Mini-Reviews: Werewolves

Book: Vesper
Author: Jeff Sampson
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: January 25, 2011
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Deviants #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) Emily Webb is a geek. And sheâ??s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, sheâ??s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And sheâ??s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girlsâ?? boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmatesâ??also named Emilyâ??is found mysteriously murdered.

The thing is, Emily doesnâ??t know why sheâ??s doing any of this. By day, sheâ??s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until itâ??s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that sheâ??s not just coming out of her shell . . . thereâ??s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirelyâ?? something not human?

As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that sheâ??s not the only one this is happening toâ??some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monstersâ??and how many people will they kill to get what they want?

Overall impressions: I posted a status review for this book on Goodreads that said “this is the most exciting boring book I’ve ever read.” That pretty much sums up my feelings. While the story itself was full of promise of exciting things to come, they never fully materialized. I couldn’t wait to see where the story was going, but the plot never fully went anywhere. It felt like a very slow build to what is sure to be an exciting next chapter. If you can hang with the slower pace, I think the payoff will be big.

I really liked the fresh take on the supernatural characters here. We know there are mysterious things going on, not only because Emily is acting so strangely, but also because we see hints in weird behaviors in other minor characters. Additionally, chapters are broken up occasionally by transcripts from a future discussion Emily is having about the events happening in the book. We never got complete answers, but the action and mystery were just interesting enough to hook me. By the time I finished this one, I was dying for the sequel. More please!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system


Book: Nightshade
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel
Release date: October 19, 2010
Source: Borrowed from local library
Series: Nightshade #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Overall impressions: From the beginning, this felt like a chore to read. I felt like I had walked in on a lecture mid-class and was struggling to keep up having missed some important revelations. The lore and history of this world is definitely intricate, but Cremer never bothers to clue us in. Instead, we have to make our own deductions and assumptions about how things work. I’m not the world’s laziest reader, mind you, but I do think that in complex fantasy worlds we need a bit more hand-holding.

The characters in this book were not very likable. BFFs we will not be. Calla seemed too willing to roll over and submit for being an Alpha, and neither of the love interests were that, well, interesting. Ren was overbearing but ultimately seemed to care for Calla, yet he kept doing such awful things that I couldn’t really fall in love with him. Shay was just too boring. I felt like with such rich mythology and settings, this could have been a home run, but the lack of info and frustrating characters ruined this reading experience.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Advertisements

Review: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Book: Fateful
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 13, 2011
Source: ARC received from Around the World Tours

Summary: (from Goodreads) In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship theyâ??re sailing on reaches the United States, sheâ??ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets….

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alecâ??s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and theyâ??re stalking himâ??and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

Featuring the opulent backdrop of the Titanic, Fatefulâ??s publication is poised to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the shipâ??s doomed maiden voyage. It is sure to be a hit among Titanic buffs and fans of paranormal romance alike.

First impressions: Claudia Gray wastes no time setting the tone here. Tess is off on a last minute task before they sail on the Titanic, and she fumbles around in dark alleyways with trepidation. Fear is definitely a prominent emotion for Tess throughout the novel. An early run-in with a wolf lets us know that this is not going to be a typical Titanic tale. (Alliteration bonus points!)

Lasting impressions: SPECIAL SHELF! One of my favorite reads of the year.

Conflicting impressions: The dialogue felt a little cheesy at times. The interactions between Tess and Alec had the tendency to sound like something you’d hear on a soap opera – very melodramatic.

Overall impressions: If you like the story of the RMS Titanic, and you like young adult paranormals, you will L-O-V-E this book, just as I did. It was a near-perfect mashup of historical events with a werewolf twist.

I know. It sounds ridiculous. I promise you, it’s not.

Tess Davies gives us an honest account of life as a 20th century English maid. Working for the horrid Lady Regina, and her much more pleasant daughter, Irene, life is never easy for Tess. She hopes that when she arrives in New York at the conclusion of this voyage she can slip away from the Lisle family and set out on her own. All she wants is independence and the chance to get out from under the employers who have made her life, and the life of her sister, miserable.

While boarding the Titanic, Tess has the distinct feeling of being watched, and after several run-ins with the ominous Russian Mikhail, she discovers she is in danger. Luckily, a handsome young son of a Chicago steel magnate, Alec, comes to her rescue. He harbors secrets of his own, however, and despite his efforts to keep Tess away from his problems, she winds up sucked right into the middle of them.

