Furyborn: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“You’re just my kind of dangerous.”

cover art for Furyborn by Claire LegrandOnly two people are meant to have power over all seven kinds of elemental magic–a prophesied pair of queens. The Sun Queen will bring light and salvation. Her counterpart, the Blood Queen, will summon an age of ruin and destruction.

Rielle Dardenne should not be able to wield all of the elements. Her uncontrolled magic has already cost Rielle dearly. She isn’t eager to lose more. Terrified she may be marked as the Blood Queen, she hides her power from everyone.

When her best friend Audric, the crown prince, is attacked by assassins Rielle has no choice but to intervene. The kingdom believes Rielle to be one of the queens in the prophecy. But which one? To prove her loyalty and that she is the Sun Queen, Rielle agrees to demonstrate her control and her power by completing seven trials where failure will mean death.

One thousand years later, Queen Rielle is remembered as little more than a legend–a story from when magic and angels were thought to be real. Eliana Ferracora doesn’t have time for stories. Not when it takes all of her energy to keep herself and her family alive.

Eliana isn’t proud to be a collaborator with the invading forces of the Undying Empire. But she doesn’t have time for pride or regret or pity. Not when her work as a bounty hunter is the only thing keeping her mother and her brother Remy safe. Until her mother disappears.

To save her Eliana will have to form a tenuous alliance with a mysterious man called the Wolf and embark on a dangerous mission traveling across her country to distant shores and the center of a conspiracy closer to Eliana than she can imagine.

Two queens with the power to save their world or destroy it. Two young women pushed to desperate lengths for what they love. One war that has spanned millennia and demands that both Rielle and Eliana choose a side in Furyborn (2018) by Claire Legrand.

Furyborn is the dynamic start to Legrand’s Empirium trilogy. This high fantasy novel alternates chapters between Rielle and Eliana bringing both characters closer to dangerous realizations about their world and their own roles in it. Legrand expertly manages both story lines maintaining tension throughout even in the midst of a surfeit of fight scenes.

High action and lush writing create an evocative and sensuous setting with intricate world building. The dual narrative structure makes for a fascinating setup as readers are positioned with more knowledge than almost all of the characters except, perhaps, for Eliana’s perceptive younger brother Remy and my precious Simon.

Legrand’s characters are fully realized, complex, and often flawed. Rielle’s calculated self-preservation and Eliana’s ruthless protection of her family prove that there are no easy choices for these characters who exist in a world where good and evil often walk hand in hand.

Furyborn is a taut, dramatic story filled with action, adventure, and some hints of romance. This masterful series starter is utterly engrossing and sure to leave readers eager for the installment. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Frostblood by Elly Blake, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen, Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Be sure to check back tomorrow to read my exclusive interview with Claire about Furyborn too!

Advertisements

Follower Love Giveaway Hop[CLOSED]

This year I’m participating in the Follower Love Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy (I Am A Reader, Not a Writer). You can view all of the other blogs participating in the hop here.

**THIS GIVEAWAY IS OPEN TO US READERS ONLY **

I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly. I don’t know anything about the book except that I got it at BEA and the cover is pretty.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below (with a valid email in the email form field) telling me why you’re excited to read this book.

There are no extra entries for this giveaway but if you wanted to follow the blog, subscribe, or just tweet/post about the giveaway that would be awesome!

This giveaway will run until February 14, 2012 when a winner will be selected via random number generator.

 

If I do not hear from the winner by February 15, 2012 I will have to pick a new winner.

UPDATE: Congrats to the winner: Emily L!

Clockwork Prince: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra ClareOnly in London a short time, Tessa Gray’s world has already been turned upside by her brother’s betrayal and the discovery of her own strange ability. With the help of her unlikely Shadowhunter friends, Tessa has managed to make some order from the chaos of lies and mystery that surrounds her.

That order proves tenuous when rival Shadowhunters seek to displace Charlotte and her husband as heads of the London Institute. With Charlotte’s position in doubt, so too is Tessa’s place in the only home she has known since leaving New York City. If Charlotte can find the Magister, the villain cloaked in secrecy who wants to use Tessa’s powers in his mission to destroy all Shadowhunters, her position will be secured. But what if she can’t?

As Tessa helps in the search for the Magister, her future place in London is not the only dilemma presented to her. Why is Jessamine sneaking off so often? What madness leads Will to move so violently between passion and cruelty? Why does her heart still ache so much just to see him? And what of Jem, Tessa’s quiet, steadfast companion in all of this chaos?

With so many secrets, it is unclear which truths should be told and which should remain hidden in Clockwork Prince (2011) by Cassandra Clare.

