Tuesday, May 27, 2014

REVIEW: TRAPPED ~ IRENE HANNON

Following their mother’s death, Laura takes charge of her teenage half-sister, Darcy.  A clash of personalities and wills soon leads to Darcy running away and getting herself into all kinds of trouble.  Laura hires Phoenix Inc to track down her wayward sister, and the case lands on the desk of James Devlin.  Before long it’s not only Darcy’s safety that’s on the line, but Laura’s heart.

Dev is attracted to Laura the moment he lays eyes on her, which is disconcerting considering she is nothing like the women he usually dates.  She is conservative and quiet – she’s a librarian, for goodness’ sake! - yet he finds himself drawn to her nonetheless.  Phoenix rules dictates no getting involved with a client, and while he’s determined to honour the professionalism Phoenix is built on, he finds it difficult to keep his relationship with Laura from becoming personal. 

Darcy runs away from home thinking life on her own terms would be a blast.  However, she soon realises that things at Laura’s place weren’t as bad as she thought.  Once she makes the decision to return to Laura, however, that’s no longer an option – Darcy finds herself in the clutches of a demented serial killer.  Can Dev connect the dots before it’s too late?


Trapped is the second book in Irene Hannon's Private Justice trilogy.  Each book focuses on one of the partners of Phoenix Inc, and can be read as a stand-alone.

One of  the things that bothers me most about this book is the fact that Laura and Dev don’t spend nearly enough time together for my liking.  They have great chemistry, so it was very frustrating that they don't have many scenes together – not as many as I would have liked, anyway.  There is also too much focus on Mark and Darcy, who I consider to be secondary characters.  I wouldn’t be surprised if calculation shows they have more page time than Dev and Laura.  

As I have mentioned in the past, I’m not a fan of knowing the identity of the villain from the get go.  I prefer having an author making me work to figure out the mystery alongside the main characters, but once again Hannon shares the identity of the villain very early on.  I found myself skipping Mark’s POV sections – I just didn’t care.  I realise the author attempted to let the reader into the mind of a killer, but I found these sections to be extremely boring and eventually I just started skipping Mark's scenes altogether - even the end, which I expect is supposed to be tense, but really isn't.

There is also much less focus on faith than I expected; it’s much less of a central theme than I have come to expect from Hannon.  There were a few mentions of Laura praying for Darcy’s safe return, and Darcy remembering a church service or two.  Dev has come to believe that God does not care about the human race, but ultimately winds up praying to God out of desperation.  As I would generally classify Hannon’s books as religious fiction, I would have appreciated a little more focus on faith.  I would have liked to see more of Darcy and Dev’s spiritual growth, and also more of Dev and Laura as a couple than only one short epilogue.  On that note, Hannon likes to end her epilogues with the characters getting engaged – I’m all for happily ever after, but she needs to guard against her basic plot structure becoming too predictable.

Sadly this book just wasn’t suspenseful for me at all. I thoroughly enjoyed Hannon’s Heroes of Quantico trilogy, but the Private Justice trilogy just isn’t grabbing me in the same way.  I’ll probably read the next book in the series, Deceived, because I'm a little OCD like that and I need to finish a series a started, but truthfully I won’t be rushing to the shelves for this one.  Sadly the Private Justice trilogy is not living up to my expectations.


Product Information:
Title: Trapped
Author: Irene Hannon
Number of Pages: 400
Year: 2013
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 0800721241
ISBN13: 9780800721244

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Friday, May 23, 2014

REVIEW: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE - A DANCE WITH DRAGONS 2: AFTER THE FEAST ~ GEORGE R.R MARTIN

It is becoming increasingly difficult to write spoiler-free reviews of A Song of Ice and Fire.  I'll do my best, but if you are not up to date, beware.


A Dance with Dragons 2: After The Feast is no less interesting than A Dance with Dragons 1, and was by no means a disappointing read.  Several interesting things happen to shake up the Realm:

Stannis gains support of many Northmen and marches on Winterfell with the intent of taking it from the Boltons (and as such, the Lannisters), but with winter truly coming, can his company survive long enough to reach it?

Theon Greyjoy surprisingly remembers his name (with a little help from Bran Stark!), finds his courage (with a little help from Mance Rayder!) and helps Jeyne Poole escape the evil clutches of Ramsay Bolton, surprisingly winding up with Stannis Baratheon.

