Monday, March 28, 2011

Recipe Books with an agenda ...

Maybe two or three years ago, I was at the beach with my family down in Ocean City, Maryland and as was usual for every one of our trips there - there was a day of non-stop rain. Usually on this day, the fam and I run off to the shops and check out the awesome selection that is to be found in America. And then we stop by Walmart, usually because - as there are three of us girls - we run out of hairspray.

On this particular trip I passed by the books section and discovered:

I wanted it badly then, but I had ten books in my suitcase already, so I tucked it away in the back of my mind and kept an eye out for it to buy later. Later came in the form of a trip to the Paperback Trade Inn in Troy Michigan, a place me and the girlfriends go from time to time to restock, as it were. There among the shelves was the paperback:

So, of course, I bought it.
And then I decided I would read it.
And here, my friends, is the review:


A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history - the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.
The book opens on a terrible night, where a young girl is sick in bed, her father is grieving for his daughter and his dead wife, and through the rain comes a young woman who brings with her some sort of soup ...

I am familiar with the Salem trials, as much as anyone who has never had the chance to visit Salem can be, anyways. It was a time of rampant insanity, if you ask me - but then, I am partial to the LSD theory of it all (I like thinking humans are good).

Anyways, it doesn't matter how much you know about the witch trials - just know they happened. In Salem. In 1692 ... and a little bit before and after in other parts, but essentially that's the key date. Some people - including an ancestor of the author - survived. Some others - also including an ancestor of the author - did not.

Katherine Howe is an MA History student, and as a HBA HIstory student, I could tell that right away - I saw the tendrils of working thesis in her work, and it thrilled me to realize I was reading things that were essentially the debates and conversations I remember from my university days. She is not entirely biased - she leaves space for belief in the other way of things, but she is very tight with the way she weaves the story. So much so, that you realize it is not the story that ultimately matters, not so much - it is the bonds between the characters, the attitudes and greivances, wants and motivations of the characters she writes that make the book a wholley different type of beast.

Particularly with the women - Connie is a great character. She's flawed, hopelessly flawed - stuck in her academic world, she feels safe and in control when researching and postulating on the past, but troubled and almost embarrassed by the present. She is not very knowledgeable about her own past, and seems to write it off whenever she can. But she is smart and sharp, and she knows how to get what she wants. And she exists in a post-second wave feminism world, and yet she struggled with it.

The worth and status of women is a theme that struck me as almost necessary in this book: to write about cunning women, witches, and society - you have to delve into this, I think. And Howe does it so compelling-like, drawing us into Deliverance's world, allowing us to believe and then smacking down our preconditions as they come up. It really was brilliantly done.

I do particularly like the part where Deliverance is being examined and she reflects that women are so often their own enemies - that pitting women against women is such a sad, but common tool by men who are in power, to stay in power. It is a thought that has often made me pause, and never was it so powerful as when I read it in this book. So well done!

I whole-heartedly recommend this book! And I do hope Ms. Howe continues to write - she does it so well, it would be a shame to lose her to the Ivory Towers so soon! If you're interested (like I was) check out the website about the book and its terribly awesome author, Katherine Howe, here. (Beware - hauntingly beautiful Audio when you click!)


Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tea, Katanas and Shambling Corpses ...

Oh yeah!Guess what time it is? Time for a review of the sequel to 2009's smash hit Pride Prejudice and Zombies! Oh yeah, it is that time - welcome to my review of

by Steve Hockensmith

Are you as absurdly excited as I am? Thought so!

So, a couple of weeks ago this delightful little gem of a book landed in my mail box: 

Lizzie definitely has some meat here ...
...And so does Zombie girl here
As with the other covers (see to the side) the theme is kept the same: One Part beautiful and classic painting (this one different in that a person who is not a zombie - that is, she seems to be alive. For more of this dual nature of a cover, see Sense, Sensibilities and Sea Monsters.), one part CGI and a final part zombie awesomeness ... though this is more skeletal than zombie. And bu more I mean almost compltely - and for a moment, as I stared at it, I was like "Oh, please, please, have more meat in the book then there seems to be on Mr. Darcy ..."

Well bloggers, no need to worry! Plenty of meat in this one, too!
Onwards with the good Zombie books! 

