Interlude: Untold is coming for your soul

So I just got an email from bookdepository that Untold, the sequel to Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken, is on its way to me. It sounds like they’re releasing it a little early, but it’s always good for me when pre-orders are sent out a week earlier than their release day, because that means the book should be here just around the exact day it’s actually released. That’s what happens when you live beyond a big ocean and in a country in which the mailing system is having a teenage crisis. 

In case you’ve never heard of this book or you don’t remember right away, I did a flash review of it here and here’s the synopsis of Unspoken: 

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. Having an imaginary friend has made fitting in hard -but that's never bothered Kami.  She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is just the way she likes it.

But all that changes when the mysterious Lynburns return to Kami's village, along with teenagers, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami...
As life as she knows it begins to unravel, Kami is determined to get to the bottom of every mystery. Who is responsible for the bloody deed in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? 

I didn’t actually talk or fangirl that much about the book. There are several reasons for this, actually. While I obviously worship the ground which Rees Brennan walks on - she’s seriously one of my favorite authors for several reasons, one of which is that she’s a really awesome person (as far as I can tell) - this book was, well, difficult. It is a really, really, good book. The characters and the mystery we try to solve are absolutely brilliant, captivating and everything is told in a uniquely Rees Brennan -style, that will tickle your heartstrings. And then she’ll leave you bleeding on the floor - which is the difficult part. 

A lot of people on the internet have cried out about ending in particular for being painful. And it is because it leaves things so open. There’s a big showdown, stuff happens and characters all around are left hurt, unsure about their safety and feeling pretty shitty. And that’s the way the reader’s left too. What is there to say when the ending takes the rug from under your feet? Rees Brennan plays a gleeful game of chess with your feelings and boom, you have to wait a year. That’s the reason why haven’t talked so much about it. 

Of course, the book’s middle part was a labyrinth of awesome things that made you laugh out loud and then it had some serious heart-melting, feels-inducing parts that had you rolling on the floor because it hurt so much. Whenever I think about it, I remember how much I adore this book. But the book is perhaps a little slow, since it’s the first one in the series and I feel sad that I haven’t been fangirling so much over it. It isn’t as showy as some other books are, but it’s got enough drama and magical thunder storms to go around. 

I’m looking forward to Untold but then again, I’m afraid of what will happen. I want to find out what happens and I can tell (well, am hoping) that Rees Brennan will bring her worst - see Demon’s Covenant. 
But I think I’ll just end up screaming at characters (read: Jared) who do stupid stuff they shouldn’t do and who just should listen to my advice. 

I can’t wait to get my hands on Untold but I’m also afraid what the book will do. It’s so frustrating, not being able to decide whether to be extremely excited or scared. And I can tell that even if I go in scared and ready for the worst, I’ll still end up bleeding on the floor from the attack on my feels.

And last, here's the synopsis of Untold, which really spoiler-y if you haven't read the first one, so stop reading here and go read that one first, if you haven't! 

Free from bonds, but not each other

It's time to choose sides... On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the turh. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and powe. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she's now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be? 

Interlude: Romance!

Hello again. It’s been a while mainly because of my work: I’ve been doing really long hours, from 10 am-8 pm and have been so tired. 

And I was waiting for these books for two weeks (goddamn post office) so now that they’re here, I am bursting with love for them!

Also, these books have a very similar theme. I was feeling romance-y and you can tell when you look at my book choices. 

First package reveals Patricia Briggs’ Cry Wolf, the first in the Alpha and Omega series. I don’t know if you can tell but the cover is so very pretty in real life. It’s amazing, I actually gasped out loud when I opened the package. 

I was thinking if I should read the short novel first, but after reading the excerpt, I was pretty confident I could go into the book without that. I don’t know, I just wanted to go with this book first and so I did. I do believe I’ll at some point buy the short story, but we’ll see. 

So excited, because you know, Briggs is amazing. I read the first in her Mercy Thompson series and I adored her style. 

The first book also had with it Book Depository’s new bookmark, quotemark bookmark. Pretty much it has a hole in it so that you can hold it over the quote and take a picture of that and then post it with the hashtag #LoveThisQuote. 

