Seventeen Moons

Another day, another review!

Beautiful Darkness – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness is the second novel in the Beatiful Creatures series which means that the fear of ‘sequel fatigue’ is often in the reader’s mind when they get to book #2. Will it live up to the hype of the original? Will it outdo the previous effort or fall flat? Sequel fatigue has happened after many an outstanding debut, but luckily that is not the case here. Beautiful Darkness is every bit as engrossing as its predecessor.

The novel opens with a rift growing between our golden couple – Ethan and Lena – after the fallout of the events that occurred in book one. While Ethan is prepared to risk everything for Lena, the romance plays second fiddle this time in favour of showing the reader more of the Caster world – a welcome distraction, because it would have gotten less interesting if this was just another Romeo/Juliet type love story. In a lot of ways, the Casters and their different powers are more interesting than the romance. It turns out there are scarier things out there than Ridley and Sarafine, along with some revelations that’ll raise your eyebrows. Nitpick: I’m not sure if I liked the new character Liv. There’s something about her that bothers me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. The novel’s conclusion wraps things up a bit more neatly than the first book does, but there are still implications that the worst is yet to come…

Final grade: A-

 

And there’s no playlist this week. All I’ve been hearing everywhere lately is Christmas music and it’s not making me feel very inspired. ­čśÉ

Rise Up

Finished a new book yesterday, here’s the review:

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

The title alone was enough to draw me into this one: a story about a teenage valkyire? Sign me up! I said to myself when I saw it in the store. Who wouldn’t want to read about valkyries? With YA being a genre that’s delved into all sorts of mythologies and supernatural business in the last decade (angels, werewolves and demi-gods, oh my!) it’s high time we saw a book about valkyries. Of course they’re also some valkyrie action in Lesley Livingston’s Tempestuous and Starling – not to mention┬áthe inspiration from the valkyrie myths that I’ve used in my own writing – but I was more than ready for more.

As you might have guessed from that enthusiasm, my expectations were pretty high for Valkyrie Rising. I can happily report that this book lived up to its intriguing concept. Our protagonist is Elsa “Ellie” Overholt, a 16 year old girl with an overbearing older brother and a pretty kickass grandmother, who finds herself in the middle of the fight when the ancient world of myths collides with the 21st century. Local boys are disappearing in and around her grandmother’s small village in Norway and Ellie’s newfound valkyrie strength might be the only thing that can save them. I liked that while Ellie was initially wary of her newfound power, she didn’t waste too much time in “I just wanna be normal!” mode. There’s also romance (in the form of the rather swoon-worthy Tucker Halloway) and appearances by two of the most famous Norse gods: Odin and Loki (I was totally picturing Tom Hiddleston as Loki, even though his version Loki doesn’t match up with the book description.) The book has a satisfying conclusion, but enough loose threads are left dangling for the sequel (which I think is preferable to an outright cliffhanger.)

Final Grade: A

 

I also recently bought some new books:

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

 

Song/Book Association

This week’s playlist is sort of a work-in-progress. You know how people make YouTube videos for their favourite shows/couples and they spend ages coming up with the perfect song to describe that show or couple? I’ve been trying to do that with books. I’ve only come up with eight songs so far so it’s a short one.

Weekly Playlist #8: Wow, you’d think this was put together by a Florence fan or something

1. The book: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

The song: “Howl” – Florence + The Machine

 

2. The book: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

The song: “Seven Devils” – Florence + The Machine

 

3. The book: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The song: “Valentine” – Xandria

 

4. The book: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

The song: “Sisters of the Light” – Xandria

 

5. The book: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

The songs: “Emily Not, Not Gone” – Cemetary Sighs and “Ravenheart” – Xandria

 

6. The book: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

The song: “Leave My Body” – Florence + The Machine

 

7. The book: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

The song: “Angels” – Within Temptation

 

It’s fun coming up with these. Hopefully next time I’ll use other artists besides Florence and Xandria.

 

Turning to Stone – or not

New week, new review!