First off, here is the synopsis, directly from the source
The story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” But the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the proper course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote under development in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.
First let me make mention of this (since I was slightly confused, though it's sort of irrelevant) - the Darcys have been married for four years when the story begins. I know, stupid little detail - but it effected the way I read the opening scene.

And about that opening scene! You see, this book just picks up direct, with no stopping and no pausing. It started right with the dreadful attack at Pemberly and moves right forward, going through a crash course in Elizabeth's own head before plummeting back to the practicalities of wanting to save one's husband:
Then she turned back to Darcy, experiencing a sensation that had been unknown to her for many a year: fear.
She'd faced legions of reanimated cadavers without flinching. She hadn't batted an eye while dueling her Shaolin masters on tightropes stretched over poison-tipped punji sticks. She'd kill a dreadful with a pebble, a pair of ninjas with their own toes, and a bear with nothing but a long hard stare, all without sinking so low as to break a sweat. (17)

Deciding that she must find this rumoured cure for Darcy, Elizabeth travels to London, only to be met by a mysterious Ninja, Nezu (probably my favourite character in this one) and her father and sister, Kitty. Kitty is remarkably changed from the previous two novels. Mentioned many times, she has been freed from the influence and clutches of her older sister Lydia, and as such is struggling to find her own personality. Instead, she is forced to become a tool in Lady Catherine's plans to obtain the cure for the Dreadfuls. She rises to the occasion, ungracefully, her job to entice the son of the head doctor at Bedlam Insanity Hospital, Bunny. Like his name, he has a fondness for the long eared critters.

Moving away from the plot, I would just like to mention the really interesting triangle of personalities (since it's not really a love triangle) that arises between Nezu, the serious ninja, Bunny the incorrigible dandy and Kitty, the girl trying to figure out where she stands and who she should be. I think this is the most interesting facet of the book for me - yes, Darcy is at death/redeath's door, and Lizzie needs to save him, but that seems like subplot to me in light of the going-ons of Kitty and these two men. 
Again, I particularly like Nezu. I can't help it - stuffy, over-serious ninjas get to me! Especially since he also blushes. Yes, he does. 

Back to point: I was reading the blog of an author who seems to specialize in both zombies and love triangles, and she, that is, Carrie Ryan,  had an interesting point - A love triangle is not really about love at all. Rather it is a junction in a life, and our protagonist must choose what sort of person she (in this case) will be - in this case, will she be a warrior woman or a silly thing? 

I really liked the development of Kitty from tree-branch-swinging, "La!" yelling child, to a more serious and compelling character. She develops through the novel in such a way that you're not even really thinking about it - and then it hit you. I think the scene that really displays this is close at the end, so instead of ruining it for you with a descrpition of the scene, I will just post a few lines that convey this change in her:
"You once asked how I could be a warrior and remain so human. I suppose it's because I never saw the two things as mutually exclusive. And so what if they are? Then I would be neither a true warrior nor a true lady. I would be something for which there is no label. And I wouldn't care! Just call me Kitty!" (267)

Asides from this development, DEA also doesn't disappoint with the laughs. Many "La!"s were had - from the first page to the end. The ongoing commentary by Oscar Bennet on his wife, his daughters and life in England in general, continues through, beginning early on with: 
Oscar Bennet was a man who appreciated peace and quiet. Yet for years his library had been the only place he could find either. Out in the green fields of Hertfordshire were the shambling, ever-ravenous escapees from Hell that it was his sworn duty to return to Satan in as many pieces as possible. His home, meanwhile, had been invaded long ago by more alarming creatures still - a swarm of strong-willed females. One foe he fought fearlessly. In the face of the other, his preferred tactic had been, most frequently, retreat to his book-lined safe hold. (39)

