Friday, 30 July 2010

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

"The Real World is a frightening place.

Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken on her fair share of bad guys. She's armed, dangerous, and not going down without a fight. So it's gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust...

Just when Dru thought she was safe, everything exploded in her face. Her mom and dad are long gone, her protectors Graves and Christophe kinda want to rip each other's throats out, and a four-hundred-year-old nosferat named Sergej won't stop hunting her until his bloodthirsty army of suckers has torn her to shreds.

Dru's finally made it to the Schola Prima - the Real Deal djamphir training facility and home of the Order - and life is about to get even more Real World. There's a brand new svetocha in town - a redheaded vixen named Anna who's got the Order wrapped around her pretty little finger, and who'd rather kill Dru than share the spotlight. Turns out Dru's got something Anna wants. And his name happens to be Christophe Reynard...

How can Dru trust the Order to protect her, when its leader wants her gone?"

This is the third book in the Strange Angels series. I adored the first too books loving Dru's tough, down to earth, but vulnerable character and the world Lili's created. Book three picks up a few days after Dru, Graves and a couple of other wulfen arrive at the Schola Prima. In theory she should be safer there, surrounded by the council of the Order. But Dru's sure someone is out for her death, and that the Order's leader, Anna the only other svetocha, is involved. But how can she prove she's not safe when the Order follows Anna's every whim? With Christophe gone and Graves refusing to come clean about how he really feels about her Dru finds herself feeling lost and alone and desperately wanting out of the Schola, before someone manages to succeed with their plans for her.

I was hooked from page one and really struggled to put this book down. Like the two books before it, it's tightly plotted and I was never too sure what would happen next. It's a little less action, more subtle intrigue than the previous two books, until about the last quarter. But that's not a bad thing. It gives the chance for some things to be explained, back story to be dropped in (without it dragging the story down) and for Dru to discover more about the Schola, what being a Svetocha means and more about the djamphir world in general.

The romantic aspects of the series which have previously been subtle and only very lightly touched on pick up in this book. Dru's feelings for both Graves and Christophe intensifying and leaving her confused and torn. I am still not really a fan of Christophe. I can't really figure out why. He's a good character, well rounded, mysterious and interesting. But I don't really like him. May have something to do with the way he, like all djamphirs, looks down on the wulfen, and may have something to do with my adoring Graves as well. But there's more to it than that, just can't really put my finger on it. He did grow on me a little towards the end of the book, but only a tiny bit. Think he's going to play an interesting role in the next book, Defiance, and probably one I won't be too happy with.

Graves. Ah I love Graves. He continues to surprise me with how well he's adjusting to life as a loup-garou and his constant loyalty to Dru is great to see. Doesn't mean he always agrees with her, or that he won't yell at her if he doesn't feel it's needed, but it does mean that he sticks by her, taking care of her when she needs it. He clearly has feelings for Dru, but he seems to be battling them and I'm almost as confused as Dru as to how much he really feels for her. Frustrating on many fronts!

The pain and frustration of Dru's emotions make the book hard reading at times. She's battling to find out the truth of her past, her mom's death, still grieving for her dad and just trying to stay alive. But the ending was more painful still. It's harsh, shocking, heart wrenching and a hell of a cliff hanger. There are just 2 more books to come in this series, Defiance and an as yet untitled 5th book, and I can't help feeling that they're going to be just as painful but awesome to read. Lili's created characters to care about and a world to get lost in. I'm still holding on to the hope that Graves will be the guy Dru picks at the end of the series, even though the romance is a subplot not front and center, but it's so up in the air still and I feel it could go either way. But there is one thing for sure, after the ending of Jealousy, nothing is ever going to be quite the same for Dru and the guys. Can not wait to find out what happens next! This is without a doubt one of my favourite YA series full stop. It's dark, twisted and has characters that are strong and flawed. A must read for anyone who likes urban fantasy books. 10/10

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Wait For Dusk by Jocelynn Drake

Spoiler warning!! Spoilers from the previous book, Pray For Dawn, here. None for Wait For Dusk.

"There is no sanctuary in the night...

Feared even by her own kind for her mastery of fire, the nightwalker Mira is summoned by the coven to take her rightful place as Elder. But with this honor comes grave responsibility - a commitment to the annihilation of the un-leashed naturi. For now the foul creatures walk the earth - and neither vampire nor human will survive their horrific onslaught.