I pretty much adore Book Depository’s bookmarks already, but this is just so cute and a fun idea. I love the color of it! 

Read more about it at bookdepository.com/quotemark

Second package is... 

Larissa Ione’s Rogue Rider! I admit to being a little doubtful about Lords of Deliverance mainly because none of the characters grabbed me like the Seminus brothers or their ladies did in Demonica. But I did end up addicted and I am itching to see how things are solved and what twists she has in store. As always Ione is an amazing writer. 

But not to point fingers but the cover is so, so very bad. It is atrocious. It’s pretty much the stereotype of a “soccer mom/chick lit/harlequeen romance novel” or something. There’s absolutely nothing good about this cover. I usually want my covers to catch my attention, but let’s just say that I’ve read enough bad romance novels as a kid that had this cover, so I’m just going to ignore it. 

And with it came another quotemark. If there’s one in each of these, I will laugh so loud. 

And number three is ... 

Larissa Ione’s Lethal Rider. Wee! The second one left Thanatos and Regan (who are stupid stupids) in a... bad situation. Yes, let’s call it that. I am extremely curious what will happen. Amaze me Ione!

And fourth is 

Kerrelyn Sparks’ The Undead Next Door. I adore her Love at Stake series, it’s so tongue in cheek sometimes and it doesn’t mean to be overly serious. It’s just a great big ball of fun. But I’m a weird person and am reading it in the wrong order, so we’ll see when they come up on the blog. 

And third quotemark. Heh. 

Fifth book: (This is the point where I forgot what books I’d ordered so it got really interesting.)

Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Flight, a short story collection from Guild Hunter universe. So excited! I’ve read the whole series now and the wait for Archangel’s Legion and beyond is nerve-wrecking. 

And look at the pretty, pretty cover! It’s amazing! Sadly, the picture of it is not as amazing. I swear, the lighting in this house. 

(Fifth quotemark. Bets on the last one?)


Pamela Palmer’s Desire Untamed. Now, the cover is a little eeh, so I didn't bother with a fancy picture. But the way the series is described on her site gives me Guild Hunter/Demonica/Black Dagger Brotherhood feels, so I wanted to give it a try. Curious and nervous and excited. Hopefully this won’t be a let down. 

And to compensate for the one book that had no bookmark, this one has two quotemarks! I did laugh out loud. 

So that’s it. I’m not sure which I’ll read first because so many goodies, but keep your eyes open and on this blog! 


Short Interlude...

Can you guess what I've been doing this past week? Sneezing my brains out that's what. 

Yes sir, I apparently caught some bug from out of nowhere and have been down with the fever for the past week. Finally getting better, so reviews are coming up. 

But really? I've pretty much been cursing my luck all these days that I've been doing nothing but sneezing. I mean, first I break my arm and then immediately I get sick. My annoyance levels are as red and high as they can get - I have no words for the rage I have. I just hate how I've been so useless at work and I feel super guilty for letting everyone down. 

Sigh. Let's just hope I won't have to deal with anything else for a while... 


You're Beautiful Tonight (Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh)

Review of 
Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past - but Dmitri's need to discover the turth is nothing compared to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face-to-face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality - the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting... and it will not stop until it brings a blood soaked nightmare to life once more.

Let's star this review by talking about the cover of this book. I mean really? That has to be one of the worst ones I've ever seen. It's absolutely horrible when you look at the other covers in the series, this just looks half-assed. And I get that in the beginning we know Dmitri better, but couldn't we have had even a small hint of Honor? 
Luckily the summary at least is good. 

I was actually surprised by this book. It jumps POVs and main characters seemingly so quickly after three books of Elena and Raphael. Though that isn’t a problem at all. I think it’s a refreshing book, especially after the last one. Now when we do go back to the Elena and Raphael with Archangel’s Legion, it’ll be like seeing old friends after a long time and that’ll be just that much sweeter. Also, seeing inside Dmitri’s head this intimately? At last. 