And not stopping. He has always (especially in PPZ: Dawn of the Dreafuls) been a character that embodies both funny moments and strict adherence to a warrior code. I think this dynamic is particularly developed in PPZ: DotD, but here it works as a page turner, in a sense. Instead of bringing attention to these aspects of his personality, the jokes and the comments Bennet makes are emphasizing his daughters' roles in the story - he has become a narration of sorts, and the real action is given to his daughters. Even the scene where he takes on two grown men - debt collectors - who have stolen very personal property of an acquaintance of teh Bennets, his fight scene is left to the imagination, and the reader is drawn into both Kitty and Lizzie's stories instead. The only mention of the fight being its conclusion: 
"Trouble?" he said under his breath.
"Sir Angus came home unexpectedly," Elizabeth replied.
"Trouble," her father said, sighing. 
Elizabeth peered down at the rabbit in his arms.
"Don't worry." Mr. Bennet wiped at the blood that speckled the rabbits thick fur. "It's not his." (186)
I think the relegation of Oscar Bennet to the sidelines of this story is a good move for Hockensmith - it allows him to develop the girls to the best of his abilities - and their own freedom. 

Another one who is developed is Mary. The often forgotten sister, she's a bookish sort who I always liked, but never got a real taste for until PPZ: DotD, where she was seen as almost a competitor for Master Hawksworth's approval and possible affections, with Lizzie. I loved watching her come out of her shell - and now, four years later and after reading Mary Wolstonecraft to death, she is at the right time in her own narrative to really come out on top. I think the best jewel among her scenes is this one where she goes into a book store to buy a map of London:
Once book and coins had changed hands, Mary said, "Do you also have in stock Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman?"
The shopkeeper nodded, half-smiling, as if her question answered one of his own.
"Indeed I do." Two shillings. But wouldn't the young lady prefer a nice frothy novel?"
Mary put the coins on the counter. 
"I'm not buying the book for myself," she said. "Be so good as to give it to the next young lady who comes looking for a frothy novel." (123-4)
Mary is witty and sharp, eeven if she is more of a quiet girl. her adventure is probably my second favourite subplot in the novel - and I won't tell you why, but I will say that whoever enjoyed PPZ: DoTD - you will LOVE this! 

But of course, the characters aren't developed in a staid world taht is colourless and boring, oh no. Hockensmith creates a flush London and England, riddled with Dreafuls, yes, but very complex in all its regency glory - some of the best parts of this world are unfortunately my secret to keep - I refuse to spoil more then I should! But there is a strain of English humour that courses through the book, and I will make light of one event, since it struck me as oddly funny and I laughed out loud, scaring the people next to me in the med center waiting room.
The first Irishman of the day was off and running. Seconds later, the gates opened , and out charged the dreadfuls. 
As always, a few zombies, catching sight of the great buffet arrayed in the stands, turned and rushed the high walls protecting the spectators. This was met with boos from  those who'd wagered on them to win. The rest of the pack, meanwhile, galloped after the Irishman, their colourful silk tunics flapping as they ran. (94)
Oh my, that British wit ...

A lot has been said about zombies these days - they seem to be everywhere and in everything. There is also a lot of revamping classics. However, do not be overwhelmed! This book is true to its predecessors and a great read where new characters will sweep you off your feet, old characters will really come into themselves, and some forgotten characters will rear out of the woodwork to demand more of the limelight. 

Honestly, this is my favourite of the series! Well done Hockensmith and well done Quirk! You did it again! 

Now if only I had some of the amazing illustrations to show you ...

The book comes out today (March 22), so if you want to share in all the glorious Regency Zombie fun - go pick up a copy at your local bookstore today and get to reading!

Awesome book, a great read and a great addition to the Zombie and Classic Mash up lit that's out there right now.

Now, as you should have come to expect from Quirk , given their other books and such that have come reader's way - they do not stop at giving you an awesome read, oh no. They also provide wicked book trailers, great facebook pages and other fun stuff. And for PPZ: DEA - they delivered!

For your pleasure (and those who love a good contest, La!), I am copying the message, with links, from Eric Smith at Quirk that came with my book!:
We've also commissioned Etsy artist SpecialMeat (who some of you know from Witch Craft) to create special Dreadful Antidote pendants. We'll be giving away eight of these at random to folks who give the Dreadfully Ever After page a 'like' on Facebook. Carol does amazing work, just check out these bottles
So, you just have to go over to their FB page , like it and be entered! Wicked, right? I already did ...

