Tag Archive | Divergent

Cursed by Fire & Kissed by Fire (Books 1 & 2 in the Blood and Magic Series) by Danielle Annett

I recently signed up to the Blog Tour for the release of Kissed by Fire by Danielle Annett. However, I needed to read Cursed by Fire first. It was my intention to read each book and review them separately, but I was so intrigued by the first book, I had to read Kissed by Fire (a good sign for any reviewer) to see where Annett was going to take the tale, hence, this is a dual book review!

In Cursed by Fire, the reader is introduced to Aria Naveed, a mercenary and psyker – meaning she has pyrokinetic powers, bursting into flame, often at will, but sometimes it is out of her control, particularly when she is stressed. The opening to the book is quite a brutal one as Aria and her boss, Mike, find the body of a little boy, Daniel,  who they have been employed to find, murdered seemingly by a vampire. However, as it transpires that the Daniel was a shifter, someone who can transform into an animal, this act is seen as a potential spark to a war between the vampires and the shifters. In order to avoid a battle between the two groups, Aria is hired by the shifters to find out who killed Daniel. Helped by her best friend and shifter, James, Aria investigates Daniel’s murder, uncovering a plot to incite the war, but she is determined to find out who killed the little boy. All the while, Aria is being watched by a handsome stranger, who despite her resistance to him, feels an attraction towards him. However, Inarus is not who he seems and Aria is torn between her attraction for him and her innate defensive response.

Cursed by Fire gives the reader an idea of the hierarchy in this place where paranormals and humans live side by side, not necessarily harmoniously. The characters are intriguing, and the plot has a feel of Veronica Roth’s Divergent about it. Similarly, there are factions, in this case, shifters vs vampires vs humans/Psykers, who have lived alongside each other out of a desire to keep the peace but there are members among each group who wish to take control. Like many first books in a series, this book lays the groundwork for future books, but has plenty of action to draw the reader in.

Kissed by Fire flows a little better than Cursed by Fire, most likely because there are a lot of characters in the first book to get accustomed to and a societal dynamic to get a grasp of. Cursed by Fire ends with a 3rd person narrative in consideration of Declan Valkenaar, the Alpha of the Pacific Northwest Pack of shifters. The reader is given a hint that perhaps Declan feels more for Aria than has been previously displayed. In Kissed by Fire, we find out just how true this is. As Aria takes over at Sanborn Place, the mercenary firm she works for, she is keen to get back to work and takes a job at a farm where a being has been attacking the farmer’s animals. The farmer is convinced it is a creature only know as a myth, but when it turns out that there may be some truth to the myth, Declan’s hand is forced into completing an act that seals Aria’s fate. As Aria comes to terms with this turn of events, along with her mixed feelings for Inarus and the still-unsolved murder of Daniel, the reader is taken on a fast-paced journey.

I like to be able to feel a sense of realism in the books I read, something to relate to, and while this book is jam-packed with vampires, shifters and psykers, the battle of wills between each powering force is something that can be related to the politics of today’s society. The sense of tenuous compromises and living on a knife edge are all valid scenarios that we hear in the news each day. Aria is a great main protagonist, flawed but strong. She reminded me a little of Stephanie Plum, heroine of Janet Evanovich’s “Numbers” novels. These books aren’t remotely comedic like Evanovich’s novels but Aria always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and usually ends up coming off worst.  That said, she is strong, feisty and really likeable.

Annett has written two really good books and I have no doubt that there will be more to come from this series. They are not necessarily books I would have picked up to read, but they were entertaining nonetheless, and I think any issues I have with it are down to personal choice. I’m not completely sure I understand the Declan connection, although perhaps this will be explored in future books. I was a little disappointed that James is not the love interest, but I’m sure Annett has a plan for her characters and I am invested enough to want to know what happens next. Cursed by Fire and Kissed by Fire are action-packed, mystery-filled novels and will appeal to readers who like an adventure.


The Age of Sequels

Sequels are commonplace these days in books and films, more so than they ever have been, it seems. Obviously, there is a massive financial advantage to sequels, particularly in the film industry, but I wonder what attracts the viewer/reader to invest in these films/books and why are we so disappointed if the follow-up to an original hit turns out to be less than we hoped for. For me, I feel different about film sequels than I do about book sequels. I tend to be wary about film sequels, yet I love book sequels.

