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Archive for January 2010

Review of The Vampire’s Assistant

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The Vamprie's AssistantIt is recommended you read Cirque du Freak first just to know the background information on Darren and Mr Crepsley and the Cirque du Freak show. The majority of the characters do show up from the first one, so it’s a good idea to know who’s who before you start this book.

The Vampire’s Assistant carries right after Cirque du Freak. Darren is now fledgling of Mr Crepsley (well half fledgling) and a very reluctant one at that. He refuses human blood and instead feeds off of animals instead. Darren feels lonely and resentful however, and Mr Crepsley decides it’s time to go back to Cirque du Freak and live with them for a while. Little does Darren know that despite making two new friends, he’s asking for a lot more when he goes back. It all has to do with a vegetarian and a Wolf-Man.

I thought this one was just as good as the first one. It was a quick fast paced read and well written. I liked the descriptions of the “Little People” which reminded me of a real ugly twisted version of munchkins. What was also interesting was the relationship between Mr Crepsley and Darren. Although they dislike each other, they also both realize that they have to work together as well and it’s those times when I think their relationship is great to see. Sometimes when I see them fighting, Darren just acts like as spoiled brat I’m surprise Mr Crepsley puts up with him upto now.

Whether Darren has developed, I’m not sure. There are moments when he still acts like a child (which he is) and then there are times when he has moments of maturity I didn’t like him very much in this novel because of his behavior it seemed almost quick and changeable in temperment. At times I liked him for his humor and ability to have fun despite his circumstances, and other times he just acted like a spoiled selfish brat who needed a good scolding. You don’t really read much about the characters around him, as the book focused a lot more on Darren and his relationships with other characters. I wish I could have read more on Mr Tiny and his little people. They sounded really creepy and I wonder if they return anytime soon in the next novel.

Also missing is Steve. He was such a central figure in the first one, yet not even mentioned in this book. Perhaps he’ll be coming soon in the next few books? I hope so! their next meeting would really prove to be interesting. There were many unanswered questions for me but I realize this is a book with less than 200 pages and you can only fit as much information as you. Besides, it makes you want to carry onto the next book in the series. I will definitely be continuing onto reading this one. The ending wasn’t much of a cliffhanger as it was in the first book, but it was a good one, to close one part of the story in Darren’s life.

Overall a good quick read and a great sequel to Cirque du Freak. I will be reading the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

January 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

Teaser Tuesday Featuring The Vampire’s Assistant

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Today’s teaser is The Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan:

There was something strange about him, something that made Stanley feel uneasy. It might have been the effect of the darkness and shadows, but the boy looked very pale, very thing, very… hungry.

What’s your teaser?

Written by Karoline

January 26, 2010 at 9:30 am

Review of The Summoning

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The SummoningI’ve heard so much hype about this book I finally gave in and decided to give it a try myself. I’d have to say, my fellow book bloggers have never dissapointed me so far. This one was another great read and no regrets listening to them!

The Summoning is about Chloe Saunders, a student at an art school who’s heavily into movies and making them. It wasn’t until one day she starts seeing dead people and her life is turned upside down. Because of her sudden visions of the dead, she’s sent to a special group home for unstable teenagers. Yet she finds there’s more to it than “pyromania” and “schizophrenia”. There’s definately more to it than meets the eye. Chloe soon finds out what the group home is really about and learns more about herself and her friends.

This book was great. I felt myself turning page after page and wanting to read more. Although the beginning wasn’t what I quite expected, it wasn’t such a bad thing and the ending was awesome and I am definitely going to add the sequel to my wishlist. The plot was great from beginning to end. It was well written, clear and had enough teasers, and although naturally all questions weren’t answered some which bugged me the most were so I wasn’t entirely left hanging. This book had a great way of gradually introducing you to the paranormal aspect of the plot, sort of as if you’re Chloe herself and just learning about it with her. I like the way it’s done as it makes it more realistic. The plot is darker than I expected and more serious for a YA book. The paranormal parts, especially when Chloe starts practicing her gift, has a skin crawling creepy effect and it’s definitely well written to give you the goose bumps. The ghosts she sees, are also well done and their descriptions are chilling and menacing.

