4 of 5 stars to ‘Torn’ by Amanda Hocking

Torn

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 ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in amber

Epic tale

Claire Randall has a secret to tell her daughter. Twenty years after she mysteriously re-appeared at the stones of Craigh na dun, she returns with her grown daughter to Scotland to reveal the stunning truth behind her disappearance.

Diana Gabaldon is a firm contender for the very top spot on my favorite authors list. The tale of Claire and James Fraser has everything you could wish for in a story: honor, romance, war, death, intrigue, magic, deception, history and more.

I feel as though I have been dragged into seventeenth century Scotland, and the accuracy with which Diana describes life in these times, makes me confident that I might survive it together with Claire Fraser. The emotion and graphic scenes are so well written, it’s impossible not to rise with Claire on the wings of hope, and sink with the Scots to the depths of despair.

Diana’s use of different point of views to segregate time was particularly effective in this novel. Although I love her first person point of view for Claire, the use of the third person POV at certain points in the story definitely helped me to identify the cut in timelines, provided a breath from the intense emotional roller-coaster of Claire’s adventures and gave a deeper insight into some of the peripheral characters that I feel certain will play a larger role in books to follow.

As a history lover, I couldn’t have asked for a more down to earth, graphic depiction of the Jacobite rising. As a romantic, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more stirring account of true love that transcends not only centuries, but the day to day hardships and monotony of life and loss.

Rare is the author who can maintain pace and interest in such a thick, epic tale, but Gabaldon does it with ease. I am completely, utterly in love with this sweeping series and can’t wait to get my hands on Voyager!

James Fraser quote

5 of 5 stars for ‘Heir of Fire’ by Sarah J Maas

Heir of Fire

Emotional journey

Chaol thought he was protecting Celaena by suggesting the King send his champion to Wendlyn to dispatch the royal family. But that was before he had unravelled the riddle she left about her true identity. Never did he imagine that the woman he loved would turn out to be the single greatest threat to the King he is sworn to protect.

Celaena arrives in Wendlyn with one goal in mind: to avenge the death of her friend. She may be the Kings champion, feared and revered, but this side of the ocean, she’s way out of her depth. Riddled with guilt and self-loathing at her sins and failures, Celaena must start at the bottom of the ladder again, to find herself and prove worthy of the title she has long ago given up hope of fulfilling.

The Throne of Glass series has it all: magic, romance, adventure, horror, tragedy…and now Heir of Fire has added something else to up the stakes in this, one of my favorite series of all time. Friendship. What a refreshing addition this is. The development of this new relationship that starts out teeming with conflict, is deep and soulful and matures Celaena’s character in wonderful ways.

The introduction of the witches was another gem in this installment. Ms Maas has done away with the stereotypes of these creatures, and created a whole new species that is a study in ambiguity. They are cruel, cunning and evil – or are they?

There were many exciting action moments, some devastating moments of betrayal and some tender moments too, but this novel was really more about the emotional journey of Celaena and her rediscovery and acceptance of herself. I can’t wait to see what happens next.