Now, before I go on, I loved this book, so very much. This is an absolutely brilliant book, with so much pain and yet tender, heartfelt moments. But it is a very difficult read. Dmitri’s a bit of an asshole, sometimes without a reason - there are no excuses given and his perspective helps things (I’m not going to lie, I like my characters a little asshole-y). And Honor’s story is also hard to read about, just because you care about the character so much that her pain is horrible to read about in detail and also because the details are not nice. But then, Singh does it beautifully. 

Honor, who we meet the second we open the book, steals your heart the moment she steps on to the pages. In a way, she’s the opposite to Elena and that’s an interesting dynamic after so much of her. Honor’s a very real person: she stands out from all of the characters with this brutal sense of honesty that she has about herself. The feeling I get from her is that she stays true to herself, even if it’s a struggle sometimes. 
Honor’s someone who tries her best, who feels and does everything by the fullest, even if it’s hard. She just keeps fighting. Unlike Elena, who seems to be a natural in everything, Honor’s had to fight for it. And while she’s a strong person, she isn’t someone who enjoys a fight: instead she uses her brains. She fights if she has to, but she’ll get out of it the way she can. Without Honor, Dmitri could never have carried this book by himself. 

Dmitri, our old friend. I have to say, I have always adored Dmitri - he just fits that 
perfect mold of an ancient vampire: lethal and with a side note of asshole. Dmitri’s certainly someone who’ll do anything to get to what he wants and hardly cares about collateral damage. But then gain, I can’t quite imagine hurting others just because he can and that’s the line of asshole that isn’t acceptable. 
He does have a softer side, but it’s so buried under this warrior-image and his outer shell that he uses to protect himself. He’s so old and been through so much pain that his protective actions have become part of his personality. It’s hard to shed those, even to do it in 300 pages. And what I really like is that he just doesn’t magically become a better person. Instead those walls come down a little and he can breathe more easily again. 
And with this book we see inside his head and while I don’t agree everything he does, I can understand him better. It doesn’t take away his asshole-ness but it’s easier to live with, if that makes any sense. 

Their relationship starts rocky, but there seems to be this something between them immediately. Not quite a tension or immediate passion, but something in-between. They revel around each other and it becomes clear from the beginning how they act different with each other than others. And as the story progresses, you see them mold around each other. Neither changes, but it’s as if they’re dancing around each other, trying to find the correct steps so they’ll be dancing to the same rhythm and won’t step on the other. 
It unravels slowly and you see it as if in slow-motion but it doesn’t distract you from the story. 

There’s an absolute difference in the voice and the feel of this story and the previous three books. Elena and Raphael’s story is perhaps just a little more refined, a little more careful of the details. This book is more rough, the tension’s a lot more pressuring and things are much more sort of “closer to the ground”. We’re not in the fancy world of angels, that we’ve seen. Things aren’t really pretty and Singh isn’t trying to make them any prettier or uglier - she says it as it is and that works for the story. Thanks to that the story is so much more real and it makes you a part of it. That can be  hard on you sometimes when you’re reading the book, but all in all it pays off. 

The story is heavy. I had to stop at some points just because I felt so much for the characters. And actually, the thing is that I feel like this is more of Honor’s story than it is Dmitri’s. It is his also, but have you noticed how some paranormal romance books focus a lot more on the hero instead of the heroine? J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood is a good example of this: it features kick-ass females, but it starts and ends with the males. 
But not with this series and especially not this book. Archangel’s Blade is about Honor’s vengeance, Honor’s journey to being fully herself again. Dmitri takes strength from her to final find a peace for himself as well, but it’s Honor who’s the main character that Singh’s telling a story about. And well, sorry about this, but she truly honors the feelings of Honor and handles her delicately but doesn’t treat her as if she’s weak - because Honor is anything but. 

Now, if I were to have a problem, it would perhaps be the ending, just a little. The book is filled with emotional highs and lows, so the happy ending makes you stop. Things aren’t magically fixed, by no means, but the ending is really, really final. As in checkmate-final, writing a period to a sentence. After so much of things not going the way you want them to, when they finally do go, you don’t know what to do with yourself. So in a way it’s the perfect ending, but that’s the feeling it gives me.

