Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

SPOILER alert! This is the second book in Kelley's YA Darkest Powers trilogy and contains some spoilers from the first book. Also, I probably shouldn't be blogging when I'm this ill, cause I can't really think straight. So bear with me and I'll attempt to make this a coherent review.

"Chloe Saunders used to be a normal teenage girl - or so she thought. Then she learned the shocking truth - she is a walking science experiment. Genetically altered at birth by a sinister group of scientists known as the Edison Group, Chloe is an aberration - a powerful necromancer who can see ghosts and even raise the dead, often with terrifying consequences. Even worse, her growing powers have made her a threat to the surviving members of the Edison Group, who have decided it's time to end their experiment - permanently ...Now Chloe is running for her life with three other supernatural teenagers - a charming sorcerer, a troubled werewolf and a temperamental young witch. Together they have a chance for freedom - but can Chloe trust her new friends?"

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong is the second book in her Darkest Powers Trilogy, following the story of 15 year old Chloe Saunders, a necromancer with a lot of power, and no idea what to do with it. (Warning, there will be spoilers here for the first book, so I suggest you skip this review if you're intending to read it and don't want to be spoiled!)

In the Summoning Chloe was sent to a group home for troubled teens after she had a 'breakdown' at school. There she discovers she's a necromancer and that the rest of the teens there are also supernaturals, all different kinds. Most of the group band together to escape, but someone warns the people in charge, the Edison Group as we discover in The Awakening, and they don't get away cleanly.

The Awakening picks up pretty much exactly where The Summoning left off. Chloe has just been betrayed by her aunt and is re-captured and locked up in another building, along with Rae, another teen from the home. She is determined to find a way out and to meet up with Simon and Derek to find their dad, a former member of the Edison group who has gone missing. In doing so, Tori, a witch, daughter of a member of the Edison group and someone who really doesn't like Chloe, tags along for the ride. She wanted to get away just as much as Chloe, but for very different reasons.

I really enjoyed this book. I like how Chloe's mind works, talking about what part of a horror movie it would be, or how things would go if it were a horror movie instead of her life. I also like how resourceful she is, and that as scared as she gets, she's not going to give in. Derek is probably my favourite character though. He's a werewolf, struggling to get through his first change, but already equipped with super strength and hearing. He's so vulnerable, terrified of hurting another kid, but he'll do anything to protect those he cares about. He's got no tact at all though, which is really hilarious at times, but it does make me feel really sorry for Chloe as she's the one having to bear the brunt of it.

This book sees them discovering they've all been genetically altered. And when the 'subjects' haven't turned out the way the group want, they've been killed. Chloe manages to get away, with Tori, and they go on the run with Derek and Simon, trying to reach the boy's father. Along the way they learn a bit more about themselves, what being on the run really means for them all and Chloe discovers a whole lot more about what she can do that she'd really rather know nothing about. There are also a few small hints of romance, and really nothing more, between Chloe and Derek or Simon. My personal view is Derek. It seems to be more Simon interested in Chloe than the other way around, but at the same time, there isn't really anything said about actual attraction between Chloe and Derek.

I don't think either The Summoning or The Awakening have the punch that most of Kelley's main Otherworld series have, but they're still really enjoyable! I'm really looking forward to The Reckoning, the final part of the trilogy, to see how it plays out and if Chloe can control her powers. Oh, and I don't think I mentioned this yet, there is a demi-demon haunting the building the Edison group use. One that really wants Chloe to bring it forth to wreck havoc on everyone. Looking forward to seeing how that plays out too! And to getting the answer to the Simon/Derek question ;)

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 24 April 2009

Twenty One

I got back from Spring Harvest last Sunday, and I managed not to get ill until yesterday. So I was well for my 21st, which turned out to be a really good day. Didn't really do anything, except watch Disney films with my sister, but it was still a good day. I was just in a really great mood and was even laughing at myself when I burnt my wrist, putting the cake in the oven.

Now however I'm really ill with a flu type bug, and it's not much fun. I may well not be well enough to ride tomorrow, which will be really disappointing. And it would appear that Royal Mail has lost a book that should have been delivered yesterday, which is very frustrating. So from being a very good week, it's going pretty rapidly downhill.

I apologise for the lack of new reviews, I ended up spending more time writing last week than reading. But hopefully I'll get around to reviewing some stuff next week again. Mostly right now, I'm just hoping this bug goes away as fast as it came. And now I'm going to go lie down again cause my head feels about ready to explode. lol

Monday, 13 April 2009

Another Short One

Been a week that's been busier than it was meant to be and so I'm still really ill facing a week away at Spring Harvest, but hopefully I'll still manage to enjoy it just a little. Haven't been able to settle to any new books either, just re-reading favourties, but I'll probably post a couple more reviews next week some time, cause with the lack of internet and tv while I'm gone, I'll be reading more lol.

