Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Once Burned, by Jeaniene Frost

- Night Prince #1
Release date: June 27th 2012
Published by: Avon
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

She's a mortal with dark powers...
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

He's the Prince of Night...
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

Jeaniene Frost is, to put it in a very simple way, my favorite author of all times. Everything she wrote, and I literally mean every single book she wrote, got into my favorite list. Her writing is fluid, full of sarcasm and yet the romance she builds in every novel is sweet and sexy at the same time. Her characterization is solid, the plot is consistent, and it's impossible not to fall for the heroes (a.k.a. Bones, Spade, Mencheres...). It shouldn't come as a surprise to see that I gave Once Burned 5 stars. I would've given it 10 stars if I could.

All the aspects of Jeaniene Frost's books that I mentioned above are present in Once Burned. To write about Dracula as a main character of a love story requires a certain amount of... creativity, to put it mildly, that not all the authors have. Vlad didn't make me fall in love with him in the Night Huntress series, but then, his potential as a hero and as a love interest weren't fully explored. In Once Burned, he's the main attraction, and man, he makes a hell of a love interest. He's arrogant and protective of his people above all else, but he's also fierce, strong, and gentle. Vlad is a fantastic character, and it would be impossible not to fall in love with him just as I did with Bones.

Don't get me wrong. Bones is amazing, and one of the few characters I've read about that can be just as interesting after 6 books and 3 novellas as he was in the beginning of the series. But Vlad has... something more. His relationship with Leila doesn't even come close to Bones and Cat's relationship in Halfway to the Grave, but it affected me the same way. Maybe that's because Leila is just as likable as Cat. She's determined, snarky, and is strong enough to bear the weight of her powers and the realization that Vlad is, indeed, Dracula, without breaking or whimpering.

As a whole, Once Burned was everything I thought it would be, and more. I cannot wait for the next book in the Night Prince series, and I really hope it's just as good as Night Huntress. Jeaniene Frost has a lot of potential, and Once Burned just proved to me why I consider her my favorite author. Her stories never fail me, and I really, really hope it stays that way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mirage, by Kristi Cook

- Winterhaven #2
Release date: June 5th 2012
Published by: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3/5 stars
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Violet McKenna is back for her senior year at Winterhaven, and thrilled to be with Aidan after a long summer apart. But when a violent and disturbing vision begins to haunt her, Violet suddenly feels unsure of everything: who to trust, if she is in danger, and—worst of all—whether she and Aidan are really meant to be together.

It wouldn't come as a surprise to say that Mirage was one of the most anticipated books in 2012, for me. I almost died with excitement when I found out Haven was going to have a sequel. I mean, come on. Haven was original - though full of clichés - and refreshing in a way that made you forget your problems and focus on the story enough to enjoy it. However, and I don't say this lightly, Mirage was a disappointment for me, due to the story itself, or my lack of interest in it. To be honest, I haven't been able to read a single book since Inheritance, and I thought Mirage could get me out of this crisis. It didn't. 

What really bothered me as I was reading Mirage was the non-existence of action scenes. A book requires more than a few training sessions and troubled dreams to entertain the reader, especially since Haven did have its good moments of action. That said, I was bored. The plot consists of endless dialogues without apparent meaning, and clichés from Haven that didn't need repetition. It wasn't original, it wasn't exciting, and though the romance was good, it sure as hell wasn't enough to make me enjoy it after reading Inheritance. 

I know I'm probably being too harsh in this review, and it's obvious that any book will seem pale in comparison to Inheritance, but... come on. Give me something else. I didn't finish Mirage - It took me more than a week to get to the middle of the book, and I gave up by then - but unless Aidan finds his cure, I won't pick it up again for a few months. My expectations were high, and I was sorely disappointed. I will give it one more shot... but not now. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini

- The Inheritance Cycle  #4
Release date: November 8th 2011
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

It began with Eragon....It ends with Inheritance. Not so very long ago, Eragon--Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider--was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. 

Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.
Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chance.
The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to imagine. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost?
This is the spellbinding conclusion to Christopher Paolini's worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.

It took me 7 months to buy this book. I started new series, I read new novels, but I couldn't buy Inheritance, for a simple thing: The Inheritance Cycle is my favorite fantasy series, and I love it so much I just couldn't finish it. Perhaps it's a coward thing to do, but I spent all these months preparing myself for it to end. And now, I realize that it was nonsense. Had I read this book the day it was released, or two years from now, my reaction would've been the same.