Final thoughts: Archangel’s Blade isn’t like its the previous books in the trilogy. It’s grittier, darker and even more personal. It get sunder your skin. It tells the story about two broken people who suddenly, by working towards separate goals but oddly together anyway, heal themselves just a little. Every problem isn’t fixed just like that, by magic, but you see the struggle and how difficult things are. Honor isn’t Elena, but she carries most of the book and Dmitri just delivers the final blow - I’m in love. 


With Love (Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh)

Review of 
Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil...

A vampire has attacked a girls' school - the assault one of sheer vicious madness - and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders. 

The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear. 

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed...

I think that by now my reviews concerning this series should come with a warning: Beware the Fangirling. So, consider yourself warned. 

The last time I felt like this reading a series was with A)the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward and B)Daemonica series by Larissa Ione. I think that those are my top three paranormal romance series, with either Ione’s or this one as number one. (Can’t choose which one.)

By now, we know our characters, we know our world. But still Singh keeps pulling these intricate details from somewhere, and yet each and everyone one of them fits like a glove. It doesn’t fee like you’re being stuffed too full or like a continuity error that the author has just glossed over. Instead it’s as if she’s peeling back layers on a very intricate, detailed world that still remains hidden from us (spoiler: I’ve read all five in the series so far, so this concerns them all).  It’s just really wicked to pick up a book and get in to it with this feeling of “What is she going to reveal this time?” 

The back summary tells of something weird going on in the world and that it affects even Raphael. And still, this one time, the main events of the story felt a little lame - but only because the emotional things that Elena was going through were so much the focus of the story. We’re much deeper in her head than before, I feel and we see her and Raphael get very comfortable and cosy together. It warms my heartstrings. 
Though, some of the main events of the story felt a little like strings that were neatly tied and tangled in the web, but that had gotten a little frayed at the some points. They were explained away a tad too quickly or not touched upon as strongly as I had come to expect from the series. It didn’t bother me with the whole reading experience, but thinking back, I can see that the book suffers a little of the “too many villains in one story” -syndrome. Still, Singh delivers beautifully where another author could have stumbled. 

By no means am I saying this is a bad book, I’m just saying that the previous ones had a bigger mystery and more tension. In this, the bad guys are revealed pretty easily and you just wait out the hows and whys. It’s not bad but comparing it to the others you can see a shift in the tension and story. 
All in all, the book feels much more calmer. Though the bad guys are threatening, we’re not that much in a hurry. We can just relax and sit back and enjoy the ride.

In fact, that point about “what is she going to reveal this time” is exceptionally on point when it comes to this book. This book may not have the same high tension mystery that the previous ones had, but instead we really dig deep into our characters. We’ve pretty much revealed details about Raphael and Elena’s past, but in this one we face them alongside the characters as thing re-surface. It’s a spine-tingling thing to read and I love how many tiny things Singh’s managed to make magical without being too much information that could get boring. 

Raphael remained a strong presence, but while we did get to see slightly softer side to him and got definitely even more relaxed with him, he wasn’t as much of a player in this one. Perhaps because we’re so comfortable with him now that we don’t even question it. In the first and second book it was a little like we didn’t quite know where he stood, but in this one we - and Elena, too - know where his heart stands. 

Part of the reason why Raphael isn’t as “big” is because we’re so deep inside Elena’s head. That’s the feeling I had on top of everything when reading this book and the feeling that I was left with when I’d finished. And because Elena is such a delightful character, that isn’t a problem at all. I really think that even with the archangels and vampires and whatnots, she’s the glue that keeps things together. Point of views may branch out and we’ll see new characters and face new things, but it’ll always come back to Elena. It’s not cliché, it’s not boring, because Elena really carries the series on very capable shoulders. And well, one could argue that it’s actually Singh and her talents that carry the series, but even then, the series is in very capable hands. 