The werewolf lore is just sparse enough to serve the story without bogging us down with too many details. We know at least one wolf is on board, wants something from Tess, and will stop at nothing to get it – even if she doesn’t know what it is. As she struggles to avoid trouble with the wolves, she winds up getting into trouble with her employer, the Lisle family. The balance of work duties with real fear of a very supernatural situation is hard on Tess, made even more difficult by the fact that as a servant she has almost no power or trustworthiness in the eyes of the ship’s staff. She is alone, and it is terrifying.

When she does manage to make a tentative friend out of one of her bunkmates, things ease a bit for her. Tess doesn’t really know what it’s like to have a friend, and this experience sets up an important relationship that will impact the rest of her life. Likewise, her blooming romance with Alec also has lasting consequences, and she learns that sometimes you can have joy in your life no matter your station.

My only disappointment with this novel is the fact that the sinking of the Titanic doesn’t occur until the very last pages. I would have liked to see this moved up a bit, since we all know it’s coming, and I kept wanting to get there quicker. The description of the ship going down is as vivid as in the James Cameron film, and just as tragic. Because of the third-class/first-class love story here, as well as the setting, it’s hard to not think of Jack and Rose, which is why I appreciated the werewolf angle. It sets this story apart a bit more, giving it a unique twist and some exciting action to carry the plot forward.

This was an absolute treat to read, and I so very highly recommend it. This is definitely going on my top five books of the year.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system



Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Book: Firelight
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 7, 2010
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
Series: Firelight #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki â?? a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will’s dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping awayâ??if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She’ll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

First impressions: I was so intrigued by dragon shifters! In the first scene, she’s being hunted, and I was completely drawn in to this modern world full of dragon descendents.

Lasting impressions: Jacinda makes a really interesting character, and like a werewolf, she’s not always in control of her shift to draki form, which amped up the tension. I was sold on the concept alone.

Conflicting impressions: I do wish that the draki lore had been expanded a bit, so we knew more about their culture. Jacinda and her family exit that life so quickly that I was a bit confused on how much of the world knew of their existence or what the real consequences would be if that information got out. I mean, sure it would be bad, but how bad? How many hunters are there? How many draki? I had way more questions than answers.

Overall impressions: This was a fun, different read that I enjoyed a lot more than I anticipated. Jacinda is an interesting character – a draki shifter who flees her home because her status as a rebel firebreather has put her in danger, and her mother and sister are not able to shift. They desire a normal life, and haul Jacinda out to the Southwest deserts to kill off her dragon side.

Jacinda doesn’t handle this too well, despite knowing there wasn’t much of a life to look forward to back at the draki camp. She was betrothed to Cassian, a headstrong guy who just doesn’t do much for Jacinda, and would be expected to make little firebreathing babies with him. Because of her penchant for sneaking off and breaking rules, she also had some stiff punishment facing her. Knowing all of this doesn’t make her agree to run for the hills and try to live normally, though. She just wants to fly.

This selfish nature was a bit trying at times, and when she kept digging herself into holes I found it hard to heartily root for her to get out instead of maybe taking a bit of what was coming to her. Not that it was much easier to root for her to kill off an essential part of herself just to appease her whiny sister and depressed mother. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place on who to side with here.

Enter Will. A boy with secrets of his own, he is drawn to Jacinda as much as she is to him. They have an insta-love connection, and Jacinda has total Edward Cullen Syndrome going on – she can’t control her impulse to turn draki around him. This means lots of tentative kisses, followed by the need for restraint when things get too hot and heavy, thus avoiding any kind of physical intimacy the author (or audience) may find uncomfortable.

Give me a break.

Despite my frustrations at times, I did enjoy the setup of the draki world versus the real world, and look forward to reading the next book (Vanish, out now). I want to know more about the draki, and find out whether Will and Jacinda can find a way to be together, or whether Cassian will end up winning us over. It’s a pleasant story with a unique twist, and is a nice read for fantasy fans.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Click the cover to purchase at Amazon
Book: Skinwalker
Author: Faith Hunter
Publisher: Roc
Release date: May 22, 2009
Source: Bought for Kindle
Series: Jane Yellowrock #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) As a freelance skinwalker, Jane Yellowrock spends most of her time hunting down snarling vampires. In her latest gig, however, this Cherokee stalker receives a call from an unexpected client: New Orleans vampire madam Katherine Fontaneau wants Jane’s help in “neutralizing” a rogue of her species who has been slaughtering other vampires.