If that weren't enough, the high flyers over at Quirk are also releasing a book trailer on the 24th by the same creative geniuses behind the PPZ: Dawn of the Dreafuls Trailer (below). We were promised some high-flying kicks, blood, ninjas and katanas - so keep a look out for that! I will post it when it becomes available! 

I cannot wait for their new release, too - The Meowmorphosis! Though I promised myself I would start and finish Android Karina first ... sigh .. so many good books! 

Until next time - 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Coincidentally, this review is Green ...

I wrote this yesterday, but for some reason it wouldn't post so I am retrying today. Forgive? 
First off, Happy St Patty's Day, friends! 
Though it started off as one of those religious holidays, I think it's safe to say that today has become more of a secular event then anything else, with green everywhere, no mention of those dratted snakes, and beer to boot! 
I, myself am not a beer drinker, but I did go out for St Patty's exactly one time to try out that great green beer thing everyone was hollering about. Evidence, you say? Here's a picture from that night:
Satisfied? Yes, it's green beer. It wasnot very tasty. I gave it to my friend and made him drink mine, and ordered an iced tea. I suck, I know. 
Anyways, funnily enough early this morning, I finished a book called "Green Eyes" by Karen Robbards. So with the theme of green, I will review that book today! :)

Anna Traverne will never forget that evening back in England when a bold intruder stole into her chambers -- a dark and daring jewel thief who came for treasures and inflamed her passions with a brazen caress. She thwarted the dashing rogue then. But now Julian Chase has followed her halfway around the world. Julian has come to take what he believes is rightfully his.
And he has vowed to have his tender, sensuous revenge on the enchanting, silver-blond angel who robbed him of his birthright ... and purloined his heart in a single, unparalleled moment.
I like the fact that this book took place in somewhere far off - Ceylon (i.e. Sri Lanka), to be specific. I think it gave the novel an element of uniqueness.  It begins in England, though, during a cold night where our heroine is trying to hide from her unscrupulous brother in law who wants her to submit to him, and eventually become his mistress, in order for him to fund her and her daughter's life, after her husband dies of the fever during the monsoons.

Enter Julian Chase, a half-gypsy thief with a ship on his shoulder the size of Ireland, and an emerald bracelet that may hold the key to all their problems, and you have a promising plot.

Two things stood out in this book for me: one was the mysteriousness of it - and by this I mean, the novel is steeped in the language and the opinions of the time it is set. To modern ears a lot of it can be seen as racist or sexist, etc. But Robards uses this to create a world that is part gothic mystery, with hidden dangers and strange people. She does this rather well, mentioning bits and pieces of strange events or dream-like occurences to build a tension almost on the sidelines to the romance. And it's when all this comes to a head that you realize that you've been expecting something for a while. 

The other thing I liked about this book was the romance itself: the wariness, the fighting, the battling of wills and then the loving - fitting all together it worked really well, particularly since the two character were just so distrustful of one another. Also, the fact that they don't do things half way - when they fight, things are thrown, fists come out and words get said. I like that in my characters, it works to bring them that much closer to reality for me. And the steam scenes are to die for - there's this great mix you get in historicals sometimes, like a propriety vein and a wanton vein and they work well together to show just how all-encompassing a love can be. 

I think the only real criticism and it's really just a personal prefence, is the order of some of the events - there are parts I think should have gone in different place. In all, it works, but I think it would have worked a bit better as a Historical Romance, had the events been changed a bit. 

All in all, great book - awesome steam scenes, and some great dialogue. Really funny too, at times., Highly recommended! 


3/10 books

Monday, March 14, 2011

Steampunk Soul Sucking Good Time!

A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves and Parasols. 

There is something about parnormal books.
I think, in a way, it allows us to infuse imagery to the mystery we find in the world.

And then, there is steampunk.
Steampunk is this growing movement that is one parts magic, one part science and all parts creative genius. It allows the imagination to wonder and create new landscapes for dialogue and action.

Now, fuse the two.
Add parasols, treacle tart and very uptight, Victorian-era mannerisms.

What do you have?

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
I saw this book cover on one of the book bloggers I follow, just a few months ago, before Christmas holidays. I saw the straight backed woman in the shiny purple dress with the parasol and the bright hot pink title and thought to myself: Oh dear, I think I shall have to have that. Then I read that synopsis, and was like: Must. Have. Now.