Final thoughts: Singh has everything so perfectly under control and she just keeps delivering with her perfect sentences and absolutely perfect storytelling. The pacing is spot on, the characters remain strong and keep getting more comfortable in their shoes so that we see more and more sides to them. This third book has cemented my love for this series for the rest of eternity. 


Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

No name for this post because I kept searching for it for four hours and my head hurts. Will try again tomorrow. 

Review of 
Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

The prophecies were there but no one listened. Until now. They are the Lords of Deliverance and they have the power to usher in Doomsday.... or prevent it. 

His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny for ever. Not when his own brother plots against him. 

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't - or won't - understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life. 

I adore Ione’s Demonica series and I was actually going to re-read and review them first, but then these arrived so fast and I got super curious to finally read them. And I was afraid that if I read those first, that series would be too fresh on my mind and would affect my feelings about this one. So, I’ll probably mention Demonica a couple of times, but there will be a review about that by itself. 

I do admit, that Demonica starts off far more strongly and it does give you a really good feeling about the series in a whole. Lords of Deliverance starts far more slowly with Eternal Rider and it does have less of a punch. But there is this deep confidence that you can feel in Ione’s writing and I really do commend her on her two series. 

The main big “missing thing” in Eternal Rider is the deep bond between the siblings - which is what Demonica focuses a lot on. Eternal Rider uses much more time explaining things to you instead of showing them unlike in Demonica, where we experience the things. This is probably thanks to Ares, who isn’t that awesome of a narrator: he’s very clinical and straightforward. It does keep up with his character and does help in figuring out who he is, but it doesn’t make him a nice narrator in the beginning. Then, when we get to know him and as he gets to know Cara, he relaxes a bit more and that a little easier on the reader. 
And okay, the siblings do have a strong relationship, but Ares is pretty cool about everything.

Now, our main lady Cara, who is just the sweetest thing ever. No, really. She started off rather scared for the first half of the book and yet, she kicked ass. No really, she was scared but she wanted to find a solution and fix it. I think Cara is a person who carries her emotions on her sleeve, but she’s got a spine of steel. And that is exactly what makes her a really interesting match with Ares, who’s all cool and practical, warrior-strategy, when she’s throwing emotions around but like I said, she kicks back. 
I think her well, trying not to spoil it, so let’s call it “abilities” fall in to a pretty cliché category and with her charm-all the animals thing, but Ione handles it pretty well, so that it doesn’t become boring. 
And Cara is such a better narrator than Ares! She’s the absolute balancing force for him, I love it so much. And I think, out of the two of them, Ares needs Cara more than she needs him. Ares only gives her that first push to her being confident in her “abilities”. But she’s the one who gives him peace, who makes everything worth-while to him. 

Ares, the first Horseman, who would be war. He can be described with one word and that’s warrior. He’s the warrior: all about strategy, keeping yourself unattached and just straight to business. He doesn’t really like emotions, but it isn’t like “Ew, emotions they have cooties”, but more like he doesn’t know how to handle them - they seem to honestly confuse him. And he’s been raised to be the strong one who can handle everything. Emotions were weakness to him. 
And while his narration and point of view is difficult to stomach in the beginning, once you really crack that outer shell, you see the reasons behind everything and it all clears up. He’s such a smart man, used to living the way he does: alone. But then he cares for his servants, who really aren’t servants but his family, though he just calls them servants because the word family scares him. He’s just so adorable, getting all confused when Cara makes him feel and then just becoming putty in her hands. And he admits it. 

The relationship with Ares and Cara was so, so very rough and well, difficult to read in the beginning. There was the obvious tension between them and the obvious attraction, but they were both sort of un-sure around each other and suspecting the other. And while I did not like that at all and had a really hard time reading it, something happens that makes them see each other in a new light and changes their relationship: the way they treat each other. There still remains that uncertainty, but the feelings turn softer and caring. Combined with how they were when they met, I actually ended up liking it - when their relationship changed in front of my eyes, I cheered. Ione proved herself right away, though I doubted her. She handled it brilliantly; two strangers being attracted to each other in a bad situation and then starting to actually care for the person. It was beautiful. 