I’m not that attached to Chloe even though she’s the main character. I found as I read later into the book I suddenly became much more frustrated and I wanted to hit her upside the head for her stupidity at times. I’m surprised Derek has managed to keep his temper in check with Chloe bumbling about sometimes. Although Derek may seem abrasive, I actually like him the most in the book so far. He’s surprisingly mature despite his surly manner and horrible attitude. He seems to be the strongest character, I think in the book. Tori was horrible and I was hoping Chloe would clock her across the face. Perhaps sometime I’ll be satisfied to see Tori in a horrible demise. She’s just an awful person and I hope I never meet anyone like that ever. Chloe does seem to develop through the novel although I don’t think she really matures yet. I think perhaps because she doesn’t really have all the information and facts concerning her and her “condition/gift”. So, she still has room for development which I am looking forward to seeing in the next book.

When I said the beginning wasn’t what I expected, I meant that I expected a lot of paranormal activity to happen. It didn’t. It was gradual, and even then there is bits and parts of it, but not as much as I thought. There’s a lot of “real life” in the book and it adds realism to the plot and it’s a refreshing surprise to read something like this. So it’s not really a criticism, it was just interesting to read and something new to see, I think.

Overall, a wonderful creepy page turner, mix in realistic life scenes and a huge cliffhanger ending, you’ll want more from this series. A lot more.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

January 25, 2010 at 9:39 am

Review of Terra Incognita

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Terra IncognitaAlthough not necessary, you might want to read Medicus before moving onto this one. Medicus does contain background information on the main characters and it might help you and make the characters more “rounded out”. Although you can read this one as a stand alone if you’d like. I enjoyed Medicus myself.

Terra Incognita has our army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso in the Roman occupied region of Britannia, where he can find a little peace and quiet away from the chaos just experienced in the last novel. However, Britiannia isn’t the most quiet place at the moment. First it’s Tilla’s home, and where she originates from with her tribe. Second, her tribe is under the leadership of a mysterious character called the Stag Man who seems to be putting more fuel to a possible rebellion. Then a corpse turns up in an alley and it involves a mad doctor, Tilla’s old flame, and various shady characters of all sorts of types. Ruso then finds himself in the middle of this and it’s upto him to solve this mystery at the possible expense of giving up a growing romance with Tilla.

I sort of found this book to drag through the beginning and middle. Everything seemed to be going slowly and the plot wasn’t really grabbing my attention like the previous book did. I didn’t find it as witty or comical as the last one, although once Ruso’s friend Valens came into the picture, then everything started to lighten up (perhaps Valens is now going to be the official comic relief in this series). It did have some intriguing exciting bits in the beginning, because I was wondering who the Stag Man was and the chaos he was creating throughout the novel. Yet I just felt the plot not moving fast enough and my interest in it was starting to falter a bit. I found myself putting the book down and then coming back to it every so often. Finally I made myself finish it.

I have to say though, the ending sort of made up for the lackluster plot. It seemed all the action was built up towards the end and the intrigue was more obvious too. I have no regrets reading it. I noticed the moment Valens came into the picture, the book started to pick up a little. (Maybe it’s Valen’s job to save the plot). However, character wise, it was nice to see more of Tilla and I love her strength and stubborness. Of all the characters I like her and Valens the most. I think there’s still some work to be done with Ruso. To me he’s a flat character and needs more development. He’s just too two dimensional at the moment for me to really like him yet – at least his sarcasm and wit was still there which provided a bit of “flesh” for this character.

There were some funny parts but not as many as the first, it was a little more serious and darker this time around. It’s a different change as I was expecting another witty mystery. The story certainly could have been shorter.

Overall, it’s not going to stop me from reading the third one. I’ll keep going. The ending has me intrigued again as to what’s going to happen to both Tilla and Ruso. I’m hoping it’s better than this one, as it wasn’t that intriguing or falls short of being a great sequel. Nevertheless it had a good ending that was interesting enough to hopefully get fans to keep reading.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

January 22, 2010 at 9:36 am

Teaser Tuesday Featuring Terra Incognita

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My teaser this week is from Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie:

She did not know whom her prayer had conjured in the yard. But she knew what. As the medicus stumped up the stairs, she whispered, “It is a powerful god.”