So this is it until next week, I'm leaving tomorrow and just praying I'll cope. Somehow. lol

Friday, 3 April 2009

Tempting Evil by Keri Arthur

"In a world of sorcery and seduction, the nights bring out the beautiful, the damned, and the desired. Here, Riley Jenson is on her own–half werewolf, half vampire, working for an organization created to police the supernatural races. Trusting her superiors and lovers barely more than she trusts her worst enemies, Riley plays by her own set of rules. Her latest mission: to enter the heavily guarded pleasure palace of a criminal named Deshon Starr–a madman-scientist who’s been messing around in the gene pool for decades. With two sexy men–a cool, seductive vampire and an irresistibly hot wolf–vying for her attention, Riley must keep focused. Because saving the world from Deshon Starr will mean saving herself–from the trap that’s closing in around her. . . ."

Tempting Evil is the third book in the Riley Jenson, Guardian series by Keri Arthur. I completely gave up on this series a couple of years ago. At that point I wasn't enjoying the plot, and I was just finding Riley annoying. But I decided to give the series another try, so I bought the book I left off with.

I got pretty hooked this time. I wanted to keep reading it, but I could still put it down. It's been too long since I read the first two books and I couldn't remember everything that happened in them very well, so some if it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but I remembered enough to go with it.

After this I really like Riley's character. She is a little annoying at times, but I like her sassy-ness, and determination not to submit to the wishes of her overbearing boss. She'll get the job done, but her way. I like that Riley isn't some one who's willing to kill on command. She's tough, but she doesn't live to get in to fights. And her biggest desire is to find her soul mate and have kids. Something she knows could be impossible. I love her relationship with Quinn, and I love Quinn too for that matter. I'm looking forward to seeing how things progress in future books. He's clearly very determined to have his girl! I'm glad that the Deshon Starr plot has finished though. I realise there will be fall out, but one thing I remember from the first two books is that it felt like it was dragging, but it came to a good end. The pace through the book was good, but the end fight scene was a bit quick. They've been after these guys for months, and then suddenly it's over. But it was still a good ending. I'm gonna pick up the next book soon, but I may have to go back and get the first two as well, I think some stuff I forgot needs to be remembered!

Rating: 8/10

Cats and Rabbits

I have owned rabbits for the past 12 years, or something, I lost track. And through all that time, there have been lots of different neighbourhood cats around. Some of them have been really good with the bunnies and will sit and watch them, but face to face they won't attack. Some like to stalk them in the run and pretend to pounce on them. The rabbits have always held their own. They know when the cats are stalking them, and that the cats also can't reach them, so they will tease them. Hopping around a lot, then freezing, cats pounce and bunnies look at them as if to say 'that the best you can do?'. All very entertaining. I can watch them for ages when they're playing like that.

Currently there are 3 or 4 black and white cats who are the most common visiters. I'm not sure how many there are exactly cause they all look too alike. I think there are 3, but I can't be sure. Anyway, these b & w cats are hunters, they'll pounce on anything in the garden that moves, and normally they'll catch it. One of these cats, when he first showed up, was smaller than the rest and he's got this really cute little meiow. On top of that he's the friendliest one, human wise. You can get closer to him than any of the others and if he's in a good mood, he'll come say hi too.

However, the cats have realised that if a hutch door is open, which if one of the rabbits is in the run, there is, that hutches make great places to sit and rest. A couple of times now I've gone outside and found one of them in there, and at a couple of times when I've gone out at night to get Brax or Sunny in, I've found one of the cats in the hutch. Problem is, they're quiet. They're not bothered by me reaching in to the hutch to put food or hay in, so I have to actually lift them out. Fine in daylight when you can clearly see the mostly black cats there. But not so at night. At night you have to be careful.

Last night the little one got the better of me. I fed the rabbits, got Brax in from the run, put her in her hutch, shut them up for the night and went inside. Was in the bathroom upstairs when I heard one of the rabbits scrambling throught the hutch. Too much speed and nosie for it to be them going from one level to the other. Automatically I thought it was the fox, he's around every so often and the rabbits are good at letting me know he's there and to get rid of him. So despite them going quiet again, which normally with a fox they wouldn't, I knew something was up and I wouldn't sleep without checking on them.

Sunny is my angel, incredably friendly and just slightly nuts. He never stops moving if people are around and he craves attention. So when I went out, despite the covers being down, they knew I was there and Sunny started hopping around. Then he started thumping. I couldn't see or hear a fox, and couldn't decide if Sunny was fussing cause I was there, but ignoring him, or cause of somthing else. Brax is a totally different matter. She's nervous and doesn't like people, other than me, and she was her usual quiet self. No fuss, couldn't hear her moving around, totally normal. Except when there is a fox around, she's the first to make a fuss, and harder to settle. So I llifted one corner of Sunny's cover, put my fingers through the bars, let him know I was there and to settle down. Then did the same with Bracken, and almost had a heart attack. This was a bit past midnight so it was black out, couldn't see much, and Brax is dark in color and hard to spot. But I saw a small patch of white, and it took me a few seconds to process what I saw. But what I was seeing was the little cat nosing at the door looking around as if to say 'let me out'.