Eternal Rider is the first in the series and because of that, it’s a little introduction-filled. The action isn’t quite big and explosive as you might expect from a book telling the story of the Horsemen, but it does sped up towards the end. And really, the book seems to relax and get more comfortable in its shoes towards the end. The jokes get more frequent and some old favorites from UG pop up. 

And let me tell you, how brilliantly Ione handles the UG cameos. They start with a small name-drop or a tiny hello, but they’re obviously not the main thing here. The Horsemen and the Apocalypse are still the main focus. And then we see more of our old friends, only to get right back to the new series’ cast. It’s done so wonderfully, not breaking the pace of the story of confusing you from the main theme. 

On that note, let’s take a moment to appreciate (and fangirl over) Ione’s writing in this book (and who we’re kidding in all her books). She manages to balance smart, tight writing with a bit of modern slang terms. She doesn’t over-do it, like I’ve noticed some writers do when they try to write like people speak these days. But no, she handles her descriptions tightly and efficiently and then she practically dances off to some good jokes and modern terms. And it all fits together so perfectly. Adore it so much! 

Final thoughts: By now it’s pretty much settles that I adore Ione’s style of writing and will keep drooling on her books. Eternal Rider is a decent, if a bit slow starting, beginning to a new series that I think will deliver some mean punches. 


Now I Know (The Rising by Kelley Armstrong)

Review of
The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

Maya Delaney is a skin-walker - a supernatural who can "Shift" into the shape of a cougar. But her gift comes with a terrible cost. With every transformation, she risks losing  touch with her human nature - for ever. 

Maya and her friends are on the run from the people who experimented on them and transformed them into supernaturals in the first place. They know they must confront their enemies if they are to have any hope of a future. In order to succeed, Maya will need to use her dangerous, unpredictable powers - but the price of freedom could be too high a price to pay...

Oh, yet another review I've rewritten several times because I wasn't sure if it was good enough. Well, here goes. 

I was super excited at last to get my hands on this book. But I have to say, it wasn’t really what I’d expected.

The book is like a ping pong ball. Weirdly enough my favorite in the series is the previous book, which was so tightly packed and moved fast and was evenly paced. This one bounces around a little more, which sort of makes sense because it is about running from danger and getting thrown around. But it wasn’t always exactly a pleasant read. It did keep me reading, but at times I was feeling a little like things should stop and we should focus on a certain aspect for a little longer. You always want to have longer moments and more details, but this felt like it would have improved the pacing or made things impact more.

And because the Darkest Powers sort of meets up with this series in this book, it makes the two series click a little more but then again, that just makes the differences stand out a little more. The DP’s characters are more “themselves”, fully realized characters that you grab onto immediately. DR’s characters are more thin, but more self-standing. The reason why I’m saying that about the characters is that while DR’s characters are all a part of the story and their own characters, some of the kids are just thrown around when it feels like it, but after three books I don’t know anything about them. 

That could be because of Maya. Her narrative is the biggest difference between her and Chloe. They have a lot of similar qualities, like wanting to do the best thing for everyone. But then, Maya’s more independent, she’s used to being the best and being allowed to go her own way. She’s used to others following her but she’s not quite obnoxious about it, it’s just the way things are for her. She does admit at some points that she isn’t the best and some of her actions toward others weren’t exactly fair. She does what’s best for everyone, but she’s used to doing things her way and knowing the best way to do it. She also uses a lot of explaining in her narration: she goes over them for the reader instead of us witnessing them as she experiences them or thinks about them. It’s quite peculiar and a part of me likes and then again another part of me likes the in-control and taking-control Maya so much that I wish I’d seen more of her doing the things she tells about. 

Now, one of my biggest problems with this book is the relationship between Daniel and Maya. This could be spoilery. But pretty much, the book looks at them with this look of “will they won’t they” and a lot of characters echo that. I mean, the story has been inching towards that for the past two books, but it really picks up in this one. This is just a personal opinion but I so have a problem with “best friends turned lovers” -thing. You really, really have to sell it for me in order for it to work. But I have to admit, Armstrong really does sell it well. I think a re-read will settle this matter for me, but hey. 

