her no-nonsense Alexia as well as all the other characters.
After listening to Heartless, I immediately moved on to the last book in the series, Timeless. They go together hand in hand almost like a two-part finale. I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy or steampunk but for some reason I can’t resist this fun series. I especially recommend the audiobooks if you are so inclined.
Audiobook Info: Fantasy, Purchased at Audible.com, Audio length: 24 hours 2 minutes, read by Jennifer Ikeda.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
I am late to the Discovery of Witches party. And frankly, the idea of a 24-hour audiobook was very intimidating. But with the’ sequel in hand, I knew I’d better catch up with the series, because I had a feeling I would be too lost if I skipped it. Jennifer Ikeda’s narration made the time fly by and I soon found myself lost in the world of witches, vampires, demons, and a mysterious lost manuscript. The over-protective vampire romance is familiar, but the historical details and setting kept me intrigued.
Diana Bishop is a dormant witch and a scholar doing some research at Oxford’s Bodelein library. She comes across a valuable manuscript in her research and after she finds it she becomes a demon magnet. Even though she no longer has the manuscript in her possession, paranormal creatures stalk her in hopes that she will re-obtain the manuscript and break its spell. One such creature is vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and he’s taken more than a passing interest in Diana, and wants to protect her.
Though Diana has lived her life without using her witch powers, it seems they are ready to be unleashed now. If only she could control them and believe in herself. Matthew is more than happy to look after her, even though their relationship breaks all kinds of rules in their world and puts them both in danger. Matthew plays the controlling, handsome, brilliant, rich vampire role to perfection and is determined to stay by Diana’s side. He wines and dines Diana and takes her to a supernatural yoga class, and she’s smitten in no time. If you are a fan of vampire romances, this is the book for you.
The story changes setting a couple of times, letting us get a glimpse into Matthew and Diana’s background. I liked the Paris chapters with Matthew’s mother who provides insight into Matthew’s character. But things really got going later at the Bishop House in New York, with Diana’s aunts. The house is a really cool character all in itself, and kind of reminded me of the Glass House in Morganville, but to the extreme. We meet a lot of characters over the course of the story, and the house gets very crowded quickly, though that problem is solved in a clever way.
It wasn’t hard to keep track of the large cast of characters because Jennifer Ikeda’s (Gilt) narration and well-done accents helped me keep everyone straight. She has a pleasant voice to listen to over many many hours, and I liked her interpretation of the characters. Like the book, Ikeda reads at a leisurely pace, and I did end up speeding things up a bit with the Audible app. It wasn’t a frustration I had with the narration, but more with the pacing of the book. In the end I think Ikeda made the story more interesting, and I highly recommend the audio.
This book is a good YA/Adult crossover book, especially for fans of paranormal romance and character driven books. Keep in mind this is the first book in a series so don’t expect everything to be wrapped up in this installment. The sequel, Shadow of Night, is out now and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Book Info: YA paranormal, Purchased HC from Amazon, 418 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
With the second book in the Bloodlines series, Richelle Mead hits her stride and delivers an addictive read. Though I liked Bloodlines a lot, I thought it lacked a little of Vampire Academy’s charm. But just like the VA series improved as it went along, so does this series. Maybe it’s because this installment seems more fun and well rounded, or Sydney has grown on me more, but all the elements worked this time around.
In The Golden Lily, Sydney is working undercover again to protect Moroi Princess Jill Dragomir at a boarding school in Palm Springs. (Of all the places for a group of vampires to live!) Jill is in danger from those who want to see her sister Queen Lissa de-throned. Alchemist Sydney continues to work with the vampires to provide support on their mission. Adrian, Eddie, Dimitri and Sonya are back too and have their own intriguing side stories.
I found Sydney more endearing this time around, more human I guess. All of her quirks are growing on me. She’s uptight and uncomfortable in social situations, but she does have heart and she’s evolving in her way. I like that she’s starting to question her loyalties a little bit. Overall she’s easier to warm up to in this book. She gets set up on a date with a guy who is perfect for her in every way, studious and serious, likes to wear neutrals, etc. He’s so bland that no one can remember his name, and come to think of it neither can I! (Okay, it’s Brayden) Sydney also has some great bonding scenes with Adrian and her feelings for him are complicated due to her loyalties with the alchemists, but I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop.
There are a few different stories swirling around for Sydney and the vampires. Sydney is still working on learning magic, and there is still the mystery of what makes her special among the alchemists. There are also some humorous scenes where she and Adrian take a self-defense class. I don’t know why that scene made me laugh, but I just love Mead’s sense of humor and how she set up that scene.
The interactions at the boarding school are the only weak links for me. Jill hasn’t made a great impression on me yet. Though she does serve an interesting purpose with her spirit bond to Adrian. Eddie, her guardian, is great, and new character Angeline has potential. There could be some interesting things in store for the next book and I’m keeping an open mind there.
Adrian is still a standout character, and one of the reasons this series works so well. His one-liners are hilarious and he’s so charming but on the other hand he shows a sensitive and protective side as well. You can’t help but hope that things work out for him this time.
I love revisiting the Vampire Academy world through this spinoff, and am pleased with the direction the Bloodlines series is heading. The romance is heating up, and so is the drama. I recommend this series to fans of VA or fans of Mead’s or paranormal books in general. I eagerly await the next book The Indigo Spell, due out in February 2013.
Book Info: Young Adult Paranormal, Received via NetGalley, Available in HC, 384 pages
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
This year mermaids are poised to make a splash on the YA book scene. (Sorry, couldn’t resist) And there are several mermaid-themed books I have my eye on to read this summer. The Vicious Deep sets itself apart by featuring a merman rather than a mermaid. Lifeguard Tristan is a confident, flirty, sarcastic guy with a dry wit who has a crush on his unattainable best friend Layla. But he has bigger things to worry about when he wakes after a freak near drowning and finds himself in a fishy situation. Now this merdude is in line to inherit the sea kingdom should he accept the challenge.
Zoraida Cordova’s debut starts off with a bang and won me over right away. Cordova nailed the voice of the male protagonist Tristan and the story starts off fresh and funny. Tristan’s dialogue is witty and realistic and he acts like such a dude, flaws and all. I thought his inner dialogue was really clever and one of my favorite parts of the book. Loved his reactions to his new circumstances.
In addition to Tristan, there are several other sea creatures to help him on his quest. A couple of merfolk posing as his cousins come to Brooklyn to mentor him, and join him in high school. I always like the fish out of water scenario and it reminded me a little of Splash at the beginning. I especially liked Tristan’s charming cousin Thalia. There is a large cast of colorful sea and otherworldly creatures that Tristan encounters and in fact, it was hard to keep track of them all at times.
I really liked the first half of the book and Tristan getting acclimated to his situation. After the first part though it felt like the book veered off track and I had trouble staying invested. The story makes quick jumps to different settings and situations and the pacing just felt off. There is a lot of story potential there with the sea kingdom and romantic situation but towards the end it just wasn’t holding my interest and I was skimming pages. There is more action in the second half of the book but I think I just preferred the humorous tone of the first half.
Despite the pacing, there are some interesting characters and fresh dialogue in the kickoff to the Vicious Deep series. I will be curious to see how things play out in the sequel The Savage Blue.
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