Thursday, September 29, 2011

Darkfever, by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Darkfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publisher: Gollancz (UK)/ Dell (USA)
Release Date: 8th September (UK)
Source: review copy from Gollancz
Notes: Book 1 in the 'Fever' series

Description from back cover: MacKayla Lane's life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she's your perfectly ordinary twenty-first century woman... until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister's killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed - a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae...

My thoughts: I have heard a lot about the Fever series from book bloggers in the states, so I was interested in finally getting to read it. I love the cover for this book, especially the cobbles! It's very simple, but gives a great feel for the book.

I feel like you get a lot more information about the Fae, and what's going on, in the prologue than you do in the next several chapters of the book. It gives clues to what the book's going to be about (and I hope the series) and I got really excited reading it, but I think there's a lot of things still to come that were hinted at here, then never showed up in the rest of the story.

Chapter One starts 'a year earlier', with Mac sitting by a pool, wondering when she's going to hear from her parents, and generally enjoying summer in Georgia. Then her sister dies, and her lovely happy world breaks apart. When she finds a voicemail message her sister left her the day of the murder, she realises that maybe her sister hadn't really been telling her everything, and, despairing with the Dublin police, she decides to go to Ireland herself. She's very lost and lonely there to start with, which I liked - it seemed much more realistic, and fit with what we have so far of her personality. She hasn't been there long before she starts seeing strange, horrible things, where it seems like no one else can see them, and understandably starts to think she's going crazy.

Then, enter Jericho Barrons. He and Mac are both looking for the same thing, and neither will tell the other what they know. When Mac learns more about what's going on in the city, and why she's seeing the strange things, she goes back to him for help, and they spend a lot of time together in the book - and Mac spends a lot of time wondering whether he's to be trusted. I'll be honest - I don't really know what 'role' he's supposed to play in the book - I've heard other bloggers speak reverently of him, along with the gorgeous heroes in other stories, but although Mac emphasises that he's attractive, I never felt like it was anything more than that. Barrons is more than a little intimidating and creepy, I think - he turns up at the inn where she's staying, in the middle of the night, and threatens her! And then she starts trusting him! Crazy girl, I think.

I feel like, with the way Mac's character was painted at the start, the book played out accordingly - everything fit with her, and the pace of her change towards a more kick-ass heroine was realistic - she doesn't just wake up overnight and lose the, well, bimbo-ness that she seems to have to start with. I enjoyed hearing the ridiculous names for the various nail varnish colours that she would wear, but that's about as far as it went - I'm very glad that by the end of the book she was growing up, and starting to be a bit more like an urban fantasy heroine. I hope there's a little bit of a time-period break between this one and book two, so that she's more mature again, but even so I would definitely read on.

I really enjoyed the plot, and the world that Ms Moning has created here. The writing really pulled me in - I started reading at abot 2:30, and didn't stop until I was finished later that night. I loved the portrayal of Dublin - I've only visited it once, very briefly, but I could relate a lot of the things described in Darkfever to Edinburgh (where I live) - the confusing streets, old buildings, general spookiness at times ;) I am really looking forward to the next book - luckily Bloodfever, book two, comes out in October, so I don't have long to wait!

Overall, I think I'll give this 7 stars.

Thank you Gollancz for the review copy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Salt Sea, by Seanan McGuire

Title: One Salt Sea
Autor: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Release date: September 6th - Available now!
Source: Bought in Barnes & Noble, Philadelphia
Warning: This is book 5 in the series, review may contain spoilers for earlier books

Description: October "Toby" Daye is settling into her new role as Countess of Goldengreen. She's actually dating again, and she's taken on Quentin as her squire. So, of course, it's time for things to take a turn for the worse.

Someone has kidnapped the sons of the regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must find the missing boys and prove the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. Toby's search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves, and her deadline is firm: she must find the boys in three days' time, or all of the Mists will pay the price. But someone is determined to stop her-and whoever it is isn't playing by Oberon's Laws...

My review: I love these books, so I couldn't wait to see what would happen to Toby in this installment. This has to be one of the most consistent series', for me, in terms of how the characters are treated and how much I like what is going on. I think what I'm trying to get at is that McGuire doesn't mess readers around - horrible things happen to the characters, but someone you think is one thing doesn't suddenly become something totally different. We are 5 books in to the series now, and I've never ended up suddenly hating a character, or throwing a book across the room feeling betrayed betrayed, or wondering if I want to keep reading. I have loved these books since the first one, and I love how each new adventure manages to meet the standards of the previous one, or even improve on it.

In this book, we start with Toby being asked to attend a formal event to help prevent a war. Of course, that doesn't work out, so she enlists her usual allies and starts trying to find out who took the missing boys and where they might be now. You'll have to read the book to find out how successful they are ;) As part of the investigation, she gets to visit a sea kingdom, and learn about some of the cool creatures there, which I enjoyed reading about. I hope we get to see a little more of them in the future.

Something I really liked about this book was that we got a little more time between the things that were happening to see what 'normal' life for Toby and her friends, like May and Quentin, is like. There was still always tension, but it was like being able to surface to grab a mouthful of air before you go back in to the water again. There's also plenty of enigmatic Tybalt to keep me happy, and also a lot more Connor, now he's no longer married to Rayseline. I'm not sure how I feel about the relationship between Connor and Toby - in previous books it always seemed like it was never going to work out between them as well as they'd like, and I can't help feeling that there's still a little of that here. I'll have to read it again for second impressions. Another of my favourite characters, the Luidaeg, answers several reader/Toby question about her but raises some even bigger ones - I feel like this is another character we got to know a lot better in this book.

Although there's some very sad parts towards the end of this book (I cried a lot, I'll admit) I do like the way things finish up at the end of it for Toby. There's a lot of potential for interesting things happening in the future for her, I think. It's going to take a little while for her to be completely back on her feet after this book, just as with any of the others, but I'm looking forward to when it does happen.

I'll give it 9 out of 10

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Returning from the summer

Hi guys!
I'm back to college on Monday, so book reviews from me will be resuming this week! One of my resolutions for the new school year is to be more organised in a lot of ways, so I'm really going to try and get at least one book review a week up on here, hopefully more, and the Sunday 'In My Mailbox' posts will start again too. I'm really looking forward to getting back in to the book blogging community, I've missed it :)

Hopefully my first review will be up early next week, it's going to be the newly released 'One Salt Sea' by Seanan McGuire, which I'm almost finished and really enjoying.

How has everyone's summer gone? Read any good books? ;)