Tuesday, 15 May 2012

"Legacy of a Dreamer" by Allie Jean

"Legacy of a Dreamer" by Allie Jean

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Chantal Breelan is a ward of the state, living under the care of a woman who is cold and heartless. Her past is a mystery, and her future is even more uncertain. She can’t recall why she had been taken from her parents and so she’s left with nothing but an empty hole where her childhood should have been. When she awakens from her nightmares, she’s left with terrible, violent images, as well as a boy whose face is oddly familiar, yet can’t be placed.
Scared and alone, Chantal begins to confide in an imaginary friend – a shadow in the shape of a man who stands in the corner of her room. She is comforted when she believes he listens to her.
On her eighteenth birthday, Chantal is forced to leave her foster home. She moves to New York City, but the start of her new life doesn’t begin as smoothly as she’d hoped. In this environment, she faces a whole new set of challenges.
One night at a subway station, Chantal meets a young boy who runs away from her, and she’s compelled to follow him down into the tunnels. But this Rabbit Hole reveals a world where reality is a nightmare. Her dreams are clues to her future, and her life becomes twisted and dangerous when she learns that things that go bump in the night are not just in fairy tales and childhood stories.
Allie Jean’s “Dreamer Series” has a great deal of potential and it all starts with “Legacy of Dreamer” an intriguing mystery about a haunted young girl Chantal Breelan, whose past has been plagued by troubling events and whose future is uncertain. Chantal, a ward of the state, leaves the dubious security of her foster home after coming of age and begins to forge a future for herself; she secures herself a place to stay, starts a friendship with a neighbour and looks for employment... until the past intrudes and the real story is revealed. 
It is here that we are formally introduced to Nick / Mathias, a hero in this tale. I say “formally” because we had already been introduced to Nick (in the very early stages of the novel), but the legitimacy of his character was in doubt as he was woven into the shadowy dreamscape of Chantal’s imagination and ever present nightmares. Nick and Chantal form an alliance to fight against the force that oppose them and together they make a great combination. So it was no surprise when their romance unfolded quite naturally, despite the troubling circumstances they found themselves. 
Here’s what worked:
I enjoyed the way “Legacy of a Dreamer” started and the pace at which it developed.  Allie Jean created a semi spooky mystery and continued to build the plot and the suspense as the story continued. I liked that both the past and the future was mystery - this created a great deal of uncertainty in the present, which kept me turning the pages searching for answers.
The characters worked well together, they were flawed, earnest and touched by the hardship of others.
There were several supernatural action / battles scenes that I thought were well described and would possibly translate well into film sequences. The shadowy figures were a highlight - Nick / Mathias being the stand out character and the evolution of his relationship with Chantal.
There is a twist, rooted in Chantal’s past that changes the whole story line - I loved it, but I won’t say more or it will spoil the story for you
Here’s what didn’t work:
I am not convinced that all the characters mentioned in the opening chapters are necessary to the story, and some were mentioned with apparent unnecessary detail; though this is hard to confirm, especially with more books in the series still to be released... perhaps their inclusion is quite important. 
The ending felt a bit rushed to me and I would have liked a little more detail, but again, there is always the next installment for that.



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Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Last Keeper by Michelle Birbeck

The Last Keeper by Michelle Birbeck
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Fifteen hundred years ago, Serenity Cardea took the life of the only vampire she ever regretted killing—Henry, her sister’s husband. With her sister brutally murdered, Serenity had little choice but to grant Henry the only request he had: death.  Centuries later, Serenity is no closer to discovering who betrayed them or instigated the massacre of her brothers and sisters.
The vampires want dominance—over their food, the other races . . . the world. To get it, they’ve systematically hunted down and slaughtered the only ones standing in their way. The Keepers.
As a Keeper, Serenity is tasked with protecting the delicate balance between the creatures of the world: Vampire, Witch, Were, and Human. Her kind exists to ensure that no single race sways the balance, dooming the world to destruction.  
They're on the brink of extinction, with no sign of return. Now only two remain, and Serenity’s last brother is facing death, leaving her standing alone against a never-ending tide of vampires, all wanting one thing: power.
Then she meets Ray Synclair, a history professor in training with a passion for centuries past, and the harsh reality of her limited time comes crashing down on her. He is her weakness. His mortality is the countdown on Serenity’s life, and with each passing second, it comes closer to the end, for both of them.
She must uncover the secrets of her people’s past and find out who betrayed them—and who is still doing so—before it’s too late.
Serenity’s days are numbered, and Ray will be drawn into a world of myth and legend, where just being alive is enough to get him hunted down.
Because the only way to kill a Keeper is to kill their partner . . .

My Thoughts
I enjoyed the novel "The Last Keeper" by Michelle Birbeck, it started well, introduced the characters, set the scene and alluded to the plots's directionality, successfully building upon and compounding my interest with the looming sense of disaster.
The characters were well rounded and described, with a solid mix of dialogue and action - both factors are huge prerequisites for me as it enables the reader to identify with the characters. Then came Ray, and with him came a budding romance, complete with all the angst and tension a fledgling relationship deserves... that sense of looming disaster continues to grow, and grow... until you realise it was never going to end well, and that's just the first half of the book!
Ha Ha, that's about all I can tell you without having to place a spoiler alert. What I can tell you though, is that there is a twist to this tale that left me in awe of the clever trickery of the author. Did she cheat? No, rules are made to broken, but what she did was cheeky - withholding some of the historical information of the characters that paved the way for a peculiar turn of events. I'm undecided how I feel about it, and I am almost sure that Annie Wilkes - of Stephen King's "Misery" would call Michelle Birbeck "a dirty bird".
So read the book, decide what you think and leave a comment below...


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