Hi, my name is Dragana, and I’m a book-o-holic. My goal in life is to read all the speculative fiction novels in the world. (or at least try) :)
You can also find me on: Bookworm Dreams Blog
Mention of fire in the title of Going Down in Flames got my dragon detection sense tingling. Reading the summary confirmed my hunch – there will be dragons in this book. In fact heroine Bryn is a dragon-shifter.Urban fantasy with dragons? You know I had to read it!
Going Down in Flames start with an usual young adult novel plot: Bryn is stalked by some creepy (but handsome) guy and then she discovers that she is special and has hidden powers. I must admit, I was a little bit turned down in the beginning because it all sounded familiar. But soon I forgot to complain about the cliches because I got immersed into the interesting world of dragon-shifters.
Being a dragon-shifter has a lot of advantages:
BUT, there are downsides too:
Acid surged from her stomach and shot up her throat, burning her esophagus. Pressure built in her chest. She coughed. Her lungs constricted. She cleared her throat and opened her mouth to speak. Flames exploded out of her mouth and shot across the room, setting the kitchen curtains on fire.
Blowing fire does not sound like a pleasant experience. More like a bad case of heartburn.
Chris Cannon invented a world of modern dragons that is intriguing and very complex. Dragon-shifters have different powers based on their color, are divided in clans and have strict rules for everything (even dating and marriage). And since our heroine is new to the dragon world, we get to be acquainted with it along with her. I know it’s a cliche, but this is still one of the best ways to do world-building. Something new appears and Bryn and you will exclaim together: “Wow, what’s that?”
Another aspect of Going Down in Flames I liked is Bryn’s friendship with Clint and Ivy. Clint was especially funny and full of puns. It reminded me of my high school buddies, friendly teasing and adventures we had together. Happy times! *sigh* I’m not saying that being married and having a baby is not fun. Especially my loving husband – he’s the best. (Bear with me, he’s probably the only person who reads all of my blog posts. I gotta keep my audience.)
One big flaw of Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon that I must point out is that it’s not a standalone novel. I’m guessing it’s a first book in a series, because it ends in a big cliffhanger. I wish there was an info about this on cover or book title page, I would have been a little bit less surprised.
If you like young adult urban fantasy novels set in boarding school with dragons then you should check out Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon. It’s fun and easy to read – perfect for the summer. There might be a couple of usual cliches in the plot and heroine is sometimes too hot-tempered to think rationally, but it’s still quick and entertaining read.
Looking for something similar?
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I mostly use eReaders but this is too funny not to share. :)
After reading Gameboard of the Gods you could say I was looking for a way off an Age of X series ship. But before jumping overboard I decided to give it another chance and read the sequel The Immortal Crown.
Religious sect inspector Dr. Justin March and his bodyguard super-soldier Mae Koskinen are now working well as a team. But RUNA has new challenges for them - an assignment to be part of diplomatic mission to Arcadia, super-religious neighboring country, which is described with words: “Sit back, get comfortable, and forget everything you know about civility.”
Meanwhile, back home in RUNA, Tessa is trying to adapt to school and find an internship in some newspaper…
First question that anyone will ask you when you read a sequel to a series, maybe even before did you like it, is: Was it better? Worse? I’ll divide my comments into section similar to those in my review of Gameboard of the Gods.
The Characters: The situation is the same. There are “surprising streaks of nobility in Justin that popped out in what was otherwise a sea of selfishness”, but despite the facts that he was sober and surprisingly chaste I still didn’t like him. Good new is that ravens Horatio and Magnus are still there and full of ‘helpful’ statements.Mae and I still do not click. And chapters from Tessa‘s POV, as always, just add to the chunk-ability of this book. I guess it’s all going to tie together in the end but for now events that happen to Tessa do not influence Justin or Mae. Hey, at least this time it was interesting and I was intrigued to find out how her internship is going to pan out.
The Romance: Going two steps backward and one step forward. There was little progress. And big plus is that finally Justin and Mae stopped sleeping with other people and are really trying to understand their feelings.
The World Building: While some facts about history of RUNA are still unclear to me, new elements of the future Earth Richelle Mead imagined are introduced to us much better in The Immortal Crown. Maybe I didn’t like nothing about Arcadia, but I understood what happened there and how the society turned up that way.