Clockwork Prince is the second book in Clare’s Infernal Devices series, preceded by Clockwork Angel. This trilogy is a companion to Clare’s Mortal Instruments series which begins with City of Bones.

It’s hard to review books that are part of a series because, particularly in the case of this book, you cannot read just one book. Things are even more complicated when the series ties back to a completely different, longer, series.

That said, if the idea of a quasi-steampunk Victorian London where the descendants of angels fight monsters (even while befriending one of those “monsters” who happens to be a warlock) this is the series for you. But don’t start here. Go read Clockwork Angel first then come back to read this review.

Clockwork Prince is simultaneously compelling and painfully frustrating. Many questions from the first book (particularly about Will’s . . . affliction) are answered. Some of the answers are satisfying and add to the story. Some of them add to the general annoyance I had while reading the book.

Neither being or knowing the author, I’m not really qualified to say what each character would or would not do. BUT, for this one reader, it felt a lot like every single character walked through the book doing the wrong things. Worse, they seemed to be doing them for all the wrong reasons. Will all be resolved to my satisfaction in book three? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Finding the answer to that question (aside from my genuine fondness for these characters and this series) is enough to guarantee I will eagerly await the release of Clockwork Princess in 2013.

Clare’s writing remains top-notch here. While the larger plot does take a back seat to character development, Clockwork Prince sets readers up for what is sure to be a stunning conclusion to a clever trilogy.

Possible Pairings: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Sabriel by Garth Nix,  Snowfall by K. M. Peyton, These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorBlack hand-prints are appearing on doors all over the world, burned there as if by magic by strange soldiers with winged shadows.

In a dark shop that exists outside the realm of conventional doors, a Devil’s supply of teeth is growing dangerously low.

And on the streets of Prague an art student named Karou is about to learn the real cost of a wish and all of the secrets of her murky past–more, perhaps, than she wants to know in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) by Laini Taylor.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in a trilogy (which is lucky since the book actually ends with “to be continued”). It also has a pretty website with information about the book, the characters and the world.

Broken into four parts, this book has an interesting structure. Each section begins with a short phrase that almost tells readers what to expect even if what follows is never exactly what was expected. For instance, the book begins with “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love, it did not end well.” Yet the story still entices and much remains to be revealed before the novel is over.

The world Taylor creates in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is stunning in both its scope and its execution. In addition to evoking Karou’s mystical life in Prague complete with a church that serves goulash on coffin tables, Taylor weaves an intricate story of angels and devils replete with history, myths and one very bloody war.

Taylor artfully tells at least three stories in this one book as the focus shifts between angels and devils, Karou’s present, and the near past. Though names and details come very fast in the beginning the density of the story eventually lessens as events resolve themselves into one clear, related narrative. At least until the shocking conclusion that leaves things up in the air in a very literal sense until the next book is available.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a delightfully original addition to the ever-growing world of literature about angels (and devils) and a fine example of what the landscape of a fantasy should look like. A must read for fans of urban fantasy and high fantasy alike.

Possible Pairings: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The Beautiful and the Cursed by Paige Morgan, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Exclusive Bonus Content: I read this book back to back with another fantasy. Usually that’s not a problem for me except that this other fantasy was The Girl of Fire and Thorns which, you will agree, has a very similar title. So now I have to really think before saying either title lest I conflate the two.

City of Fallen Angels: A (Rapid Fire) Review

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (2011)

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra ClareThis book is the fourth in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. The remaining books will be released alternating with Clare’s next two books for the Infernal Devices series. (She is writing them at the same time so the books end up referring to each other.)

When I first heard about Clare’s plans to extend the series I have to admit I was a bit worried. City of Glass tied everything up quite nicely and I was uncertain about continuing the story of those characters–what more was there to say?

On the one hand Clare brings in several new characters into this story (she also expands the roles of some peripheral characters from the first cycle of Mortal Instruments books). On the other hand, the plot felt familiar in spite of a new villain and sinister happenings in New York City. Clary and Jace still can’t be together, Simon is still having trouble with the ladies, Isabelle is still inscrutable when it comes to her heart, Alec and Magnus are still having their own problems, and yes the Seelie Queen is still asking obnoxious questions and causing trouble.

These familiar threads combined with a large amount of summary in the beginning of the story made City of Fallen Angels drag in the beginning. Being a New York Times bestseller, I can see how Clare would want to make the series accessible to new readers or readers who finished the first cycle a while ago. On the other hand, this is the first book in the series and at times it felt like every key plot point from earlier books was rehashed here (and that’s a lot of old plot points). Possibly for this reason the story didn’t really feel like it picked up until page 200 or so (a little less than halfway into the story).