People either love or hate The Inheritance Cycle. All fantasy series are like this, for the story is extremely detailed, and if you don't like this kind of thing, it'll be painful to read. I don't usually like this narration *one of the reasons I can't read The Lord of the Rings*, but Christopher Paolini's writing is unique. It's detailed without being slow; it's rich in vocabulary without looking forced; and most of all, it creates an atmosphere that traps the reader and doesn't let go. Once you start reading Paolini's book, you can't stop. A single chapter can pull you in Eragon's world, simply because of the narration, and the veracity of the characters' personality.

Eragon, Saphira, Arya, Glaedr, Nasuada, Roran, Murtagh... their personalities are so carefully constructed you have a clear image of each one, of each face, body, and expression, and it's not overwhelming. Paolini is that good of a writer. He can make you relate to all of the characters, understand every single person in this book, even the Urgals, who aren't supposed to be that deep. This incredible aspect extends to all of the races as well. Throughout the series, Paolini shows the reader the aspects of each race in Alagäesia, so in the ending, you also have a clear image of that. This, and Paolini's fantastic narration, only leads to a formidable world-building, one as strong as it can possibly be. The fight scenes, especially, are impossible to stop reading. It's like you can feel everything that's happening, and that's just astounding. I've never experienced this before.

Inheritance would've been perfect had not been for the ending. It was realistic and something I should've seen as a possibility before, but it disappointed me. It was understandable, and if fit the series perfectly, but... It just didn't work for me. I wanted to see more of Eragon and Arya's relationship, as friends, allies, and I didn't get that. Of course, they went as far as friends go, but since Paolini left clues of something else going on between them, I wanted this explored. I guess he didn't go down that road because this isn't a romance series, and I get that, but... it's the last book. I, as a fan, wanted just a little bit more.

This review is huge, but I can't put enough words with just two paragraphs. The Inheritance Cycle changed the way I look at a war, it changed the way I look at fantasy books, and I couldn't be more grateful. This is, perhaps, the most wonderful series I've read in my life, simply because it's good from the start till the ending, and it messes you up in infuriating ways. It makes you cry, laugh, root for the heroes, and feel desperate when something goes wrong. Even after all of this, I feel like I haven't done this series justice. It hurts to write this review, knowing that The Inheritance Cycle is over. Christopher Paolini is one of the most brilliant young authors out there, and to him, I can only say thank you.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lover Unleashed, by J.R. Ward

- Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Release date: March 29th 2011
Published by: NAL
Genre: Adult Fiction/ Urban Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is - was - one of my favorite urban fantasy series. The first three books were wonderful, the characters were engaging, the romance fierce, and J.R. Ward knew how to write a fantastic story. But then Lover Revealed came, and with it, a deep sense of hatred for the characters grew on me. I didn't like Butch, and I hated Marissa. The fifth book was better, but not as good as the first ones. And so on and on. The quality of this series has gone downhill ever since, and Lover Unleashed was no exception.

One of the most disturbing things I've realized as I was reading this book is that there is no plot whatsoever. J.R. Ward creates a lot of issues for the characters to deal with, we go along with them throughout the book, and that's it. The focus of this novel isn't on the characters and in the story, and that creates a huge problem: after a couple of chapters, it gets boring. So incredibly boring. I wanted some action, some kickass scenes and more development when it came to the romance. The author, however, focused this novel on a lot of characters, and I was lost. I didn't know who the main character was anymore.

I'm not saying Lover Unleashed is awful, and I'm not going to continue with the series. If anything, I'm more determined to prove that J.R. Ward is a good author, and that BDB can be fantastic even after 10 books. However, I'm disappointed with Lover Unleashed. The romance didn't hold my attention, Vishous and Jane did, and that's not good. I'm still reading Lover Reborn. Tohr is one of my favorite characters, and I wouldn't miss his book for anything.


Ps: I'm sorry I was so absent lately. I've been dealing with some personal issues, and I just wasn't in the mood to read anything, much less write reviews. I'm better now, but still, writing this review was incredibly difficult, so I apologize beforehand if I disappear mysteriously again o.O