First impressions: I was really looking forward to reading this book. My mom recommended it to me after I said how much I liked the Mercy Thompson books, and in this series Jane Yellowrock shapeshifts into a cougar. A cougar! For realsies. I was super psyched, and the opening sucked me in right away.

Lasting impressions: Disappointing. Maybe I hyped it up too much. Maybe it just wasn’t my kind of story. Either way, I ended up not enjoying this one as much as I had hoped.

Conflicting impressions: The major thing that didn’t work for me was the transition into Beast’s head. Jane shifts into a cougar she calls Beast, and when she does her mind becomes the actual cougar’s, which means lots of stilted phrasing and a limited vocabulary. I found this too distracting and I really struggled to get through those sections.

Overall impressions: There were plenty of things I liked about this book, too. New Orleans becomes almost a character itself. The supporting characters are well developed and Jane is an interesting and independent person who is pretty badass. She’s not sure how she and Beast came to be, well, melded (for lack of a better word), and she struggles to control her at times. She can feel Beast raging around and clawing her insides. It’s a pretty unique characterization that I enjoyed.

It was the plot that gave me troubles, along with Beast’s voice. I found the story overly complex and the mystery confusing. I still couldn’t tell you what happened or who the bad guy was, other than that Jane and Beast ran around a lot, talked to a lot of people, and were hired by vampires to hunt down a rogue. Then stuff happens and her hunt is thwarted and eventually (I think) she figures out whodunit.

It’s been a while since I finished reading it, so in the interest of full disclosure, it could just be my aging memory that’s tripping me up. Overall, though, I didn’t find the story clear or compelling enough to keep my interest for long, particularly when Beast was roaming. I encourage you to give it a try if you like urban fantasy, just beware the cougar.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Click the cover to purchase at Amazon
Book: Silver Borne
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Release date: March 30, 2010
Source: Bought for Kindle
Series: Mercy Thompson #5

Summary: (from Goodreads) When mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy Thompson attempts to return a powerful Fae book she’d previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down. It seems the book contains secret knowledge-and the Fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn’t take enough of Mercy’s attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side-leaving Mercy to cover for him, lest his own father declare Sam’s life forfeit. All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn’t careful, she might not have many more to live.

First impressions: I love when we start these books in Mercy’s garage. I still think having a heroine who is a car mechanic is the coolest thing ever. I wish I knew how to work on cars!

Lasting impressions: Though a bit slower and less exciting than past installments, it was still an enjoyable read.

Conflicting impressions: The Adam-Mercy tension feels a bit contrived at this point. Really? They still can’t figure out how to just love each other? After all this time? With everything Mercy’s been through I’m ready for her happy phase any time now.

Overall impressions: I love this series, and I’ll stick with it until the bitter end, although I hope the end is anything but bitter. It’s been a really long time since I read book 4, so it took me a minute sometimes to process what had happened and where these characters should be. Still, I relaxed into the world easily and comfortably.

The action felt a bit distant somehow. Even though things happened, particularly things I should have been concerned about, Mercy’s reactions to the events around her seemed muted which made me not as worrisome. This is always kind of an issue in the series, since Mercedes doesn’t always think through her actions before realizing she’s in peril. Still, in this book I actively noticed how much Mercy didn’t seem to worry that Sam was stuck as a wolf or that the bookseller was missing.

I cannot stress enough, though, how much I love this world. I love Mercy as a coyote shifter in a world of werewolves. I love that the fae are complex and surprising. I did miss the vampires, notably absent in this book. Patricia Briggs really fleshes out the setting (in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state) to seem bold, yet real. I believe that these creatures could exist in tandem with humans. I accept the magic involved.

If you love urban fantasy, you should be reading this series.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Click the cover to purchase at Amazon
Book: 13 to Life
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release date: June 22, 2010
Source: Won from Recovering Potter Addict
Series: 13 to Life #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) Everything about Jessie Gillmansenâ??s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, sheâ??s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accentâ??heâ??s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessieâ??s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie canâ??t avoid…

First impressions: The opening scenes are really engaging, particularly when Jessie encounters a beast outside her barn. We then jump right into her life at school and the introduction of Pietr, and the book moved really well for the first couple of chapters.

Lasting impressions: The cliffhanger at the end left me curious to see where the story is headed, but the lack of action in this book makes me question whether I would enjoy another installment.

