5 of 5 stars to ‘Ascend’ by Amanda Hocking


Enchanting end

Wendy thought she still had plenty of time to train and learn the way of the Trylle, but her mother knows she doesn’t. As Elora weakens, she tries to prepare her daughter to become queen. The new queen will not only face the prospect of war, but she will have to choose between her heart and her duty. Can she reconcile the two?

Aahhh! It all makes sense now! I must admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with the turn of events in book two, and the resolution wasn’t quite what I expected in book three, but it was satisfying. I enjoyed that Hocking didn’t go with the expected and she even managed to throw in some relevant societal issues and moral lessons in a fun way.

There was a lot more depth and emotion in this installment. I especially loved seeing the softer side of Elora. Watching Wendy come into her own and realize that she could be self-sufficient, seeing Loki try to be protective and yet understand that Wendy was strong enough to stand alone – these are some of the highlights I particularly enjoyed.

The magic was still there, although with a decidedly darker taint than the first two novels. I struggled with the end a little, but only because of personally preference. I generally like the author to leave a bit to my imagination, but Hocking wrapped up every thread very tightly.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series and love the author’s writing style. I’ll definitely seek out more of her works. I also have to say that I LOVE the covers of these books – they are enchanting and magical!

4 of 5 stars to ‘Torn’ by Amanda Hocking


Kidnapping and love triangle

In the space of a few weeks, Wendy’s life has been turned upside down. She’s discovered that the family she grew up with all her life were never really hers, and the one from which she comes has more secrets and politics than she can stand. To top it all off, she’s fallen in love with her tracker, Finn, who’s strictly off limits, and she’s already been in more than one battle with the Vittra, who are determined to kidnap her. Overwhelmed, Wendy flees to her one constant in life, her brother Matt.

Removed from the protection of her tribe, Wendy becomes easy pickings for the Vittra. But she soon discovers that there is more to the story than her queen mother has told her. And then there is Loki, her captor, the Vittra prince. He is nothing like she expects and Wendy finds herself drawn to him.

Will the Trylle be able to rescue Wendy from the hands of the Vittra? Will Wendy finally get to the bottom of this century long feud between the two tribes?

The magical world of the Trylle has captivated me. I love the powers, abilities, and even the messed up politics of this world that Hocking has created. The characters are believable, strong but with just the right amount of teenage vulnerability.

While I enjoyed this installment, I must admit to a little disappointment. Book one set up so much thrilling passion and conflict between Finn and Wendy, and I expected Hocking to take the stakes up in their forbidden relationship. Book 2, however, doesn’t seem to move their conflict any further. Hocking focuses on the introduction and build up of a connection between Loki and Wendy. While I do find Loki’s character charming and funny, the link between him and Wendy doesn’t seem quite as believable or exciting. There were also certain plot points that seemed out of place or out of character. The whole escape scene seems unlikely in the face of the Vittra’s efforts to kidnap Wendy.

Yet…I still admit to being curious and wanting to read more. What is the cause of this feud? What will happen to the queen? Will Wendy harness her power? Will the love triangle resolve itself and result in a happy ending, or will the character’s sense of duty force them into loveless, passionless decisions? I guess there’s only one way to find out!

5 of 5 stars to ‘Switched’ by Amanda Hocking


Charming, magical fairytale

Wendy Everly has never belonged. Her school mates seem repulsed by her, the teachers pick on her and even her own mother tried to kill her at the age of six. So when the new guy, Finn Holmes takes an interest in her, she’s flattered – and confused. She soon discovers that there is more to his attention than meets the eye. Finn has been sent to find Wendy and bring her home, into a whole new world she never knew she was a part of. It’s a world full of magic, intrigue, danger, forbidden love and politics; a world Wendy’s not so sure she really wants to be a part of.

I’ve had this novel on my Kindle for a while now and wish I’d read it sooner. This is my kind of story. It’s a magical fairytale in a modern setting, with just the right amount of danger, romance and suspense. It’s the kind of story you can really get lost in. The kind of story you dream about.

Finn’s character is intense, yet tempered by duty and diligence. Wendy’s character is less collected, as teenage girls often are, highly emotional, impulsive and yet with a certain level-headed maturity that gets her through confrontations that would have most teens falling apart.

Hocking’s writing is not overly poetic or filled with ambiguous figures of speech. It is simple and neat, showcasing a well-planned and executed story without unnecessarily pretty prose. The plot, while predictable at times, is engaging and leaves you with a rather pleasant aftertaste that begs for more. This is genre writing at it’s best – it’s exactly what you would expect from a young adult series, and yet unique and charming enough to make the author’s name a fixture on your reading list.

I can’t wait to find out more about what’s in store for Wendy and Finn!