So I typed it into the Store Locator for Indigo and wouldn't you know? The city where I live while in school had no copies (I am half convinced the population of this city is predominantly illiterate though, unfortunately) but as luck would have it - my favourite place int he world - the World\s Biggest Book Store on Yonge in Toronto did! And I was going home for Christmas! Lucky me! :)

Unfortunately, I only got to it during Reading Week in February - the whole time, this cover and the synopsis plaguing my mind with absurd teasers that left me so frustrated. I was mildly worried that I was building up the anticipation too much, and so when I started, I was pleasantly and instantly surprised to see:

Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening. Private balls were never more then a middling amusements for spinsters, and Miss Tarabotti was not the type of spinster who could garner even that much pleasure from the event. To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favourite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire.
She glared at the vampire.
For his part, the vampire seemed to feel that their encounter had improved his ball experience immeasurably. For there she sat, without escort, in a low necked ball gown. 
Never-you-mind the awesomness that is the title of the chapter - but right away you get the sense you're in Victorian England - the heroine is calm, cool collected and so stuffed full of manners that she cannot even wonder at the oddity of the fact that an errant vampire wheedled his way into the library before thinking of his cheap clothes, disheveled appearance and bad manners.

But even though the story sometimes walks along these tangental lines of mannerisms and fashions, it is by no means a frilly read. Instead, the characters are well developed, and they get more complex as the layers are peeled off, the general sense of which being that the reader knows very little of this new world.

And it is definitely a new world - which is probably my most favourite thing about this book: it's new. Like, entirely new. Sure, there are vampires, werewolves, ghosts, the British, disdain for Italians (and all foreigners), a Scientific society, dirigibles, Hyde Park and special powers - but it's the way these single elements are put together and assembled that makes this a wholly novel novel!

Let me explain a little about this world: This is a world on the brink of science as we understand it. And as such, the dark ages are over and the supernaturals of the world have been unmasked and given calling cards to all the great parts of being out in the ton. But how is it that these types exist? Well, it is theorized early on - they have an excess of soul. Yes, soul.

As for Miss. Tarabotti ... well, she doesn't. She's a preternatural - or a soul sucker, in Vampire vernacular. That means that she has very little or no soul - it's never really determined - and so she would never be able to survive a transformation into any of the supernatural classes (of which there are three: Vampire, Werewolf and Ghost). But this does give her some cool abilities - well, a cool ability. None of the Supernatural's abilities work when they come into contact with her. So that Vampire in the library? Won't be able to take a chunk out of her neck.

Of course, that just means that when Alexia is in danger - it really is a big Bad. And isn't she lucky that she has the sexiest BUR - that is, Bureau of Unnatural Registry - agent, Lord Maccon, who is Earl, Scottish and Werewolf. And super sexy.

The tension between Alexia and Lord Maccon is one part comical and one part endearingly sexy - they are always at odds with one another, he being a traditionalist (and yet, such a free thinker) and she being a blue stocking. Of course, there is always the problem of her constantly getting into trouble with things, and him being the agent on duty to get her out of it, and then there is the fact that he is Scottish and thus only barely civilized.

The jewels of this book are the points of humour that are so well placed that you cannot miss them and relish each one. There is nothing safe - the Scots and Italians get a wollop through the book, then the mannerisms (sometimes absurd) that are strictly adhered to by all well-respected British citizens, and then there is a lot of poking fun at our own interpretations of vampires and werewolves and how they work.

And underneath all of that, and maybe more powerful because of the direct contrast - is the raw power and animal-sex of the culture. Against all the posterings of society, Miss. Tarabotti runs with her feelings, displaying an alarming amount of modernity. Her sexual life is seen in a very modern light. As for Lord Maccon who oozes sex, his sexual life is seen as part of the woldness and the woods and nature, from which he hails. I think that is particularly powerful between the two of them since they tend to match one another in all ways ... and she saves him almost as much as he saves her, and that makes me happy.