Mythology: Something is cooking, but there are no more obvious paranormal events here than inGameboard of the Gods. But I didn’t expect much, so I was not disappointed (it’s easier for a book to satisfy us when our expectations are low lol).
So, in the end, I definitely enjoyed The Immortal Crown more than Gameboard of the Gods. Imagine my surprise.
What did I like?
They were few and far between, but in moments like these, there was no animosity. A fierce solidarity burned between them, one that united them in a single purpose and understanding.
Lucian gave him a long, scrutinizing look. “How do you do that? How can you talk people into anything? Do you think of this stuff in advance, or does it happen on the spot?”
“Are you impressed?” asked Justin.
“Kind of terrified, actually. But glad you’re not in politics.”
Perhaps now would be a good time to ask if he’d like to learn about Odin, said Horatio. You’re on a roll.
What rubbed me the wrong way?
Gameboard of the Gods was cybersome start to a new series by Richelle Mead. There was hope that it will be better but… Should you waste your precious time and read The Immortal Crown? My answer is yes. If you were on a fence like me, there is a big chance that you will join Age of X team. The Immortal Crown is full of suspense & human drama and with shocking ending – it will leave you yearning for a sequel.
|Fantasy –||Fantasy –||YA Fantasy –||YA Mermaids –||MG Steampunk –|
|Horror –||Horror –||Horror –||YA SF –||PNR –|
|Mythology –||Historical –||Historical –||YA Historical –||YA Contemp –|
The most beautiful (and the only) thing about this book I liked is foreword written by author and this inspiring quote:
Life is scary and dreams get broken. This book is for anyone brave enough to put the pieces back together again.
As for the novel Before We Fall, saying that Dominic and I didn’t ‘click’ would be an understatement. He was repulsive to me from the beginning of first chapter, which was narrated by him, when he declared:
I like to watch. I know that I shouldn’t, but I don’t really give a shit. I like the flash of skin, the sweaty limbs, the sex smells, the fucking…
Dominic is crude and vulgar. He presents himself as jaded individual who have “seen pretty much everything once and have done it twice” and we also get hints about wounds and scars on his heart from past relationship. So that’s why now Dominic does not want to be close to people anymore and he does not have sex. That lamest excuse ever. I checked the definition on wikipedia and he had all forms of penetrative sexual intercourse described in the second sentence.
Courtney Cole tried to present to us Jacey as strong heroine who knows her mind but I didn’t like her any more than Dominic. Let’s start from the fact that she never wears underwear. Which normal girl does that (except in porno movies)?
And when Jacey goes through Dominic’s things, finds letters and reads them? And then she never tells him! I was so mad! To me that was intruding into privacy of another person, no matter if they are in a relationship or not. I could never approve reading of correspondence of another person no matter if it’s sms, emails or letters. But in Before We Fall it turns out that it helped them in their relationship, so it’s never presented as a bad thing.
I also had problem how bdsm was presented. Like something wrong that only attracts people with psychological problems: “they do not have anything healthy or real, so they come here to get debased”. Sex on the other hand is presented as solution to every problem in a relationship.
To make this review short and rant-free: I did not like anything about this book. I do not know why I wasted my precious time and energy and read the whole thing. I guess I hoped that there will be some great twist in the end that will make it worth my time. But epilogue was pointless and totally unnecessary. I’m not sure if I will ever read anything by Courtney Cole again, her writing style definitely didn’t suit me.
Before We Fall is contemporary romance novel that will not suit everyone’s taste. Characters use vulgar language, are judgmental and have weird logic and moral code. But if the main thing you want from book is a lot of sex and poor-little-beautiful-misunderstood-rich-boy hero, then you might enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
Rachel’s sister Kirsten is engaged to the greatest scumbag on planet Earth IRHO (in Rachel’s humble opinion). The problem is - Kirsten refuses to see it. Desperate Rachel will stop at nothing to save Kirsten from making the biggest mistake of her life, even blackmailing a vampire to help.
Rachel should be shy computer geek. I use the word should since I never saw evidence of this fact, except that writer told us so. Rachel is sure quick to jump and use the opportunity to blackmail a vampire. What should I do if I accidentally ran across a vampire feeding on another human? Vampire, a paranormal creature, that I though existed only in fiction? Scream and run like hell in opposite direction.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
“That’s exactly what a vampire about to hurt me would say.”
“Touche. But I’m really not.”
“Not a vampire?”
“Not going to hurt you,” he corrected.