The final solution? Feels like it's just a little too easy and goes a little too smoothly. Though, to be honest, both of the series have had a lot of running around and big show-downs like forest fires, helicopter crashes and roofs caving in. And then some general running around. So maybe anything after that just seems a little too smooth and easy. That’s probably my biggest “problem” with the ending: even with the way it is actually ambiguous, it is a happy ending and it comes a little too fast on us. 

And that brings me back to a previous point, about Maya’s narrative style, where she recaps things. The last few parts and epilogue are pretty much just her recapping and explaining things. That got a little heavy after a moment and also really pushed it home that the ending came a little too fast. I would have wanted to see so much more about the characters. Though, that’s always the case with books that we love, isn’t it? We can never have as much of the characters as we’d like. 

But I do have to admit I just adore how these two trilogies work together - they sort of reflect off of each other. In Darkest Powers, the dangers are so much different, because the kids are far less experienced and are completely out of their league. But in Darkness Rising, the kids have almost been trained for this, they actually manage to do stuff that DP's kids never could. And just seeing all of the characters on the same page is pretty wicked. 
The way there is this big, evil puzzle that the books form and how while the puzzle is done even with the other series, without the other series the puzzle is still somehow incomplete. Okay that just sounds complicated. But these trilogies are pretty much each other's opposites. And that's what I like about them. 

I’m afraid that the things I’ve said have made it sound like I didn’t like this book. But that’s not the case. But I liked the other books so much more, that comparing this to - for example - the previous one makes all those things just stand out. I really love the way Armstrong writes, with small details that are important and don’t make things heavy. So really, some parts did feel like something was missing, that something had been dropped out. But I still love this book and especially how the series tied these two series together. 

Final thoughts: No matter what it might sound like I liked this series. The Darkest Powers just might be more of a favorite of mine right now, but this series is definitely worth several re-reads. It didn’t tug on my heartstrings as badly as the other one did, but re-reads might change that. 


The Day Has Come (Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick)

Just a reminder that there will be a post every day of this week! 

Review of 
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

No, she thought. No, please, God, I'm not seeing this. 

Seventeen-year-old Alex is hiking through the wilderness when it happens: an earth-shattering electromagnetic pulse that destroys almost everything.

Survivors are divided between those who have developed a superhuman sense and those who have acquired a taste for human flesh. These flesh-hunters stalk the land: hungry, ruthless and increasingly clever...

Alex meets Tom, a young army veteran, and Ellie, a lost girl. They will fight together and be torn apart, but Alex must face the most difficult question of all: 
In such a vastly changed world, who can you trust? 

A story of high-wire tension, gut-wrenching twist, and burgeoning love, Ashes will leave you breathless.  

Do you have any idea, how many times I’ve rewritten this review? Edited it, looked it over, fretted over it and basically just wondered, is it enough? Is it good enough? Does this review express my love for this book? 
But here it is, after a long wait, enough or not. 

What at first drew to me Ashes was Alex, the main character and obviously, the narrator. For some reason, I kept thinking that this was written in first person POV, though it isn’t. That’s probably because of the detailed way we see the world through her eyes. It’s awesome, because it really is as if you were seeing the world literally through Alex’s eyes. That’s the best way I can describe it: we get her exact reactions and thoughts, as if we’re in her head. Some narrations really sound like somebody is narrating them, but in Ashes, it’s just as if Alex is thinking and then reacting to the world around her and we see it the exact moment it happens. I love it. 

Now, Alex is a fighter, she’s a survivor. She’s tough and while she cares about others, she’s used to fighting only for herself and for her survival. That, and the fact that she’s had to see the nasty and depressing side of life, makes her good at survivor at the end of the world. She’s all about the survival, how to keep going and never to give in. There are points where we see the complicated mix of her caring about others and just trying to survive - because it’s the end of the world, things are rough. And there’s this rough edge to Alex, despite her age that pops up sometimes. Plus, I love how, after being a tough fighter for some time, we also see that it can be a bad thing. 