Let's just say my language wasn't repeatable and leave it at that. I snagged the other pin out of the cover and threw the door open, expecting to find an injured bunny inside. Cat darted out of the way soon as the door was open, and went to sit on the patio steps, clearly not very bothered. I grabbed Brax and hurried inside to check her over. Not a scratch. Little scared maybe, but not a scratch. Round one to Miss Brax. I put her back and realised the cat was still there. Then I wondered if maybe Brax had attacked the cat. She sees them on a daily basis and normally they can't touch her, so she's not scared of them. In her hutch, why wouldn't she defend her territory? So I coaxed the idiot kitty over and had a little look at him too. He didn't seem bothered so apparently Brax didn't take a chunk out of him either. Strange.

I swear, there was no cat on the lower level of her hutch when I shut her in. I would have seen movement or a flash of white, or when I put Brax in, she'd have fussed, and she didn't. So, I'm almost convinced the cat was upstairs. In the closed in section. Brax would have eaten her dinner, gone up the ramp and what I heard was her discovering she had a roommate and bolting back down the ramp. By the time I came down, the cat had followed her down, probably just as startled, and wanting out. No harm done to either. Just giving me a heart attack.

So, cat and bunny 1, me 0. Perfect.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Max by James Patterson

SPOILER warning!! Big spoilers for previous books ahead, this is the 5th Maximum Ride book and I suggest you don't read this if you want to be spoiled on the early books. Also, seriously recommend the first 3 in this 'series' as they're a trilogy and awesome, but stop there!!

Max is the 5th book in the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. The series was originally a trilogy, and the first three books show that really clearly. They are really, really good and a complete story in themselves. I can only assume that the series was continued because Patterson realised he could make even more money with them. The fourth book was terrible. It was basically a rant about the dangers of global warming. The kids didn't grow up or anything, they all developed odd new talents that really did nothing, Fang kissed Max and Max flew away, again. So really nothing much happened.

"Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy and Angel, six extraordinary kids who can fly, are back for another wild adventure as they try to save the world ...and themselves. Maximum Ride and the other members of the Flock have barely recovered from their last arctic adventure, when they are confronted by the most frightening catastrophe yet. Millions of fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii and someone - or something - is destroying hundreds of ships. Unable to discover the cause, the government enlists the Flock to help them get to the bottom of the disaster before it is too late. While Max and her team are exploring the depths of the ocean, their every move is being carefully tracked by Mr. Chu - a criminal mastermind with his own plans for the Flock. Can they protect themselves from Mr. Chu's army of mercenaries and save the ocean from utter destruction?"

So I picked up Max with no real expectations. And it's still nothing on the first three, but it was better than The Final Warning. There is finally some development between Max and Fang, and not just her flying away. Nudge isn't seen much, she shows a little independence and a desire to be 'normal', which is kind of interesting, but even when she's around, she's not mentioned much. Total, the flying, talking dog, is talking about marrying the Malamute he loves, may be the most ridiculous thing I've read, and it's not even funny, just ridiculous. There isn't a real flow to this book. It is a bit stop/start instead of flowing from one scene to another, Max will say something like 'and that's when it went wrong' and then it jumps to something later on, or half way through a fight or something.

Also, the idea behind these books was bird kids, 2% avian DNA and 98% human. So why do half the group now have gills too? If this is part of some plot where they have no idea that they have fish DNA too or something, then why has it not been explained? Because at this point, it just seems more like they wanted to do something different and have an excuse to have them be in water instead of in the air. They barely spent any time in the air at all, which despite Max talking about, was a shame. It felt like there was something missing, and that was it. I don't like the big involvement of adults either. Through most of the first three books they were on their own, coping without adults and I liked seeing that independence, now they're really reliant of adults and what they can offer, and can basically do anything they want instead of living a mostly hidden life.

However, on the plus side, there is a much better plot here again, and it actually has leads for what could be an okay 6th book. Despite my complaints on this book, I did enjoy it, and I am looking forward to the next one this time. Yeah, it wasn't great, but it was an improvement, and after the last one, I wasn't expecting this much. There is enough reason to keep reading the series. I like Max showing a little more vulnerability here and her anxiousness about being with Fang, combined with her determination to take care of the Flock and strength to keep going no matter what.

James Patterson has his good and bad books, and plenty of middle ground. So far this year I've read all three of his new releases: Run For Your Life, the second Michael Bennett book was great, 8th confession terrible and I could barely finish. And now Max, which I'd give 4/10. All over the place. You can never really know with his books until you read them. I'm glad this one was better, but I hope that the next is better because this series could be really great again with the right care and attention. 4/10