3 of 5 stars to “The Death Cure” by James Dashner

The death cure

Fun but vague ending to the series

The trials are over – or are they? WICKED wants to promote the surviving Gladers from guinea pigs to partners in the search to find a cure for the deadly flare. The Gladers are divided with many, Thomas included, struggling to believe that this really is the end. Are WICKED’s promises just another variable in the process and is the cure really within their grasp?

After the build up and intense action of the last two novels, I feel a little let-down with this installment. For at least three quarters of the book, I felt that there was no real purpose behind what the characters are doing. They had no plans and just seemed to be running around wherever chance would take them. The first two books in the series had clear objectives, and the characters James Dashner created were so driven, it felt very out of place to have them just going with the flow.

Some of the plot points also seemed so inconsistent. WICKED is such a technologically advanced entity, yet they don’t have cameras in the rooms and a bunch of kids can overpower an entire battalion of security guards? They don’t go after Thomas, even though they know where he is and they believe that the entire world’s fate depends on him? Some of the scenes also seemed cliched and contrived, especially those scenes with the ‘rat man’. I also felt that the novel lacked proper closure on some key points.

The ending was unexpected but satisfying. I love that Dashner didn’t go with the obvious ending. There was a bit of a moral story in this series, which I enjoyed, and the end of the novel was fast-paced, imaginative and action-packed. Overall, still a fun series.

5 of 5 stars to ‘The Blue Amaryllis’ by Sonia De Leon

The Blue Amaryllis

Truly unique love story

Leia York, grief-stricken after the death of her mother, takes time out from her busy, unsatisfying life to visit a friend, deep in the heart of the Amazon rain-forest. Far away from civilization, the native tribe whom James abides with, live a simple, uncomplicated life, at one with nature and each other. Leia finds herself falling in love with the people and the land more each day. She longs for the peace they share and slowly, begins to discard the trappings of her old life in the dog eat dog westernized world. Somewhere along her journey, Leia finds herself deeply in love with Matis warrior Tanun. The love they share transcends the physical, but the Matis people have strict rules that forbid their own to marry outside of the tribe. Is Leia strong enough to leave her warrior for love?

Once you’ve read as many books as I have, there are very few stories that have truly unique subject matter, but I can honestly say this novel is unlike any I’ve ever read. At the heart of it, this is a love story, but the setting is utterly captivating, adding a richness that is sorely lacking in most modern day romances. The characters, especially Tanun, are beautiful in their honest simplicity. The author has managed to capture the intensity of deep, internal emotions, without resorting to the usual antics of physical desire, and yet there is still passion to motivate and move forward.

I think the reason I love this book so much is because it is something I’ve often thought about myself. Life in this technological century is often hard and stressful. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s dreamed about dropping out of the rat race and ‘going back to the roots’, where family time and nature were more important than money and possessions.

So if you haven’t ready this one yet, be prepared – it will force you to reevaluate your own priorities in life. Any book that forces me to think is a golden bar in my eyes!

5 of 5 stars for ‘The Fiery Cross’ by Diana Gabaldon

The fiery cross

More danger, romance and intrigue

It’s 1771, and Claire and Jamie Fraser know that war is coming. Once, years ago, they had to walk the fine line of politics between the Brits and Scots. Now, they must walk that line again in this new land they have chosen to call home. The stakes are high. Jamie is now responsible for an entire settlement of families, not to mention that of his own blood. Will Jamie and Claire ever find the peace they crave?

Once again, Diana Gabaldon has excelled. Her diverse storytelling skills have enabled her to successfully span months and years in the lives of Claire and Jamie in each novel. Now, Diana slows the story down, focusing on a shorter timespan and delving deeper into the relationships and politics of the characters and times.

The beginning of this novel was funny in a way the other novels haven’t been. Usually, there is so much drama, and very little light-heartedness, so it was a nice change to have a bit of humor in this one. There were two distinct parts where I felt the story had taken a Sherlock Holmes twist and I have to say, that it felt a little forced, unlike Gabaldon’s usually, flowing style. But then I fell into the story again and it didn’t seem to matter. There were the usual, heart-warming moments, some nail-biting twists and dramatic climaxes. I don’t know where Ms Gabaldon finds the inspiration for some of these incidents, but I LOVE reading about them!

This series is possibly one of my favorite of all time. I am addicted to the characters of Claire and Jamie and have loved following them through their adventurous, traumatic lives. Yet I find myself at a crossroads. Carry on the series? It’s never even been a question in my mind – until now. I’m not sure I want to see Jamie Fraser grow old. I think I like the idea of the strong, fierce, Scottish warrior. While I have grown to like Brianna and Roger, I’m not sure I’m invested enough in their story to continue it.

So, I need some good advice from those of you who may have read “A breath of snow and ashes”. Should I continue?