What I love about Ashes, is that it doesn’t focus on the zombies. In fact, the z-word is noticeably absent from the book. And actually, the zombies in this one aren’t the usual kind of zombies. I adore the way Bick’s done them, but not everyone will necessarily. The first book doesn’t tell you everything about them and I get the feeling there’s a lot more to things than what we find out right now. I think Bick’s really done a good job, considering how many zombie-involving things there are out there. (They are like vampires with that.) 

The gore-factor that often makes me dislike zombie books is completely non-existent. I mean, Bick writes all her scenes with a fervid detail, including all the nasty parts, but I can work with that. It doesn’t bother me, like it sometimes does. There was nothing excessive just because. Instead, it makes the threat of the world that used to be so safe, feel truly threatening. The unknown factors around you that Bick describes, she describes so well that when our narrator tells about tension being in the air, you as a reader, also feel that tension. 

The book focuses more on the how-on-earth-does-one-survive-and-stay-partly-sane -part of the end of the world. It asks some really practical questions about every day life and while that sounds perhaps a little boring, instead Bick makes it interesting and something that the characters really, truly fight for. And that keeps the tension and fast pace going. 

Nothing is sure and even the things they learn, fall apart. I’m sure that this is a factor that is involved in a lot of zombie/end of the world -books, but in Ashes, those are the main things. You’re constantly afraid of a new change. The battles the characters face are more in the manner of inner battles they face, than all-out battles against hordes of zombies. 

But don’t worry, there’s plenty of action. But rather rarely against zombies; there’s just as much to be feared in your fellow humans as there is in cannibalized ex-humans. That’s the part that’s personally for me, always the most painful part in zombie/end of the world -scenarios: how humans turn against humans. And while that’s also something that features in Ashes in several parts - as we don’t know who to trust - and it is quite painful, I just adore how Bick’s done it. It’s heartbreaking, but it just makes the book so good. I seriously had to stop reading several times but I came back again and again. The book hooks you. 

There are, admittedly, some slow parts that don’t quite fit the book’s pace - the other parts were so fast and tension-filled that the slower parts really stood out. I’m not saying they were bad, but they really stood out. 
The writing is excellent. (I feel like I say that a lot.) Like I said before, I really love how deeply we’re in Alex’s head. I adored the way Bick wrote all her action scenes and the emotional ones just gouge at your heartstrings. The action scenes are detailed, but it’s like seeing fast and short glimpses of pictures. The writing flows easily, but it moves the story so fast that when there are really action-filled scenes, it’s as if you’re the one who’s living them. 

There are a lot of unsolved things and lovely details in this apocalyptic world. I love everything Bick’s created, the details about how things came to be and well, we just keep learning more. The way Bick writes things about the how, feels like she’s reading them from a text book. Though, when I was reading this at work, the boys had to point out that some things are impossible, but Bick makes you believe everything. 
Honestly, the details about the zombies, about the how of the apocalypse, about why some people died and some people didn’t. They’re part of the reason why this book stands out so well. And we just keep learning more and we don’t even know if what we’ve learned is true. 

When the ending comes, it comes after some of the slower parts and it’s super fast and surprising. It’s a sucker punch and you don’t really see it coming. At least I don’t think so, because it left me gasping for air. The big puzzle clicks in to place, revealing the big picture and that hooks you. I’m searching for the next book as I’m writing this and I cannot get it fast enough. If you’re reading this book and you like it, you really, really want to get your hands on the next one before you even finish Ashes. 

Final thoughts: Ashes doesn’t fall victim to old gimmicks, but stays true to itself. This is a book that is amazing without big fanfare and I think it should be a bestseller all over the world. Ashes represents a book that I wouldn’t necessarily like, but instead I’m very much in love with it and the beauty of Bick’s writing, plotting and just the way she describes some of the things in the book give me chills. The main character Alex is amazing, a girl who doesn’t seem like much, but who’s a strong survival and will not give up. This book will never let you go, so get ready. (You aren’t ready.)  

PS. The fact that part of the blog post is black instead of the color it's supposed to be is yet another proof that I suck at this technical side of having a blog.