Written by Karoline

January 19, 2010 at 9:28 am

Monday Combo 1/18

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Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about tidy reading around people.

When is it inappropriate to read in front of others? Is it ever appropriate?

– Interesting question. I suppose it’s inappropriate to read when people are talking to you. Although my mom used to do that when I was talking to her (however mom was listening. Mom’s have special powers of listening and having eyes in the back of their head – must be a gift they get after having children).

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Library Finds:

I took out the following at the library

The Sanctuary Seeker – Bernard Knight

Jane and the Unpleasantness of Scargrave Manor – Stephanie Barron

Touch the Dark – Karen Chance

Hood – Stephen Lawhead

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So what are your answers for Monday’s Memes? 🙂

Written by Karoline

January 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

Review of Some Like it Hot-Buttered

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Some Like it Hot-ButteredWhile searching through webpages of oodles of titles of cozy mysteries, I came across this one. It interested me, first because it was classified as a cozy mystery, second, the idea of a mystery series surrounding a guy who owns a movie theatre sounds interesting, and third, the cover was kinda quirky, but neat, and the title is bonus eye candy I think.

The story is about theater owner Elliot Freed, a recovering writer (in which his book was converted into film and was horribly done) who collects alimony from his ex-wife (imagine that?!), and with the money made from his book and the alimony has decided to open up a theatre featuring only comedy movies. Things start looking bleak when “the guy in row S, seat 18 was dead, all right” (quote from the first page of the book). Death by poisoned popcorn. Then an employee disappears, pirated DVD’s appear out of nowhere in his theater basement, and there’s quite a number of suspects to investigate. Elliot takes matters into his own hands and tries to head his own kind of investigation despite warnings from police not to interfere, but it’s his movie theatre involved and he’ll do everything to put things right.

The first few pages of the book I was a little hesitant. There were quite a few references to movies I have never heard of or seen before – then again I’m not a movie buff at all. I barely watch them (as I prefer reading) and only will do so once in a while to take a break from reading. However I decided to stick with the book. I have to make my 100 page limit to see if I’m still interested. I was interested sooner than that. It actually got me hooked. Elliot is quirky, sarcastic and witty without being overly silly. The comedy in this mystery is well written and well done. The mystery and intrigue is also well done so there’s a good striking balance between the two. I have to say there were at least two or three parts of the book where I found myself bursting out in giggles because of Elliot’s wit and actions. I’d have to say I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I thought I had the mystery solved in my head – yet I was surprised. It was nothing like I had pictured and it’s good! I didn’t want a predictable outcome of the mystery. I believe I was close to the answer, but not quite as I had thought.

The characters in the book are all right, although the ones that have something to do with Elliot’s personal life weren’t really that outstanding – although I have to say, I liked Elliot’s father (he reminded me a bit of a mix between Seinfeld’s dad and George’s dad from the Seinfeld show) and added more to the comedy, I’d like to see more of him in the next future books. When it comes to Elliot’s love life, it’s funny too as he doesn’t seem to be headed in the right direction with any of the ones he meets except his ex-wife (which for some reason, I didn’t really like her in the book she just didn’t seem to be a great character in my opinion). They both seem to have a very different sort of relationship you wouldn’t find in most divorced couples but perhaps that adds more to the quirkiness of this book.

The criticism I find in this book is the references to movies which I have never seen before and therefore can’t really understand. Yet I’m sure if there’s movie buffs out there that love reading about movies and who know their movie trivia would probably enjoy this book ten times more than I did (not to say I didn’t enjoy reading this! I truly did!). If I knew the movies and understood the references, I would probably be chuckling a lot more than I did while reading. Other than that, there really is nothing else I dislike about this book.

Overall, a wonderful light story with an equal amount of mystery and comedy that makes it a delightful read. This is definitely a series to look into if you’re a cozy mystery fan. If you’re a movie buff, give this book a try as well. Perhaps you’ll be able to identify some of the movies mentioned in this book.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

January 15, 2010 at 10:42 am