A tide of blood is sweeping relentlessly across the European continent, as Mira is dispatched to Budapest for the most devastating test yet of her astonishing powers - and falls in to a well-laid trap. With the dark secrets that haunt her growing darker by the hour, she must confront the terrible truth of her past and protect her fragile sanity in the face of unanticipated treachery - a betrayal by her trusted ally, her beloved enemy, the vampire slayer Danaus."

This is the 5th book in the Dark Days series and after Danaus' POV for Pray For Dawn (book #4) we're back with Mira. PFD ended on a hell of a cliff hanger and WFD picks up exactly where it left off. Mira is confronted with a new enemy, someone who could prove worse than the now prisoned bori to deal with. He wants something from her and is determined to get it. As he leaves, promising to be watching, Valerio appears on the Coven's orders to tell Mira to return and take her place as an Elder. She knows it can't be avoided, but she refuses to appear alone, taking Danaus with her under the lable of 'consort'.

The other Elders and a few ancients (vampires who've hit the 1000 year mark) make life difficult for Mira, as expected, but it's not until she arrives in Budapest, to rid it of naturi, that the real games begin. She's sure Elder Macaire wants her dead, and at any cost, so she knows being in Budapest at his request will be dangerous. But Danaus betrayal is something she never saw coming. Mira's fighting several different fronts, trying to rid the world of naturi, keep the supernatural world hiden from humans, and now she's doing it not knowing who, if anyone, she can trust.

Got hooked from page one and couldn't put it down. It's fraught with tension and pain as Mira faces new, bigger challenges and Danaus' betrayal. Which I wouldn't have seen coming if not for it being on the blrub. But having it there was a great hook and I think maybe added something because I knew it was coming and I was wondering how he could possibly end up on the opposite side to her with how things were going.

From book one I've been sure Mira is not strictly a nightwalker. I've always thought that she can't have been completely human before she was turned because of her ability to manipulate fire. And it is finally addressed in this book. But the answer surprised me and the repercussions are huge. Not something that can be cleared up all in one book either. I love the developments of Mira and Danaus relationship, including the bad stuff. They just play off each other so well, their differences, the way they've both changed through the series, how they've gotten so close and understand each other so well. With Valerio in Budapest with Mira though, it also gave an interesting glimpse in to her past. The was she used to behave with him when they spent time together a couple of centuries ago. And how she's changed since then, and why. It's almost a darker Mira we're faced with here as she attempts to do the right things, filled with guilt and grief over the loss of Lily, the street kid she and Danaus more or less adopted in the previous book. She's determined now to destroy the naturi by whatever it takes. Nothing is about to stop her. She comes face to face with Rowe again here as well, for the first time since book 3, Dawnbreaker.

As always there were twists and turns I didn't see coming and the tension just build until the ending. It was shocking and sad and made me cry, second Dark Days book running to do so! It was dark, and passionate and fantastic. I love the world building in this series, how the different creatures all work against each other, their own limitations and strengths. It all just comes alive on the page and it's easy to get lost in it. I can not wait for the next book, and while I'm very grateful for getting 2 books within a month of each other, I'm wishing the next one was out with the same time frame! This has become one of my favourite series having only felt so-so about the first, and not much better about the second one. I love Mira and Danaus and both their strengths and weaknesses. But alongside Pray For Dawn this is my favourite of the series so far. Awesome book, awesome series and I'd highly recommend it. 9/10

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

"What if your soul mate is...your best friend's boyfriend?

Lani and Erin are lifelong best friends - and total opposites. Lani's a down-to-earth Taurus; Erin's a fiery Leo. Lani likes to do her own thing; Erin prefers an entourage. They've always had wildly different tastes, from pizza toppings to guys.

That is, until Erin starts dating Jason.

From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can't deny the amazing connection she feels with him. It's like they've known each other their whole lives. She's not sure if he feels it too - but even if he does, he's off limits. Lani's determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than hurt her best friend. Then Erin goes away for the summer - and Jason seems to appear everywhere Lani turns. How long can she keep running from the guy who might just be the love of her life?"