Conflicting impressions: Pacing, pacing, pacing. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I have a hard time enjoying a book that moves at a snail’s pace. Nothing happens for a very large portion of the book, so while the beginning and end were interesting, the slow middle really affected my opinion of the book as a whole.

Overall impressions: There were elements of this story that I really liked. Pietr is interesting, and I like his complex family. Jessie had me laughing out loud in a couple of scenes. She’s really funny, and would be way more likable if she wasn’t so hung up on her friend Sarah.

You see, Sarah used to be the cruelest mean girl in the school. She was also responsible for Jessie’s mother’s agonizing death by fire in a car accident. When Sarah survived and wound up in a coma with memory loss, Jessie took it upon herself to nurse her back to health and turn her into her best friend.

WHAT?

Sorry, I’m not buying it. It serves the story by adding a layer of tension when Sarah starts to revert to her old self, but its primary purpose is simply to add a roadblock to the burgeoning relationship between Jessie and Pietr. Because fragile Sarah has a crush, Jessie couldn’t possibly act on her growing feelings for him. Jessie made me so angry during this part of the book that I wanted to shake her. Why are you giving up everything for the girl who took your mother away from you?

The light at the end of the tunnel is the last few chapters. Things really pick up toward the end, when Jessie starts putting together the pieces. We get information that Jessie and Pietr and their families may be linked, and it ends on a cliffhanger.

There are enough cool things that happened in this book that I think the next one may be worth a read, but I’m still hesitant. Jessie was at times funny and likable, and at other times completely ridiculous. Pietr is dark and brooding, but also in insta-love with Jessie. The end was interesting, but the first chapter totally gives away what’s happening in the story and therefore dragging out Jessie’s realization.

All told, it just didn’t work for me.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Want a different perspective? Check out this 8 out of 10 review by A Beautiful Madness.

Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Book: The Dark Divine
Author: Bree Despain
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release date: December 22, 2009
Source: Ebook purchased for Kindle
Series: The Dark Divine #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) Grace Divineâ??daughter of the local pastorâ??always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

First impressions: I know it has nothing to do with the book, but that cover is gorgeous. I hate to admit it, but it did kind of influence how much I wanted to read this one. I mean, it is seriously beautiful.

On to the actual book. One of the first things I noted about this book is the demarkation of time. Despain uses section breaks that indicate the time of day or location of the story, which really helped orient me within the timeline and kept the momentum moving. This concept worked really well for me.

Lasting impressions: The mystery that permeated Grace and Daniel’s story was sublimely realized in the final few chapters. Despain really delivered a great ending, even including a few surprises just when I thought I had it all figured out. Silly wabbit.

Conflicting impressions: Some of the plot elements had a bit too much build for my tastes. It takes a really long time to figure out the beef between Grace’s brother and Daniel, for instance, even though it’s constantly referenced throughout the entire book. My impatient side got a little frustrated.

Overall impressions: Grace is a pastor’s daughter, an art student, and a good girl from a good family. Hanging over her is an incident with the boy next door, a close friend of the family’s, who came from a broken home and moved in with them for a time. One day Daniel’s mom came to collect him and they moved away, and he disappeared from their lives for years until his sudden return to town. Daniel and Grace’s brother can’t get along, no one in her family is interested in inviting him back into their lives, and Grace struggles with the desire to stay away from the troubled and mysterious boy despite her strong attraction to him.

Nice church-going girl falls for bad boy, conflict ensues. Simple, right? Not so in this deliciously complicated tale of love and loyalty. Daniel is struggling with more than just an abusive father, and Grace has far more at stake than just a disapproving family if she chooses to love him. For me, this was like the good girl/bad boy story on steroids.

Through the course of the story, Grace encounters increasingly disturbing events. The suspense builds nicely, with each new death or near-death forcing the reader to ask more questions about what’s really going on. Is Daniel responsible for the violence spiking now that he’s back in town? Is there more to pseudo-boyfriend Pete than meets the eye? Why does her brother Jude hate Daniel so much?

Although the ending is a bit predictable, given the numerous clues throughout the book, it’s still satisfying in that we get answers to all of these questions, and even some we didn’t know we were asking. I liked that Grace had to figure out the answers for herself, with both her dad and her brother giving her the information, but leaving her to draw her own conclusions. This helped keep Grace as a capable and intelligent main character without seeming passive or whiny. It also explains how she makes the difficult decisions she does, both selflessly and thoughtfully.

