June 27, 2012

Book Review: THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book:  The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy: Book 1)
Author:  Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Category:  Young Adult Fantasy

“Will you not look at me?”- Princess Amarinda
“No, my lady.  If I can not look at you as an equal, I will not look at all.”- Sage
“Remember this moment then Sage, when someone of my status offered a kindness to someone of yours.  Because next time we meet, If Darius is dead, I will no longer be anyone of importance.”- Princess Amarinda

Description Via Goodreads:

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. 
Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. 
But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats

Having just put down the book I am still in a state of shock.  The book is just THAT good.  Honestly I wasn’t expecting much when I started reading because though I like historical fiction, I’m not one for those with much political intrigue.  This has an abundance of that, but it offers so much more.

Author Jennifer A. Nielsen
Sage, Latamer, Roden and Tobias are orphans bought by Conner to compete within two weeks, at the end of which one will be chosen as replacement for the lost Prince Jaron while the rest are killed.  Sage is forced to learn and train with the others, knowing that one of them may very well murder him. But time is of the essence.  The Royal Family, including crowned Prince Darius, have been murdered.  And the only way to save the kingdom of Carthya from an imminent attack is to find the lost prince.

 Both Roden and Tobias have an edge over Sage: Roden is good with the sword while Tobias is educated.  Sage is neither.  What he has though is an iron backbone, quick wit and a sharp tongue which he uses on everyone at anytime, despite threats of extreme physical punishment.  He endures with the help of a mute servant named Imogen and Conner’s own man Mott. 

I can not say much more about the plot as one slip can give all away but do know that this is a must read book for all ages filled with very strong characters and perfectly crafted layers.

Fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson will find a new hero in Sage. 
I highly recommend THE FALSE PRINCE

This is the first of three books under the Ascendance trilogy.  The 2nd book titled THE RUNAWAY KING is slated to come out Spring of 2013.

You may visit the author’s sites at:

The False Prince is available at National Book Store branches nationwide.

June 20, 2012

Book Review: FORBIDDEN by Syrie James & Ryan M. James

Book :  Forbidden
Authors:  Syrie and Ryan James
Publisher:  Harper TEEN
Category:  Paranormal YA Fiction

She should not exist.  He should not love her.

"You can't go back! I don't want you to give up everything for me!"- Claire
"Claire, you'll be happier without me.  This is your chance to be safe, to have some semblance of a normal life."- Alec
"I don't want a normal life. I want you."- Claire
"I want you too. But it's not realistic. It never was."- Alec

Claire is a smart young woman who reaches puberty late (read: period at 17) and with it comes psychic powers slowly, but surely, getting stronger as each day passes.  She can see both a person’s past and future with just a touch.  Afraid that her mother would make them pack up and leave town again, she decides to keep this a secret, telling only her two best friends: Erica and Bryan.  On the day her power manifests, she meets a beautiful boy in school, Alec MacKenzie. 

Alec is no ordinary boy.  He is a Grigori, an angel whose purpose is to find and if necessary, kill Nephilim, particularly The Fallen, or Nephilim gone bad.  But after years of serving blindly, he has gone AWOL and has decided to try being normal, which means living like a human and going to school as a teenage boy though he is more than a hundred years old.

Alec and Claire feel a pull towards each other that gets stronger when he saves the lives of Claire and her friends.  And eventually, she finds out the truth about Alec….and herself. 

Claire is a Nephila. Half angel half human. An abomination in the eyes of the Grigori.  The only one of her kind left.  And is in mortal danger.  Alec’s godfather Vincent, the angel guardian who taught him everything he knows, has been hunting her, and her Grigori father (whom she has never met), for years. 

But despite this and the fact that the Grigori are not allowed to love, Claire and Alec fall for each other.
Knowing she’s in danger, he tries to convince Vincent to leave Claire alone.  Vincent agrees, but only in exchange for Alec’s departure from her life forever.  But how safe is Claire when her psychic powers are growing stronger, and another power has yet to manifest itself….. a power that may make her stronger and more dangerous than all Nephilim and Grigori combined…..

Even though this book is quite predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Mother & son team: Syrie and Ryan James
The plot is good and the characters are engaging.  Written in both main characters’ points of view, it made understanding their dilemma and subsequent choices easier.