I enjoy Clare’s writing and love the world and characters she created in her first trilogy. This start to a second trilogy didn’t grab me the way those books did. It often felt more like a setup for a story to be found in books 5 and 6 rather than a story unto itself. That said, I remain a fan of Clare’s anxiously awaiting Clockwork Prince and, later, know I will pick up the next Mortal Instruments books when they are released.

Unearthly: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Unearthly by Cynthia HandClara Gardner is part angel. Not a big part, but enough to make everything in her life different. She is smarter, stronger, faster than regular humans (and possibly prettier–at least until an unfortunate run-in with some hair dye). She also has a purpose–a reason for being, a task she was put on this earth to complete.

A task that moves Clara, her younger brother, and their mother to the wilds of Wyoming.

This is what Clara knows about her purpose: There’s a boy, there’s a fire, and in the end there is a crushing grief.

The more time she spends in Wyoming and the closer she gets to fulfilling her purpose, the more Clara wonders if this is all about the wrong boy. She knows her purpose is something important. She knows she should just follow the rules. But her heart might not let her in Unearthly (2011) by Cynthia Hand.

I’m not sure I can adequately explain how much I love this book, but I will try.

Unearthly is the angel book I’ve been waiting for.

In a lot of ways, it’s the paranormal romance I’ve been waiting for.

Clara is a strong character. She has her ups and downs but at the end of the day, Clara is strong, capable and heroic. She’s also independent, questioning her place as an angel blood and–more dangerously–the entire meaning of her purpose. In short, she’s everything I always hope for in a Chick Lit Wednesday heroine.

The other characters in the book are just as charming and delightful*. Even though it’s a fantasy and a paranormal romance besides, Unearthly feels deeply authentic. The characters are well-developed and feel like real people.

Hand’s vision of angels stays true to some traditional lore without being too religious or unoriginal. Her interpretation of angels in clever and sharp. The first in a trilogy, Unearthly offers the perfect mix of set up, closure and unanswered questions to create a gripping to start to what I’m sure will be a stunning trilogy.

This book was won from @pitchdarkbooks through a Twitter giveaway.

Possible Pairings: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

*Can I just take a moment to say how much I love Tucker Avery? He joins Alan Ryves (from Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy) and Sam Imura (from Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin) in the very exclusive Literary Guys I Wish Were Real Club.

Exclusive Bonus Content: Let me say again that this is the angel book I’ve been waiting for. I had my doubts about the angel genre in general after stumbling through Hush, Hush and Halo. This book really restored my interest in the genre. The tone, structure reminded me a lot of Paranormalcy, another book that disappointed me. Aside from being maybe the perfect angel book Unearthly is what I was looking for but didn’t not find in Paranormalcy. Oh, and I also love the cover for this book! If you can’t tell I’m even more excited about Unearthly after reading it than I was before. You should all go and read it right now.

Hush, Hush: A (Rapid Fire) Review

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (2009)

Hush, Hush by Becca FitzpatrickI just couldn’t get into this book, I wanted to but it just wasn’t happening.

Mostly it’s my fault: I’m burnt out on paranormal romances and I have my own problems with angel stories.

But it’s also a little bit the books fault because I’m tired of books with smart, generally reasonable, heroines who seem to completely lose their minds and fall for not only a dangerous guy who spells trouble with a capital T (no, really, Nora says that in the book; his smile spells trouble), but a dangerous guy who spells trouble and starts off by acting like a complete jerk to her. The idea of a girl not being attracted to any of the local boys only to become attracted to an outsider jerk is troubling and problematic on many levels outside of the realm of this actual story. But getting back to Hush, Hush it was just kind of annoying.

Aside from that, and again this is something I should have known already, books about angels are necessarily religious because they borrow (duh) from biblical mythology and lore. Which is fine. But when you are not religious and don’t have that foundation it tends to make for a problematic reading experience. I had similar problems with Halo by Alexandra Adornetto.

Problems aside, the writing here feels solid. There’s suspense, action, romance (obviously and albeit problematically). Nora isn’t completely annoying (except for the whole falling for a jerk thing), the book will have appeal–just not for me.

The book design (aptly done by Lucy Ruth Cummins is also worth mentioning. I don’t love the cover art because it’s a bit, well, scary. But the fonts on the cover and in the book are very attractive*. The book pages feature a reverse design with the title and author name at the bottom with the page numbers instead of the top which also made things interesting.

*I have no idea which is which but if anyone cares the fonts used in the book are Seria, Lunix and Aviano.