I've read 2 of Susane Colasanti's previous books, When It Happens and Take Me There, both of which I really enjoyed. So I was looking forward to this one and hoping I'd love it as well. Sadly didn't happen. Honestly I didn't enjoy this book too much at all. The premise is fine, the plotting and pacing is fine, but I just didn't really like any of the three main characters.

Lani and Erin are supposed to be best friends. The forever kind having survived an traumatic accident together as kids. They've drifted of late, but they both still say they're best friends, still spend a lot of time hanging out. But from my view as a reader, there is little left there between them. Lani is a bug believer in fate and following her horoscopes, but when it comes to standing up for herself, to Erin, Jason, her parents and other friends, she's far too passive. She won't share her real feelings or she'll go with what someone else says because she feels its better to please them. I think she completely mishandles the situations she finds herself in and while I can understand her guilt getting the better of her, it just annoyed me.

Erin is one of the popular girls, she likes having people around her and being the center of attention. There was little about her behaviour, towards Lani and others, to like to start with. But when she, inevitably, finds out about Jason and Lani's feelings, she doesn't even attempt to hear out her 'best friend' she just tears her apart. Again, I understand why she's angry and why she feels the need to lash out, but the extent of her selfishness about it did nothing but irritate me. Not sure how she didn't notice the feelings between Jason and Lani from the start either to be honest, it was pretty obvious and that didn't help her credibility. And there just wasn't enough to Jason at all for me to form a particularly good or bad opinion of him. I wasn't impressed with how he handled his feelings for either girl, but there wasn't really anything to seriously dislike about him either.

My favourite part of this book was actually the subplot going on with Lani's other best friend, Blake. He held my interest and sympathy. I found myself getting really involved with his story, even though there was very little to it. I wanted more of him and his issues and less of the main story. I was surprised how much I ended up caring what happened to him and how impressed I was with how he dealt with the things thrown at him.

Overall it wasn't really a bad book. The initial plot, best friends both interested in one guy and trying to deal with it, is fine. But without likable characters, or at least being able to relate to them somehow, it just falls flat for me. Won't put me off Susane's other books, like I said at the start I've already really enjoyed a couple of hers, but this one just didn't work for me. Had it's moments, particularly with Blake, but that was it really. The ending wasn't great either, not really wrapping things up enough just kind of...stopping. Shame, I wanted to like this book. 5/10

Monday, 26 July 2010

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Endless Summer is a 2-in-1 containing The Boys Next Door and it's sequel, Endless Summer. I'm reviewing the books separately, in this one post so you can ignore the ED one if you don't want the minor spoilers for TBND that are in it.

The Boys Next Door

Lori McGillicuddy is almost 16. She's grown up one of the boys, spending her summers wakeboarding with her older brother and the three Vader boys next door. She's long since had a crush on middle brother Sean, who's a couple years older than her, but now she's about to turn 16 she's decided she's had enough just being one of the boys and wants to be seen as a real girl. But her best friend, the youngest Vader, who is 16 as well, Adam, has other plans. Can he convince Lori that it should be him she's choosing instead?

I loved this book from the start. It's written in first person from Lori's point of view and her voice sucked me straight in. She's naive, sweet, strong willed and always up for an adrenalin rush. Her mom died when she was 5, and she doesn't have any real girl friends, so Lori is a little clueless when it comes to making herself more girly, mostly taking her ideas from fashion magazines. Which are something she never used to read. She decides that her best chance is to make Sean pay attention and get jealous by pretending to date Adam. Adam knows the plan, and goes along with it, but it's obvious from the start that he is in love with Lori and would very much like to make her change her mind about which brother she should be with. Nothing goes smoothly for Lori. Misunderstandings and other mishaps run rampant and she learns a couple valuable lessons along the way.

I also love that while the love story is the biggest chunk on the book, there is more to the characters than just that. All the main characters, Lori, Adam, Sean and their other brothers, have other little things going that we see a bit of. And how we see how the sibling rivalry between Adam and Sean affects the rest of them. They really hate each other and it makes for some hard moments for Lori watching sometimes. Adam suffers from ADHD, which Sean never stops ribbing on him for. It makes Adam something of a daredevil, willing to try the biggest, stupidest wakeboarding stunts without really caring about the consequences. His temper flares easily creating more issues for Lori at times, but he's so easy to love despite that.

