Living Within the Pages – Book Review #15

31 01 2011

Title: Tempestuous

Author: Lesley Livingston

Series: Wondrous Strange trilogy (#3)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Alex’s Rating: 3.75

Kelley Winslow did it. She, a Faerie princess, managed a lie…and the cruelest one at that. In her hopes of driving Sonny away while she searched for those who sought to do him and his hidden magick harm, Kelley made him believe she did not love him. In his upset daze, Sonny manages to be welcomed into a Lost Fae sanctuary where he finds the magic of the Fae world underground and unlikely allies in a battle that comes from the most unlikely of enemies.

The once trused Janus Guards Sonny so loyally fought with have gone rogue. The few that could be coerced and invited into the power hungry group. Mix these jaded fighters with corrupt monarchs and another being holding quite the grudge, and you get the stormy fight scenes and intense action that sets Tempestuous apart from its milder predecessors.

Kelley must not only fight for herself, Sonny, and their relationship. She must take on and harness all of her mother’s power and save her parents, the Lost Fae, and the mortal world from a Faerie infestation unlike all others. Paired with the gallantry of the Lost, the few Janus who hadn’t gone rogue, and her parents (yes, her biological mother and father), Kelley and Co. flit, fly, ride, stab, transform, and outrun their enemies in this final installment.

The action ante was upped and the stakes were much higher this time around, however I felt the ending was a bit too cookie cutter and everything fell into a place where I wasn’t quite looking (that could be a good and a bad thing).

The re-awakening of an ancient magic originally done out of misguided love, the power of the High Fae, and the corruptibility of one man with vengeance on his mind made this an interesting read, but not my favorite. The discovery of a betrayal at the end and the subsequent heroism of the character later seemed a bit unrealistic, but seemed like it had to be there for the ending to fall into place the way it did.

The first book, Wondrous Strange, still holds the most magick for me. While this is a wonderful series and the ending was as happily ever after as it could get with the losses endured along the way, I still didn’t connect with the sequence the way I did with the first book.

It is still a world woven with love, fantasy, and intrigue, and well worth the read. I love how Livingston weaves Shakespearean themes and lines into the spells and enchantments Kelley and the other magickal creatures in her world put to use. The words of Ariel and Prospero from The Tempest flow through this book just as seamlessly as the famous bard’s plays flow through the first two novels.

And by the end, we see Kelley grow into the princess she was born to be and her love flourish with Sonny the changeling that captured our hearts from the beginning. That in itself was magickal.


Living Within the Pages – Book Review #14

27 01 2011

Title: Darklight

Author: Lesley Livingston

Series: Wondrous Strange trilogy (#2)

Amazon Rating: 4

Goodreads Rating: 3.92

Alex’s Rating: 3.75

Darklight, the second of Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange trilogy, continues with the story of Kelley Winslow, Sonny Flannery, and the menagerie of Fae in Livingston’s world.

Although Kelley managed to end the Wild Hunt, the repercussions are still being felt in the Otherworld. At the end of Wondrous Strange, Auberon commands Sonny to go back with him to the Faerie realm and displace all of the remaining Hunters.

Separated for over six months from Sonny, Kelley–deep in rehearsals for the Avalon Grande’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet–begins to not heed the advice of the Janus Guard and walks through Central Park one night on her way home.

This encounter leaves her with a new fear and appreciation for the Fennrys Wolf, but it does not deter her from walking through the park again, albeit with the Wolf as her escort this time. Although she is flanked by this strong Janus Guard, trouble finds the two deep within the park and another fight for her life lands her in the Otherworld.

Going between the mortal and Faerie realms, Kelley discovers more of her own power and its constraints, a new and terrible power, and is forced to make several difficult choices. Aided by old friends and new, Kelley and company fight off a band of leprechauns and their twisted sisters in a battle for power, control, and a little lucky charm. But just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, Kelly is forced to make the most difficult decision she has ever made. A decision that will cost her the thing she loves most.

I enjoyed the second installment of Livingston’s trilogy, but it did not capture my attention as well as Wondrous Strange did. Perhaps I will chalk it up to “second book” syndrome and try not to think too hard about it when beginning the third and final book, Tempestuous.

I love the warring and complicated world Livingston has woven for her young readers. Even being in my early twenties, there is a special magic between the pages. One of innocence, change, acceptance, and hard decisions. All pertinent to the process of growing from a youth into an adult. Kelley, Sonny, and other friends make tough decisions that not only affect themselves, but everyone around them, and even those in other worlds. And it is that change that allows the reader to feel connected to the characters even in a world so fantastical we can barely fathom it exists within the book.

Livingston’s world is full of life, imagination, deadly wars, dangerous alliances, and lovely dalliances. It is a place to live, love, laugh, cry, and most importantly, grow. It is a place where Kelley learns the true meaning of coming into her own and we as readers get our fair share along the way.

Living Within the Pages – Book Review #13

27 01 2011

Title: Wondrous Strange

Author: Lesley Livingston

Series: Wondrous Strange trilogy (#1)

Amazon Rating: 4

Goodreads Rating: 3.75

Alex’s Rating: 4

Seventeen-year old Kelley Winslow moved out of the safe haven of her aunt’s home to pursue an acting career in the Big Apple. Paired with a diva/model of a roommate, Tyff, Kelley’s life is a far cry from the average teen.

The young teen heads off daily to her way-off Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the understudy, hoping she will one day get to don the sparkly fairy wings in the costume closet of the Avalon Grande, her home away from home.

But a turn in Central Park one night leaves Kelley’s green eyes wide-open to a new world. A world where the impossible does exist and Faeries are much more than Shakespeare’s play minions with mischief on their minds and sparkly gossamer wings on their backs.

Kelley meets Sonny Flannery, a member of the Janus Guard. The Janus Guard was created by the Winter King, the true Auberon (and not the creature Gentleman Jack portrays on stage) to control the rifts in the Samhain Gate–a magical passageway where Lost Fae have slipped through into the mortal world and creatures of the Shadowy Queen Mabh try to come through and wreak havoc.

Enter the real Puck/Robin Goodfellow, the Queen of Air and Darkness, Herne the Hunter, the other Janus Guards, and a plethora of fantastical creatures that will take your imagination on a wild ride trying to put some portrait together of this magical world based in the heart of New York City. Throw in the dangers of the Black Shucks, the Wild Hunt, and a betrayal that will harm the very fabric of Kelley and Sonny’s world.

I fell in love with Kelley and Sonny and the twists and turns neither one of them, nor the reader, were expecting. The third-person narration works wonderfully to get in the minds and eyes of all of the characters and truly breathes life into the world Livingston created for the pleasure of young adult and adult readers alike.

What a great addition to my paranormal collection and the beginning of a wonderful series.