The news that has triggered this train of thought was that I heard today that there is a sequel in production for the film Independence Day. First of all, the original film was so good, I am struggling to imagine that they can better the original and secondly, it was the casting of Will Smith that made the first film so good in my opinion and he isn’t involved this time round, so I’m really not sure that they will be able to offer a worthy sequel, even with the return of Bill Pullman. I think that perhaps I have already made my mind up about whether I am going to like this film or not, although I am sure I will watch to see if I can be otherwise convinced.

Yet I am very excited about the return of Carl Logan in Rob Sinclair’s sequel to Dance with the Enemy in his second novel Rise with the Enemy. I have it pre-ordered to download on the 30th April and I can’t wait! I have previously waxed lyrical about Dance with the Enemy and I am positive that I will be writing a glowing review of its sequel. Watch this space!

In truth, I have only ever been disappointed in one book sequel and that was the third book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, Allegiant, a trilogy that I had read under sufferance having been mithered by my 15-year-old daughter. To be fair, I enjoyed most of the book, I just wasn’t keen on the ending. I felt that I had invested so much in Tris’s journey that the ending left me feeling short-changed. I’m sure that there was a “bigger picture” positive message to be found but personally, I wanted a nice happy ending. Three books with a character leaves me with an emotional connection with that character; I imagine them as a close friend and I feel that I have a vested interest in their future. So when the book ends and the character doesn’t quite have the ending I would have liked, I feel a distinct lack of closure. With one book, it is bad enough, but when I have followed a character for three books, as she overcomes challenges and cheats death, I want her to reap the benefits of her trials and tribulations.

Just before I read the Divergent trilogy, I read The Hunger Games, again at the behest of my daughter. I absolutely loved this trilogy. I have read it again since at least twice. The book, while similar in the near-death experiences stakes, gave me closure for Katniss Everdeen and it was the same with the Harry Potter… books. By the end, all was right with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all books should have a happy ending but personally, I’d at least like the main protagonist to be at peace, whilst living some semblance of a happy life, especially when they have been through a series of harrowing experiences as part of their story. I’m not keen on the film remakes of these books either. For me, they just don’t live up to the books.

Perhaps I don’t invest in a film in the same way that I do with a book. Certainly the time taken to watch a film is considerably shorter than reading a book, even when it is read from cover to cover in one session, as I have been known to do on regular occasions! Perhaps my love of reading clouds my judgement. I am certainly an advocate of preferring books to the film remakes. Like a lot of people, when I read a book, I imagine the characters and the location settings and I do often have a habit of “casting” any potential film remakes. For example, I had Channing Tatum in mind for 50 Shades of Grey and I was a bit disappointed with the casting of Jamie Dornan (although I have to say, the clips that I have seen of him in the film, he does seem to have convinced me a little – the DVD comes out on my birthday so I’m looking forward to finding out). For my favourite series of books, the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels, I had my mental casting couch out again and I had Sandra Bullock in mind for hapless bounty hunter Stephanie, Hugh Jackman for Italian Stallion cop Joe Morelli and Dwayne Johnson for mercenary cum bounty hunter extraordinaire, Ranger in the film remake of One for the Money. Having read up to the seventeenth Stephanie Plum novel at this stage, I was particularly invested in these characters and was devastated that the film didn’t come close to living up to my expectations. I got this film on DVD for my birthday too so this may not bode well for 50 Shades of Grey!

So, it seems that I do not look forward to sequels of films as much as look forward to sequels of books. Thinking about the sequels of films that I have watched and enjoyed, there are only a few. Bad Boys 2, Bridget Jones Diary: The Edge of Reason and Sex and the City 2. (Yes, I was the one fan that the film had!) I’m sat here trying to think of others and I’m drawing a blank. So if I can only think of one sequel to a book that I haven’t enjoyed (and it was only the last couple of chapters that I objected to) then I can only come to one conclusion; book sequels are infinitely better than film sequels. At least, they are to me! If you can think of any more films that have great sequels or any more books that have bad sequels, please comment and let me know.