In the house of Black and White

We get to spend more time with Arya Stark, who is fast becoming the nameless, faceless girl of Braavos.  She is training with the guild of assassins known as the Faceless Men (such as her friend, Jaqen H’ghar) growing into a silent killer.  While I fear for Arya’s humanity, I can’t help but love the strong, brave, badass she is becoming.  Arya also discovers her skinchanger abilities, and alongside Bran is now one of only two Starks who actually realize what they can do (it is possible Jon caught on just in the nick of time, but we can’t be sure just yet).

Cersei Lannister gets her comeuppance to a degree, but she is still planning, plotting and conniving to worm her way out of punishment.  And her champion – Ser Robert Strong – could he truly be who I think he is?  

The penance walk

Tyrion, on his way to find Daenerys Targaryen and assist her in conquering Westeros, faces  his worst nightmare when he, Jorah and Penny are sold into slavery; however, with Tyrion’s wiles they are not slaves for long.  Interestingly, Tyrion and Jorah sign on to join a very unexpected company…

Contrary to my predictions, Daenerys does not marry Euron Greyjoy (who has sent his brother to fetch Daenerys – I can’t imagine her reacting well to that – not knowing Victarion intends to marry Daenerys himself), Quentyn or even Aegon.  Instead she marries someone far less interesting - Hizdahr zo Loraq. She does this purely to stop the attacks of the Sons of the Harpy.  This storyline really got on my nerves.  Daenerys is portrayed as strong and smart, and personally I think this is the dumbest thing she’s ever gone and done.  Previously she took what she wanted and came up with the most clever of ways to destroy her foes.  To see her rolling over like this was quite the disappointment. Anyhow, Ser Barristan soon starts questioning her new husband’s loyalty.  Does he truly love Dany, or did he marry her for the throne of Meereen?  Does he intend to share the rule, now that he is King?  Things concerning Dany’s dragons are certainly chaotic this time around, definitely more dangerous as well.  Dany ultimately decides to chain them up in a dark pit, with Drogon escaping and Rhaegal and Viserion tied up, largely leaving the dragons out of the picture – again, disappointing.  Can Dany possibly tame the wild Drogon, Balerion The Black Dread come again?  On the bright side Martin gives Dany a spectacular final two chapters in ADWD that more than make up for her disappointing actions and overall quite boring storyline.  


Daenerys and Drogon

On the wall the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow, has many enemies and must constantly watch his back.  His black brothers start grumbling when Jon makes a truce with the wildlings North of the wall, allowing the wildlings to enter Westeros and even joining the Night’s Watch to fortify the wall.  What Jon understands, unlike just about everyone else, is that something worse than the wildings is fast approaching.  Winter is coming, and so are the White Walkers.  Jon is doing his level best to prepare for the coming attack, which no-one else believes is coming.  Jon is smart, innovative and brave – an excellent Lord Commander (I must say, though, I kind of wanted him to accept Stannis’ offer of becoming a legitimate Stark, marrying Val and rebuilding Winterfel – while I never got into Jon with Ygritte, Jon and Val have excellent chemistry).  Melisandre, however, keeps warning Jon about daggers in the dark…

When Jon receives a taunting letter from Ramsay Bolton, “the lord of Winterfell”, Jon finally realizes that he can no longer keep trying to be neutral when reckless wars are tearing the realm apart.  Jon announces that he will ride south against the Boltons, violating his oath of neutrality.  How will his already peeved black brothers react?

A Dance With Dragons concludes with the reader finally learning where Varys’ true allegiance lies and what he and Magister Illyrio have been up to all this time – and the confirmation that Winter has come.

There are several issues to be addressed in the next instalment of the series, The Winds of Winter. 

*SPOILERS! SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!*

Aegon has launched his attacks and is officially attempting to conquer Westeros – will he succeed?  Will Denearys reunite with all three of her dragons?  What will happen with Khal Jhaqo, the former Bloodrider of Khal Drogo who betrayed her after Drogo's death?  Will Dany exact her promised revenge and reform her Khalasar, adding thousands of Dothraki to her Unsullied?  (What army could possibly withstand the Dothraki, Unsullied and dragons?)  Will Tyrion convince the Second Sons to turn their cloaks and fight for Daenerys?  Will he rescue Daario Naharis and gain Dany’s trust?  (Truthfully, I can’t wait to see Dany and Tyrion together.)  What will happen now that Brienne has led Jaime into a trap set by Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood Without Banners?  (I want more scenes of Lady Stoneheart, already!)  Did Ramsay Bolton truly defeat Stannis Baratheon? As for the Starks - Davos is on his way to Skagos (have fun with the unicorns and cannibals!) to return Rickon Stark to the North.  Will Rickon and Shaggydog’s famous aggressive and distrusting temperaments come into play?  What is the point of Bran’s greenseeing?  Will he ever return to Westeros?  Will Arya?  Will she reunite with Nymeria? Will Sansa allow Littlefinger to manipulate her into doing his bidding? And most importantly, is Jon Snow alive? 