The plot is somewhat slow at times, but you will not get bored! It is that full of other things to amuse you with. I love Alexia as the full bodied, dark and big nosed character she is - but my character-love for this book goes to the oochie coochie fashion-"forward", rake of all vampires, Lord Akeldema! He is amazing! He has the most interesting dialogue, and he just never quits - even as he lays in danger, possibly at death's door, he has a lovely platitude for Alexia, while ogling Lord Maccon and disparaging at the state of his waistcoat. He is, quite simply, a character I would love to study in more detail (and hopefully he is a star in the sequels!). He is a vampire and a Rove, loosely affiliated with one of the hives in the London area (Vampires collect themselves in "Hives" that are run by a Queen. Only the Queen can change others into vampires. A ROve is a vampire without a Hive, but usually has affiliations with one or another Hive, but is essentially on his or her own), and he has a penchant for pretty boys, strange fashions and gossip. Lots of gossip. He is delightful, terrifying and perfectly accomidating to my curious mind.

Not that I do not love Alexia and Lord Maccon - but honestly! Who would have thought up a character like Lors Akeldema! I have not been so excited since I discovered Miss Gwen from The Secret History of the Pink Carnation!

Lucky for me - there are two sequels already out! (One which I have and one which I won off Larissa's site and is coming for me in the mail!)

So I can continue to spend some time in this amazingly detailed and amazing world (for comparison, I have not been as excited for a new world since I read Jasper Fforde's first Thursday Next book!).

Excellent book!
Here I go off to read the next one! :)


Here is Gail Carriger's Website - I honestly and urgently beseach you all to visit, it's loaded with goodies on everything from steam punk to essays - go!

And for those chomping at the bit for more - the fourth book in the series will be coming out in July! *squeal* See cover up above! (The purple one, called "Heartless")

Also - for true fans (and those, like my roommate who looked like she was about to fall asleep during class...) a game for you! I am loving these book-related perks that publishers are investing in these days! Love the games especially!

2/10 books

2/20 books

Off The Shelf!

8/75 books

Steampunkery & Book Reviews

4/12 books

2/20 books

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

For the Love of a Pack ...

Back a while ago, I stumbled upon a book called "Lunarmorte" by Samantha Young on one of the blogs I frequent. As a writer and enthusiast of YA Werewolves (or any Shifters of any age, really - I just think they are marvelous examples of pretty much everything), I was instantly on high alert for a kindred spirit and a book I could, heh heh, sink my teeth into (or claws, whatever). So I wrote to the author and tried to figure out how to get a copy of it. Luckily for me - she decided to send me a review copy! Score! :)

Unfortunately, exams and such hit and it got pushed to one of the book piles that ornament my room.

But it kept winking at me from beneath the tomes, and I finally just picked it up and - to hell with school,  I wanted to read this book!

So glad I did.

I polished it off within three days, this past February, and I adored the characters, the plot and especially the world. I think Young has created a world that can grow with her chaacters and her readers, which I believe is very important.

Now first, the technical information:
Love this cover!

Existing in the shadows of our world are supernatural races; children blessed by the ancient Greek gods with unimaginable gifts, and at present they are fighting a two-thousand-year old war with one another.

The Midnight Coven, an alliance of dark magiks, faeries, and daemons born of black magik, believe that the vampyres and lykans are lesser supernaturals and a threat to mankind. They are at war with the Daylight Coven, a confederate of light magiks, faeries, vampyres and lykans who believe in the equality of the races.

Into this war seventeen-year-old Caia Ribeiro is born...a lykan with a heritage unlike any other. A heritage that, whether she wants it to or not, will put her into the very heart of battle...
 The book is the first in a  trilogy of books about a lykan pack of werewolves, descended through a Portuguese (yay! Represent!) family that itself owes its existence to the Greek Goddess Artemis, who blessed the lykans with the ability to transform from human to wolf. Other Gods gave other gifts to their own children, but somewhere along the lines of supernaturals, a war broke out between two factions: A "light" one that wanted to live free and in peace; and a "dark" one that wanted to rule over the others. 

Into this world is born Caia Ribeiro. We're introduced to Caia ten years before the real story begins. A seven year old Caia is being taken from her home after an attack, her guardian Irini, her only link to her lykan self. As they spirit themselves away from the Pack and into safety, they leave everything they know and love behind. 