Well, lucky for Rachel, Charles is a “friendly local vampire” (blame him for the lousy and inaccurate pun, I am only quoting). And Charles is here to investigate if Brent (Kirsten’s fiance) is blackmailing his brother’s girlfriend Alice (Charles’ brother not Brent’s brother). Honestly, retelling this book is similar to explaining a plot of some telenovela.
The one thing that could redeem Don’t Blackmail the Vampire was good love story. But everything between Rachel and Charles was familiar cliche. There is instant attraction and lust between them. The sex is fantastic and we are subjected to a looooooong descriptions of it (more than 30% of this short book). And, in a couple of days, >BANG< the-one-and-only-true-love!
Covet is an imprint of Entangled publishing that specializes in new genre, a mix of category romance and paranormal. I was intrigued how this is going to turn out. It’s been raining a lot last couple of days and I was looking for warm, fluffy book, but sadly Don’t Blackmail the Vampire missed its mark with me.
Here are formulas used to write Don’t Blackmail the Vampire:
paranormal romance – world building + ALL the cliches
category romance + add word vampire when mentioning hero + references to blood and biting, especially if sexual tension is high
There is not even an attempt to explain any history behind vampires their customs etc. The important fact is they are here and they are super sexy.
Blackmailing anyone should be risky and vampires even more so. Although headline hints of danger and intrigue, Don’t Blackmail the Vampire was mostly boring and full of cliches. This marriage of category romance and paranormal genre didn’t work out for me.
If you are turned on with a fantasy of having a vampire for a lover, you might enjoy Don’t Blackmail the Vampire or if you enjoy reading category romance and are willing to overlook paranormal elements. But fans of paranormal romance who would like to read really good love story featuring vampire should better go with Black Dagger Brotherhood series or Night Huntress series.
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Poison Dance is a novella set in the same world as a Livia Blackburne’s novel Midnight Thief. For all young adult fantasy fans eagerly waiting for Midnight Thief to be published in July 2014, Poison Dance is a perfect opportunity to get a sample of the world and characters they are going to meet.
Set in a medieval-like fantasy world, Poison Dance is a story about an assassin James and a dancer Thalia, who offers him help to escape from Assassin’s Guild if he trains her to kill a noble. While the training gets them to know each other better, slow-burning romance stats to develop, but Thalia’s inability to forget about vengeance might cost them their happiness…
For a novella, Poison Dance gives an an unexpected good back-story for James and Thalia so we can understand motives for their actions. Also, world building is very good, focused on just the facts we need to understand the story better. I rarely see novella that is this good, in fact many novels have less world building and characterisation.
One thing that adds to the medieval atmosphere in Poison Dance is use of some archaic words and sometimes strange building of sentences. Sadly, this effort was wasted on me, since I was only annoyed by it. I can not say for sure if this was the reason why I felt emotionally distanced from the characters or if it would have happened anyway.
How many pages does it take for an author to display his talent? For Livia Blackburne it only took about 50 pages or so. I can not wait to see if her debut novel Midnight Thief will have the same good characterisation, world-building and interesting characters.
BTW Poison Dance is currently FREE ebook for Kindle on Amazon, so it’s a perfect chance to grab it and check out what am I talking about.
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the author in exchange for a honest review.
When 2013 was at the end and various websites published the lists of most anticipated fantasy books in 2014, The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley was on every one of them. I dare you to find the one without it! :) Also, those lucky bloggers who got early review copies sang praises and showered it with 5 star rating. So when the moment came for me to read The Emperor’s Blades, I must admit I was afraid: “Will I like it? Please, God, I don’t want to be a black sheep again..”
The Emperor’s Blades follows the lives of three main characters, scattered across the empire of Annur. The one thing they have in common is that they are the children of the current emperor. The event that creates the big turmoil in their lives and starts the plot is that the emperor is murdered.
Princes Kaden and Valyn I loved from the start, although it was not clear to me in the beginning why heirs to the royal throne are educated by secluded monks or assassins. Princess Adare, who lived at the capital, had the usual problems of girl in power – men not taking her seriously. Adare was much less developed and it took a lot of time until she wormed her way into my heart (practically at the very end of the book).
While writing about universal subject like grief for lost parent and self-doubt if we are fit for the tough job that await us, Brian Staveley creates for us a thrilling tale about revenge, conspiracies, magic and even a bit of romance. Our heroes will have to learn more about themselves and how to be a good leader, either the hard way or listening to their father’s advice .