Jennifer does a fantastic job of capturing the emotions of these teens. She really makes them come alive on the page and I was rooting for Lori and Adam from the start, despite the opposition they faced. There is such a sweet naivety to both of them a lot of the time, knowing that they both want things to be okay and neither really sure how to make that happen. It's a quick paced read, fun and quirky romance and I'd highly recommend it! Getting both this and the sequel together is a bonus, though if you already have TBND then it's still worth buying this for ED alone. I couldn't put either down and finished them both in a day. 9/10

Endless Summer

ED picks up right where TBND leaves off. Having finally gotten together, for real and not pretend this time, Lori and Adam are trying to figure out their new relationship a little. But one early, big mistake sees their parents ordering them to stay apart, for the whole of the rest of the summer. They're oddly not to happy about this new development and determined to see each other still, whilst trying to find a way back to each other that will be approved of. Like TBND, it turns in to one mistake after another, but with a bit more lasting pain and hurt to go with it.

Unlike TBND this is told in alternating POV's from Lori and Adam. So we get to see both sides, how each of them is really feeling, how they think the other is feeling and get a much better picture of whats really going on. I loved getting a look in to Adam's mind, seeing how he thinks, how he deals with things, how he really feels about having ADHD, Lori and Sean. It helps show just how well suited they are to each other as well.

Lori really isn't very smart in this book. She makes some surprising and slightly crazy decisions about how to try and make her dad think Adam is a good choice for her. I wanted to shake her at times and ask what the heck she thought she was doing, and ask if she was really blind to what it was doing to Adam. But I couldn't really get mad at her because I could understand why she made the choice. She wasn't trying to hurt anyone, she just wanted Adam back and while it wasn't the smartest move, it was what she believed would work. Her heart was in the right place, she just got a bit one-track about it.

There were a couple bits of ED that I felt dragged a little, but I was still hooked and still couldn't put it down. I loved reading them back to back, getting more of their stories because I just completely fell in love with these characters. A great read with some very funny moments in it. A must read! 9/10

So Behind!!

Ack. I'm behind with about 4 or 5 books waiting to be reviewed, the adult recs page hasn't gone up like it was meant to last week and still needs some major editing, the 'currently reading' on the sidebar is about 5 books behind (maybe more, I'm losing track) and I'm about to be swamped with new releases! (like, 6 of them tomorrow/Wednesday) Apologies for the quite, I've been pretty sick the past couple weeks (for those who don't know, I have CFS/ME *look here for what that is* and bad weeks totally screw up any plans). I've been lucky enough to be well enough to read, but by the time I'm done, my brain is scrambled and I can't string words together very well for reviews. You're lucky I got the Waking the Witch one up the day I read it.

So, I'm taking care of myself this week, no yard and horses for me *sadness* and I'm hoping it means I can get caught up on the reviews and still add ones for the mass load of great books that are released this week. I apologise in advance if it doesn't happen...

Very cool new Vampire Academy news released the other day. It's being turned in to a graphic novel as well!! First edition will be out next year sometime, no date yet, cover is on Richelle Mead's blog here. I kinda love it, very excited!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Waking The Witch by Kelley Armstrong

"Columbus is a small, fading town, untouched by the twenty-first century. But when three young women are found dead - victims of what appear to be ritual murders - things start to get very dark, and very dangerous...

Private investigator Savannah Levine can handle 'dark and dangerous'. As the daughter of a black witch, she has a lot of power running through her veins, and she's not afraid to use it. But her arrival in Columbus has not gone unnoticed. Savannah may think she's tracking down a murderer, but could she be the killer's next target?

Of course, she could always ask her old friend (and half-demon) Adam Vasic for back-up. But Savannah has her own - very personal - reasons for keeping Adam well away from Columbus. And in any case, she can rely on her own powers. Can't she...?"

This is the 11th book in The Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. Overall I love this series and it's one of my favourites, but I don't love every narrator. This is the first book told by Savannah and I was looking forward to it. She first appeared in book #2, Stolen, as a 12 or 13 year old witch who's mom had just been murdered. Since then she's appeared on and off as a side character, but now at 21 she's getting her first book. She's always been sassy, smart, determined and just a little dangerous, and I've always liked her, even when she was being a brat. So I figured there was a good chance I'd enjoy her story and I was looking forward to getting to know her better. Turns out, I really love her. This is one of the best Otherworld books of the series to date. For me, it's second only to book #1 Bitten, and possible book #10 Frostbitten, both told by my favourite narrator, Elena.