The present-day story opens with Caia and Irini being called back to the Pack by Irini's brother, and now the Pack leader, Lucien. Caia has mixed feelings about this - she's excited and scared, and indifferent and hostile - but she goes. 

Her integration into the Pack is swift, aided mostly by Lucien's insistence on the pack welcoming her, but Caia keeps noticing the people around her and feeling that her own Pack is hiding something from her. Added to that, she begins to see Lucien in a different light, and as their attraction deepens, Caia must fight against it to protect her place within the Pack. And as all hell is about to break loose, strange things keep happening to her - things no one can ... or will explain to her. 

I think the thing I liked most about this book is the characters - They spoke to me loudly from page one. Caia herself is sometimes frustrating - you want to yell at her because she seems just too innocent, but that's the part of her that is so intriguing. She's smart and crafty and very independent, and she fights all those qualities while trying to maintain a life within the Pack itself. She is so young and has to deal with a lot things in rapid-fire precision that makes the reader really delve into her. I am particularly drawn into her relationship with Lucien - very platonic at first, but as it gets increasingly more intimate, parts of Caia's character are exposed that really make her sympathetic and enticing, 
The intimate run with Lucien had given him a permanent starring role in her dreams. Sometimes the dreams were so real she felt absolutely consumed by them, finding it difficult to fight her way through the sleepy fog into reality. The fact that the dreams inevitably ended with Lucien kissing her, however, was the wake up call she needed. Kiss. Bam! She was awake and Lucien-less. Caia was trying to control her fantasies, she really was. She lived with this guy. 
Caia is struggling with her attraction, and she doesn't know what to do with it asides from ride it out. She lies to herself to protect herself, and this is where we truly see the damage that her ten year absense from the Pack has wrought. She feels abandoned by her family and she is still tenderly and timidly trying to understand her new life and her position in this world of which she knows precious little. 

I also like the way Young grounds her characters and her world in the modern here and now. I think that a story where the Pack itself is so isolated, and the main character grew up so far from them, this is necessary and almost comedic. 

My favourite example of this was the first dinner Caia had with the Rogue Hunter, Ryder.
"Sooo," Ryder drawled breaking Lucien's scrutiny and saving his brother, "Caia, you like movies?"
Everyone apart from herself and Irini groaned.
"What?" he laughed.
Lucien turned to Caia with an exaggerated look of weariness. "When Ryder isn't mutilating Rogues with his bare hands, he's strapped to an armchair in front oh his huge DVD collection."
"I like movies," Caia offered, grasping an opportunity to maybe bond with another member of the pack, particularly one who was so highly regarded by everyone else. 
Ryder's eyes lit up, "Yeah?"
He smirked. "Have you seen Underworld?" 
She chuckled now, her eyes dancing with pleasure. "Yes, I have. I swear it was written by a lykan."
"I think we could take those CGI lykans though." She laughed again and he leaned in conspiratorially towards  her. "And who do you think would win in a fight? Lucien," he indicated their pack leader with a tilt of his head. "Or Lucian?" he referred to the lykan leader of the movie franchise.
There is something so endearing about a group of lykans sitting around a dinner table, talking about fictional lykans - it's interesting and it's perfect for the mood Young is capturing as Caia tries to reintegrate into the pack. 

The climax of the book is frighteningly quick and as it hits you, you're sitting there trying to keep up with a load of huge occurrences, most of which carry deadly consequences. 

Which brings us to the title of the book - Lunamorte. As a Portuguese girl, I will translate it for you (though it is translated in the book) - Luna is latin for "Moon" - Lua is the Portuguese for "Moon" and Morte  is ... well, death. In this context, it is a challenge to the pack leader and a fight to the death for the leadership of the Pack. The twist on this is just fantastic, and I loved the way it was introduced and executed - such a well done climax to a great read! 

Now, that my review is over - and I highly recommend you pick this book up - I have some ... not good or bad news ... just news. Sam Young retained her publication rights for the trilogy and edited the first book so it fit more in line with the second and third, though she assures me that the changes are in no way massive so I can pick up the second and read it without having read the newly edited first book. But, this being the case, I thought I would add in the buying information for the new Book 1 (Now entitled, "Moon Spell").

So go forward and read, chickees!


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