Of the characters, I particularly loved Alec for his emotional strength and faith in Claire, of course his Scottish accent (which I kept hearing in my head ala Sean Connery) didn’t hurt either. I also liked both Bryan and Erica for their funny one liners, though it baffles me how easy it was for them to accept Claire and Alec’s true nature.  One nice point in Forbidden is that a possible love triangle with Claire's classmate Neil wasn’t pushed too much.  From the moment Claire liked Alec, she just kept going in one direction and I like that.

Forbidden is a well paced read with no boring moments and a really fine ending.  I suspect the “surprise” character at the end would play a much larger role in the next installment.  In fact, I hope so because the brief part that person had was enough to excite me for the 2nd book which hopefully will come soon.

Forbidden is available at NATIONAL BOOKSTORE branches nationwide.

You can visit the authors' sites at:

June 04, 2012

Book Review: TASTE by Kate Evangelista

Book:  TASTE
Author:  Kate Evangelista

Publisher:  Crescent Moon Press
Category:  Young Adult Fiction

"Did he touch you?"-Demitri
"Luka did he kiss you?"-Demitri
....I shook my head....
"Why?" -Phoenix
"Because..... you belong to me."-Demitri
Phoenix seeks trouble. Mostly to get her father's attention but also to fill the void  left by her mother's death from a mysterious illness months before.  And touble she finds when one night she oversleeps in Barinkoff academy where the number one rule is to NEVER stay past curfew in school.  

No clear reason is given for this rule and Phoenix finds out why when she bumps into the most beautiful group of teenagers she's ever seen.  They are the night students  of Barinkoff who belong to a race called Zhamvy, flesh eating people who live underground.  And they now threaten to TASTE her flesh.  She is saved by a beautiful dark haired boy named Demitri who hurries to take her away from the academy.
curiosity aroused, she purposely stays late the very nexy day.  She ends up in the chemistry lab where She gets threatened and chased by Calixta, Demitri's betrothed.  

The chase leads them to Luka, an angelic looking young man who orders Calixta to leave.  Demitri eventually takes Phoenix away but only after he is commanded by Luka to kneel before him.
Safely back in her own world, Phoenix decides to stay away, only to be pulled back in by Dray, Demitri's brother, who asks for her help in an experiment.  She obliges, not knowing that Dray means to change her into a zhamvy herself.  

Upon waking, she encounters Demitri and an uncontrollable urge to bite him.  She did, later finding out that this act, a woman marking a man with her bite, would tie them together in love and lust, for eternity.  Unsure of how to proceed, Demitri tries to protect Phoenix by hiding her from everyone else.  Unfortunately for him, she has other plans.  She escapes her assigned guide just to end up with Luka....again! 

Author Kate Evangelista

But though she feels an attraction for Luka, she feels a pull for Demitri unlike anything else.  They start gravitating towards each other with such strong passion.  Demitri however has only one choice, to step into his chosen role as the future king of Zhamvy.
But love is not easy to ignore, especially when another possiblity  suddenly presents itself....

Author Kate Evangelista created a new world so interesting in TASTE that suspending disbelief is easy if only for a few hours.  The first few chapters were slow but after picking up a fourth of the way, i just zoomed through the book to the very end, reading the last line at 3 in the morning.  Yes the book is interesting enough to keep you reading straight through to the end no matter what time.

My only complaints are the non stop reference to Phoenix's mother's illness and death, and the over description throughout the book, which i hope will be much lessend in Evangelista's next novel.  Case in point:

Despite his features barely showing any expression, I saw desire blazing within the infinite blackness of his eyes. A smoldering blush blossomed on my cheeks and climbed up the bridge of my nose. My heart raced like a hamster on a wheel.

Or this

Tears slid down my throat and pooled in my stomach like sunlight on a forest floor.

Among the characters in this story, the one i least like is Phoenix.  Her selfishness, uncontrollable curiosity, carelessness and lack of respect for another rubbed me the wrong way.  She isn't the kind of protagonist i appreciate in books, but Demitri is.  A strong, principled man who tries to live by what he has been raised to be, a Prince and the future King of Zhamvy.  I also love Luka, not just because of his beauty but also his charm and strength.  Between the two, i couldn't choose who i wanted more for the throne and for Phoenix's heart.

Fellow readers will appreciate the fact that there is strong ending to the story.  That this is a stand alone book.  That though the world of zhamvy is interesting enough for a few more books, Evangelista does not prolong the agony for her new fans.  She creates an ending that has a bright future for the protagonists, yet also leaves the readers to create their own endings for them.

So for those who hate open ended conclusions, pick up a copy of Taste.  You will fall in love with this new world.
And Congratulations to Kate Evangelista, another great addition to the world of YA.