From some forgotten corner of his mind, his father’s words came back to him, firm and uncompromising: “You and Kaden will both be leaders someday, and when you are, remember this: Leadership isn’t just about giving orders. A fool can give orders. A leader listens. He changes his mind. He acknowledges mistakes.”
I especially liked the moment when the heirs to the throne start to realize all the flaws in the current political structure of the empire. And that although you try to do what’s good for the people, if you do not give them free choice, you are still a despot. With all big revelations that happened in the end, I can not wait to read the sequel and see if they will continue down the old, known path or if they will choose the new one.
The Emperor’s Blades maybe didn’t bring anything new to the fantasy genre, but it definitely used all the good elements and had an interesting story, easy-to-read writing style and realistic, complex characters. Fans of epic fantasy novels featuring conspiracies and fighting for the throne will enjoy reading it.
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau was definitely one of the top ten books I have read in 2013 and, without a doubt, the best ya dystopian novel. The Testing had frighteningly possible future world with smart realistic characters, likable heroine and cute friends to lovers love story.
Independent Study, as a sequel to The Testing, introduces us to the life on college in the Commonwealth described trough the narration of Cia. Connection I felt to Cia in The Testing, was quickly restored and, again, I was admiring her and cheering for her every step of the way. Cia is smart, resourceful, fair and geek – everything a good heroine in my opinion should be. And she’s so realistic – not always perfect, sometimes doubts herself, but never boring and determined to succeed.
I don’t know if I am ready to be a leader or if I can stop the war that threatens all I love, but as I hurry up to my rooms and close the door behind me, I know I will do everything to keep the hope out of our country and those who struggled for it alive.
Since the testing for University was so deadly, I kinda expected that now the focus will be on studying and developing talents in the best candidates that were picked. But no, strangely, weird practice of exams that can have more serious consequences than failing the subject, continues. You wonder if they are even going to stop or there can be only one student/future leader left?
Surprisingly, I (again) believed in the whole concept of killing of the weakest candidates. Government officials and Cia have some great explanations about leadership and what’s expected from leaders. Here are just a couple of my favorite quotes about this subject:
Because sometimes the best leaders are the ones who have no interest in leading. Those are often the ones who are most interested in doing what is right, not what is popular.
Those who depend fully on another person’s knowledge to decide what is possible are easily manipulated. The most effective leaders utilize experts from all fields, but rely on none when it comes to making a decision.
Leaders – reals leaders – must think of others before themselves. They need to consider the consequences of their actions and only sacrifice lives when the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few.
Although, the plot of Independent Study was not much different than The Testing, as I expected, still it was thrilling ride full of action, tough decision and surprises. I am eagerly waiting for Graduation Day!
In The Testing series, Joelle Charbonneau offers us a glorification of hard work, compassion and good leadership. For all young adult dystopian fans who like their heroines smart, resourceful and fighting against government, this is a must read!
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a honest review.
What makes a book unique? For me it’s unusual structure of the book or unorthodox protagonist/narrator or when author takes an usual topic or genre and blows my mind. And here are the books that fit these criteria…
Without any doubt, I can already say that Stolen Songbird will end up on my and many other lists of best novels for young adults published in 2014. Stolen Songbird is an example is how it looks when a team of professionals works on a book: great writing, editing & design. What did I like? The list is mile long:
I wouldn’t lie down and die, but neither would I give up on obtaining my liberty, I would live each day and fight for what mattered most: my freedom.
He looked like Prince Charming from the fairytales, except for one thing: Prince Charming was human, and the boy standing in front of me was decidedly not. His pale skin was too flawless, his motions too smooth and controlled.
The biggest flaw of this book is the summary – it reveals too much. A lot of books published by Strange Chemistry suffer from this problem and Stolen Songbird has it too. I made a mistake and read the summary before reading the book, so I blame it as a reason why I just liked it very much. If some events and twists in plot were not already known to me, Stolen Songbird would have blown my mind.
Stolen Songbird is one of those rare occurrences when the promo description from publisher does not lie. They recommend it “for those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling” and I can only agree that Stolen Songbird has all the best elements from these books: intricate character development and cute slow building romance from Seraphina mixing it up with action and political intrigue from Graceling. So fans of ya fantasy, be brave, don’t be scared by number of pages, it will be worth your time.
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.