This is a fast paced tale with believable characters and just enough action to keep things exciting. I’m definitely looking forward to The Lost Saint.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Want a different perspective? Check out this review by Sonette’s Bookworm Blog or another five star review by The Lovely Getaway.

Looking for my usual Monday post? Be sure to check out what’s In My Mailbox this week.

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: July 13, 2010
Source: Borrowed on Kindle

Summary: (from Goodreads) In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

First impressions: If there’s one thing Maggie Stiefvater can do, it’s write a good intro. I liked the tone of the prologue, setting us up for a not-so-happy ending. When the actual story begins, we pick up soon after the first book left off, and I thought things got going right away.

Lasting impressions: Even though I could see where the story was going, I really didn’t want it to happen. This book suffered from “middle book syndrome,” where there’s enough of a story arc to get us through, but no real conclusion. Instead, we’re left to decide whether we care enough to find out the end of the saga in the third book.

Negative impressions: Though I liked the introduction of the new character, Cole, I found the four narrators to be a bit much. I often found myself uncertain who was “speaking” and would read several paragraphs before realizing I was in Cole’s head and not Sam’s. Everything in these books reads exactly the same way, in exactly the same voice, which does not lend itself to two narrators, let alone four.

Overall impressions: In some ways, I actually liked this book better than Shiver. Grace was less annoying, but perhaps only because with four narrators I spent less time in her head. Sam became much less interesting in this book, but Cole was exciting and fresh, and his dark attitude brought something different.

The story changes a bit in this one, with the wolves less able to control their shifting, which leads to Sam, Grace, Cole and Isabel trying to figure out what’s going on. When the book ends, they still haven’t found a solution, and instead the ante is upped even farther, setting up the need to solve the problem in the last book, out this summer. I have to admit that curiosity is convincing me to give Forever a try, though the fact that I find these books only mildly interesting may change my mind. Stiefvater is great at thinking up interesting plots, there’s just something missing in the execution.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Want a different perspective? Check out this five star review by Annette’s Book Spot or this four star review by Book Couture.

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: August 1, 2009
Source: Local library

Summary: (from Goodreads) the cold. Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolfâ??her wolfâ??watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.

the heat. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now.

the shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay humanâ??and Grace must fight to keep himâ??even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

First impressions: I read the first few chapters of this book in a writing class, so that experience definitely influenced my impressions when I picked up the book this time around. Stiefvater sets up the story really well, introducing us to the dual perspectives of Grace and Sam that will carry us through the rest of the book. Her writing style is staccatoed and almost poetic at times, and she lets us know immediately that Sam’s yellow eyes and the temperature will be important elements of the story.

Lasting impressions: There are some gruesome moments in this book. The encounter with the dogs, Sam’s parents, people getting shot – not for the faint of heart. I was caught off guard by the amount of violence and it certainly stuck with me long after I put down the book. I’m not usually so affected by that kind of thing, but for some reason this story had me squirming at the level of brutality present at times.

Negative impressions: The story didn’t really kick in gear for me until the last quarter of the book. I loved the beginning, thought the ending was solid, but the middle really dragged. I wasn’t a big fan of the back-and-forth narration switches. I thought Grace was a little too quick to accept Sam’s wolfiness (for lack of a better word). It also irked me that Grace’s parents were basically written out of the book so Grace had a good excuse to spend all of this time with Sam. There didn’t seem to be much conflict in the relationship with her parents, and the fact that they were never around bothered Grace, but not in any way that really affected the plot. It read like a device necessary to get them out of the house instead of a symptom of some larger issue.

Overall impressions: I loved the concept of temperature being responsible for Sam’s shifting. Sam was by far the more interesting character to me. His backstory really drew me into the world, from how he was turned to how he came into his current pack. He had this long, complicated, tortured history that I connected with, and it made me understand his choices. I’m not sure I can say the same thing for Grace.

Grace annoyed me more than anything. She basically falls in love with a wolf, with the added bonus that he turns human sometimes. She never notices Sam as Sam, only Sam as wolf. Her relationships with her parents and friends are all strained, and none of her interactions with them make her the least bit likable. She was too self-absorbed for my taste.

Once I got through the slogging middle, the plot really picked up and I got really caught up in the race against time and temperature. I loved the way it ended, and it worked well as a stand alone novel, so I’m curious what the sequels will be about. Stiefvater has an interesting writing style, and the short chapters make it easy to flip pages, so I will probably read Linger.

Rating: 3/5 stars