Savannah's story sucked me in right from the start. She's still the sassy, smart girl she's always been, and hungry to prove herself. Now she wants to take on a case solo and with Paige and Lucas (the people who raised her after her mother's death and also her bosses) on vacation and her associate (and long time crush) Adam away at a conference, now seems like the prefect time. In steps Jesse, a young PI who's worked with Lucas before, and is now looking for some help on a triple homicide case with apparent ritualistic aspects of the supernatural variety. Savannah jumps at the chance and heads to small town Columbus to see if she can solve the case. But it doesn't take long before she's making enemies and with a distinct supernatural possibility Savannah soon realises she may be next on the killers hit list.

All those traits that made her a loud mouth some times bratty kid, she uses to great advantage to work the people she needs information from. She can be brutally honest, but she's also happy to spin some pretty big tales when required. Savannah is a girl who hates to be seen as weak or vulnerable, she won't let it happen, but that doesn't mean she doesn't get scared. And it doesn't mean she doesn't have a softer side, something we've rarely seen until now. I loved getting deeper in to her head and figuring out how she works, how she thinks. She has to make some hard decisions and learns some tough lessons through this book which took their toll on her, maybe more so than we get to see here.

It was also fun getting to know Adam a little better through the eyes of someone who wants a lot more than friendship from him. But he's no the only guy who has Savannah's attention here. There is also Dallas Detective Michael Kennedy. He's the older brother of one of the victims and he arrives in Columbus at the same time as Savannah, hoping to solve the case as well. I loved the way they played off each other, particularly as Savannah's quite often shown great disregard for humans.

The story flows really well, mixing a little police procedural with witchcraft, and throws a few big shocks in along the way. I had a really hard time putting it down. Savannah is a great character to get to know, but like previous books, Kelley does a great job of creating secondary characters to love, or loathe, as well. Another plus point to this book is seeing Savannah's thoughts on some incidents that happened several books ago. She's played some big roles in the series before, despite this being the first book from her perspective, and learning how she's felt and dealt with some of those things adds something to it. There were some surprisingly intense and emotional moments in this book as well, and my heart went out to Savannah on more than one occasion. She's someone who uses a lot of her spunk to cover some pretty big issues at times, more so than I'd first have guessed.

This book has a few firsts for the series in it, but one of the most surprising ones is the ending. It was a great build up and left things completely hanging. None of the previous books have had a cliff hanger ending, but this one sure does! It's very well done and I love it as much as I hate it. The shock and surprise was felt and I'm gutted to have to wait til July next year for book #12, Spell Bound, which is also narrated (thankfully!) by Savannah.

I said it already, but I will repeat myself. This is one of the best Otherworld books to date. Kelley continues to weave great stories with great characters to keep this series fresh. With a series this long it's like settling down with an old friend for a catch up, but there is plenty of new things to keep it really interesting. If you're a fan of the Otherworld books, this is one not to be skipped! If you've yet to try them, I strongly recommend starting with book 1, Bitten, although it's not strictly needed. There is enough explanation given that you don't miss anything big with each new book, only small things, and it doesn't overload readers who've read all the previous books with repeated info. Just enough of a refresher of the most important aspects. A really great read, and I'm very excited for more books from Savannah's point of view.

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Wait For Dusk Excerpt!!

Pray For Dawn was the 4th Dark Days book from Jocelynn Drake and it ended on a killer cliffhanger. Book 5, Wait For Dusk, is out in a week, July 27th, but there is a excerpt, the first 67 pages infact, now up with HarperCollins browse inside feature!! So for a sneak peek of what happened after Pray For Dawn, here it is:

Now if I just had the rest of it already...

Shiny New VA Stuff

It's no secret at all that I'm obsessed with the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It's dark, sassy, smart and whilst featuring a (very hot) Russian love interest, he's not all Rose thinks about. She is completely capable of taking care of herself, she doesn't rely on others to do the ass kicking. And on top of fantastic characters, it's set in a world filled with myth and legend. Aside from featuring real vampires (definitely no sparkling going on here!!), it's got a hierarchy of mortal vampires, dhampirs and the evil, soulless killers. Much to sink your teeth in to and enjoy (pun maybe intended..). So forgive me a link heavy post of VA awesome.