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Here’s a concept for you: Medusa and the Gorgons weren’t the bad guys.

Stop, take a breath, and let that sink in.

That’s basically the starting point for Sweet Venom: the first in what promises to be an exciting new series. Instead of being a hideous creature who turned men to stone with one fatal look, Medusa is re-envisioned as a monster hunter who was tasked with protecting the mortal realm from minotaurs, chimeras, manticores and all those other ancient beasties. Now in the 21st century the three descendents of Medusa – triplets Gretchen, Grace and Greer – are just discovering their ancestry and their destiny: they are part of a long line of monster hunters and they’re the only ones who can save the world.

A lot of the book sets up the necessary background info for what I’m sure will follow in the sequel. As such, this book doesn’t contain as much action as that other famous series based on Greek mythology – the Percy Jackson series – but there’s the promise of more fighting in the future because the story leaves us with a major cliffhanger. I also appreciate that instead of just presenting the myths as we know them, Childs is giving the Medusa myth a complete makeover. This is a must-read for all the mythology geeks out there.

Final Grade: A-

The Kat came back

Just one review for today.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals offers up another adventure for teenage catKat burglar Katarina Bishop and her band of loyal followers. Fans of the first book in the series, the excellently titled Heist Society will not be disappointed in this sequel. If anything, Ally Carter has made the second book better than the first. This time around, Kat isn’t after stolen paintings: she’s after a jewel that’s supposed to be cursed. But this time things get personal as we delve further into the network of criminal families when Kat is double-crossed and we learn some interesting info about Kat’s uncle Eddie. As with Heist Society, my only complaint is that it could have been a bit longer.

A sequel that will leave you wanting more – and fear not! The third book is due out next year!

Final Grade: B+

 

Weekly Playlist: Cats, Kats and other critters

1. “Love Cats” – The Cure

2. “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” – The Aristocats soundtrack

3. “Memory” – Cats soundtrack

4. “7 Days to the Wolves” – Nightwish

5. “Wild Bird” – Lyriel

6. “She Wolf (Falling to Pieces)” – Sia and David Guetta

7. “Dog New Tricks” – Garbage

8. “The Lionness” – Xandria

9. “Ravenheart” – Xandria

10. “Byrds of Prey” – Bertie Blackman

 

Angelic Encore

Today’s order of business: book review, latest purchases and weekly playlist.

Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand.

Hallowed is the sequel to Unearthly, which I reviewed awhile back.┬áHallowed is a successful sequel (no sophomore slump here) that picks up where the previous entry left off and sets the scene for what’s to come in book three (due out next year.) It’s hard to review this one without giving away the plot of the first book, but I’ll just say this: if you liked Unearthly, you’ll like Hallowed too. There were some great moments that I did not see coming at all.

Tiny nitpick: I’m still not sure which boy Clara should end up with. What I’m looking forward to finding out more about in book three: Angela! What is her deal? I’m sure there’s more to her than meets the eye. And I’d like to learn more about Sam. And Clara’s dad! And her brother! Man, it’s hard not to give the whole plot away here. But it’s a worthy follow-up, that much I can vouch for.

Final grade: A-

I went to the bookstore yesterday but I only bought two:

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

See? I’m slowly learning restraint when it comes to book buying! Though I did buy Keith Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor last week too, so maybe I’m just learning to spread the buying out a little more…

And finally, the weekly playlist. This week’s playlist doesn’t have a theme, it’s just stuff I’ve been listening to lately.

Weekly Playlist #6: Hollywood Infected Your Brain

1. “Silence” – Lucia

2. “Teen Idle” – Marina & The Diamonds

3. “Brutal Hearts” – Bedouin Soundclash featuring Coeur De Pirate

4. “Only The Horses” – Scissor Sisters

5. “Little Talks” – Of Monsters and Men

6. “Been Better” – Kyla La Grange

7. “Sweet Nothing” – Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch

8. “She’s Not Me”┬á– Lana Del Ray

9. “Hollywood” – Marina & The Diamonds

10. “Let’s Have a Kiki” – Scissor Sisters