In keeping with Halloween, this month’s Mixed Bag is a mix of (mostly) otherworldly books by (mostly) Australian authors.
Fallen by Lauren Kate (Fallen #1)
When Luce starts senior year (year 12 for us) at a boarding school for troubled teens, she discovers that her classmates aren’t, well, normal, and that the reason the school hottie is avoiding her at all costs has something to do with her destiny—until for some reason her destiny doesn’t happen on schedule.
I might have enjoyed this story more if I hadn’t already read the many—oh, so many—teen urban fantasy books with similar characters and conflicts. The brooding, I’m-no-good-for-you-so-I’ll-turn-down-your-advances-by-being-rude-and-offensive hero just doesn’t work for me anymore. At least, not unless the heroine calls him out on it—and Luce doesn’t do it enough. It got interesting towards the end, but the main characters didn’t have enough shades of grey for me.
Yay or nay? Sparks of interesting plot were bogged down by a frustrating hero and shallow character development. You can read an excerpt via Facebook (scroll towards the bottom of the page if you want to avoid spoilers for the next book).
A review copy of this book was generously provided by Random House Australia.
AUSTRALIA: Booktopia | Borders | Fishpond | Pages & Pages | Readings | Click here for more bookshops
EBOOKS: Book Depository | Books On Board | Borders | Diesel | eBooks.com | Fictionwise | Kindle
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository
Publisher: Doubleday (Random House) | C format: 9780385618021 | B format: 9780552561730 | Ebook: 9781409096085
Gladiatrix by Rhonda Roberts (Timestalker #1)
This book is the first in a time travel mystery series featuring 22-year old Kannon Jarratt, who inadvertently becomes a time traveller in the process of trying to find her biological mother. When Kannon finds herself in Ancient Rome, she has to figure out how to get back to her time—but first she has to survive the arena.
There were two things I liked about this book: the beginning of the story is set in Sydney and most of the rest is set in Ancient Rome. There’s potential in this series, but I’m used to a lot tighter plotting and faster paced novels. Gladiatrix didn’t always hold my attention.
Yay or nay? A series to watch out for. There was a little romance in the story, which always wins points. You can read an excerpt via HarperCollins Australia.
A review copy of this book was generously provided by Voyager.
Publisher: Voyager (HarperCollins) | A format: 9780732288556 (May 2009)
The Splendour Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore
When Sylvie Davis’s promising ballet career is cut short by a terrible fall, she goes off the rails a bit, gets drunk at her mother’s wedding and is sent off to some distant relatives in Alabama to get herself back together. But there, Sylvie beings to see and hear things that make her wonder if she really is going insane. Meanwhile, she meets two boys—one bright and one moody, of course—and they might just be the key to her family history.
This book starts off strongly, and I loved the way Clement-Moore introduces Sylvie’s injury and resulting downward spiral. But when the paranormal elements are introduced, the story becomes less engaging. I found the plot lacklustre, the pacing slow, and even though the romance wasn’t bad—in fact, quite sweet at times—it wasn’t anything extraordinary, either.
We stood that way for a long, ridiculous moment, until my out-of-practice grin faded, and there was nothing left to say but goodbye. But the longer he didn’t say it, the more I didn’t want him to.
I certainly couldn’t. My tongue had tied itself in knots. Maybe because I was suddenly very aware that we were in my bedroom, and I was wearing my camisole and pink pyjama pants with bright yellow ducks. Which hadn’t seemed like such a big deal until we shared that smile.
Yay or nay? For readers who like a gentler kind of paranormal plot with tree-hugging undertones. You can read an excerpt via Random House Australia (link to Flash widget).
A review copy of this book was generously provided by Random House Australia. Note that the US edition is titled The Splendor Falls.
Publisher: Corgi Books (Random House Australia) | B format: 9780552561358 (April 1, 2010) | Ebook: 9781409096245 (July 1, 2010)
River Run Deep by Rachael Treasure (originally titled Jillaroo)
(There’s nothing paranormal about this book at all, but I’m including it in this Mixed Bag, because if you pick up this book? You should be very afraid.)
This is the book I have dubbed The Vomit Book. In summary: They fight, they drink, they puke, they save the farm.
Apparently, the B&S in ‘B&S Ball’ doesn’t just stand for ‘bachelors and spinsters’; it’s also code for binge drinking and spew. Alcohol abuse and vomit scenes in every other chapter are not my idea of a good read. This is a shame because the romance is quite sweet in some parts of the story and the drama shows promise here and there. But the plot and characters are a bit of a mess and Treasure doesn’t manage to convey any depth despite the trauma they—and I, as the reader—endure in this book.
AUSTRALIA: Australian Online Bookshop | Bookglobe | Booktopia | Borders | Dymocks | Fishpond | Gleebooks | Nile | Pages & Pages | QBD | Readings | More
EBOOKS: Not available
WORLDWIDE: Amazon UK | Book Depository
Publisher: Preface (Random House UK) | B format: 9781848090859 (November 2008)