Martin has confirmed there will be two major battles in TWOW:  The battle of Meereen, and the battle for the North.  The release date for TWOW has not been set as Martin is still in the process of writing it.  His publisher has confirmed that the book is not slated to be released this year, meaning the earliest possible release date is 2015.  My guess is we’ll have to wait longer - I’m hoping for 2016, but I doubt TWOW will be released before 2017.  Here’s hoping I’m very wrong!


Product Information:
Title: A Dance With Dragons 2: After The Feast
Author: George R.R Martin
Number of pages: 592
Year: 2011
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN-10: 0074660721
ISBN-13: 978-0074660720
ASIN: B00760BPQA

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

NEW RELEASE: OUT OF CONTROL ~ SARAH ALDERSON


While I eagerly anticipate the next book in Sarah Alderson’s Lila series (tentatively titled “Killing Lila”), the author is releasing a book which promises to provide an Alderson fix that looks to live up to the action of Lila and co!

Tomorrow is the official release date for Out of Control, which follows 17 year old Liva whose new life in New York quickly turns into a nightmare.  When Liva is the sole surviver of a brutal murder, she’s taken into police custody for her own protection. But when the police station is attacked and bullets start flying, it becomes clear that Liva is not just a witness - she’s a target.

Together with a car thief called Jay, Liva manages to escape the massacre but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit two killers who will stop at nothing to find them.



I highly anticipate this read, so look out for my review.  Get your hands on a copy! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

REVIEW: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS ~ JOHN GREEN


The Fault in our Stars by John Green follows the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a terminally ill sixteen year-old, who meets the great love of her life at a cancer support group.  Hazel sees herself as a grenade, bound to blow up eventually, and her wish is to minimize the damage; so she keeps Augustus at arm’s length.  Augustus, however, will not be deterred.  This book is a beautiful portrayal of young love, complicated by living with terminal cancer.

Augustus (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) in the film version of TFIOS

I love, love, love the way this book is written.  It’s very intelligent, very clever writing.  It is first and foremost a love story, but offers quite a realistic look at the life of cancer patients (to an extent, but hey, this is fiction).  If this book does nothing else, it will give you a whole new appreciation for every breath you breathe effortlessly. 

I adore the characters.  Hazel and Augustus are such unique, interesting characters – as are the supporting characters.  I love Hazel’s relationship with her parents and Augustus’ relationship with Isaac.  This book might have my favourite dialogue ever – I love everything that Hazel and Augustus say; like I said, clever writing.  Is this how the average teenager talks?  Absolutely not; but that's why I love it.


I have to say though, while I know this book emotionally wrecked a lot of people, it did not make me cry; and I had expected it to.  I worried for a while because this book did not make me ugly cry as it seemed to make everyone else do - is there something wrong with me? - but considering I easily get chocked up while reading very often, I have just come to accept that while I loved this book, I guess I just didn't connect emotionally. I have to say that the first half of the book was better than the second half of the book, and I think maybe there was just too much hype surrounding the book when I started reading. Maybe my expectations were unrealistically high. The book by no means fell short and definitely falls under the category of best books I’ve ever read, but the tears just never came for me.  

The Fault In Our Stars is a beautiful book I would recommend to anyone who is considering reading it.  TIME Magazine called this book “Damn near genius”.  I would have to agree.


I am just so thrilled this book didn’t end mid-sentence.  You’ll have to read it to find out why…


The film version of The Fault In Our Stars is set to be released in June, and stars the talented Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace, and Ansel Elgort as Augustus.  By the looks of the trailer the film is a faithful adaptation of the book, and I will definitely give it a go.



Product Information
Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Pages: 337
Year: 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group
ISBN-10: 014242417X
ISBN-13: 978-0142424179
ASIN: B005ZOBNOI

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