First up, the final cover for the final book in Rose's story, Last Sacrifice, is finally live! Well, the US version anyway. Unfinished versions have been floating around for a while, but this is the final one, as Richelle posted on her blog in the early hours of this morning (for me anyway).
I can't say it's my favourite, the old and new Shadow Kiss covers still hold that spot with me, but I do like it. And I'm very glad 'Rose' is no longer blond like she was on earlier versions! She still doesn't look like Rose, but darker hair is a start ;)

Also, there is an Official Vampire Academy movie page on facebook, run by Preger Entertainment who hold the rights for VA. It is not a for sure thing it will get made, it's only been optioned so far, but fan support is a must, so if you like the series, join it!!

There is now a company, Arcane Vault, who supply official Vampire Academy merchandise as well, and they offer international shipping. Only a couple of designs are available at present, but they are in the process of making more. According to their facebook page, some of the new one should be up in the next 2-3 weeks. Their facebook page which has latest updates on new designs and stuff is here. I've been following it since the VA line was added a few weeks ago and they're good about replying to questions and they're happy to hear suggestions! Good people to follow if you like VA.

Other big things Richelle revealed recently: the Promise Mark and Zvezda mark artwork. If you don't know the series, these won't make sense, but if you do then you will know I'm talking about the tattoos Guardians are given. The Promise mark is given when a novice graduates and becomes a Guardian. The Zvezda is the battle mark, given for killing lots of Strigoi in battle. These marks are in addition to the Molnija mark (for killing a single Strigoi), which the artwork for has been around for a while. If you don't know and are curious, Molnija is Russian for lightning, and Zvezda is Russian for star.
Promise mark

I love both these marks, and the molnija, and I'm glad that they'll be available on clothes via Arcane Vault soon! Here ends my VA/link heavy post.

[EDIT} Oh no. Wait, missed one. This has been around for a while, but still totally deserves a mention and should be checked out. Vampire Academy jewellery! Sold by Psynde on Etsy, here. It's beautiful hand crafted items and I've got several peices. They're all fantastic! She offers other items as well and you should totally check those out too. Okay. Now I'm really done.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Contest To Check Out! [3]

Lisa Desrochers, author of Personal Demons which is due for release September 14th, is offering the chance to win an ARC of it or one of a few other new YA books. I just read the first chapter of Personal Demons (which she's got posted in three sections here, here and here) and I'm already falling in love with it. Very hot. For contest details go to her post for it here. For more details on the book, check out her blog:

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. With her life about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.
But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people—suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug."
Jennifer's previous romantic drama book, Going Too Far, is incredible. It's one of my favourite YA books of all time and because of it, I was really looking forward to this book. I wasn't let down. I do prefer Going Too Far, it would be hard to top it, or match it, but this is still a great read and if you liked Going Too Far then you should enjoy this one too. If you've not read it, then you should read this one as well as Going Too Far, as soon as possible.

Zoey is trying very hard to hold her life together. It's been falling apart for a while, but then one incident fractures it completely. Zoey makes a surprising, and not altogether smart, choice which causes her to try and do everything a certain way, the right way. But then the car crash happens and everything changes again. She's desperate to find out the truth of that night, without anyone, her best friends, her boyfriend, her swim team, finding out she doesn't know anything about that night. Or worse, that her family life is in crisis. Easier said than done. And strangely, the guy who's hated her for years, Doug, seems most willing to help.

I really enjoyed this book. Zoey's vulnerability and strong outer front drew me in and I had a hard time putting the book down. She's got a lot of issues to deal with, a lot of weight resting on her shoulders when it shouldn't be. I really felt for her as she struggled to figure out the events of that night and what happened to her, and also as she tried to deal with her family as they fell apart.

I think my favourite thing about Jennifer's work is how well she manages to write characters that come alive on the page. Love them, hate them, get mad at them, feel their pain, whatever it is, you feel it. I just feel like I get really involved with her stories and characters. The plot here is intense and troubled. Zoey doesn't make things easy for herself and some less-than-smart decisions make matters worse. But at the same time I could see exactly where she was coming from and what made her make the choices she did, even if they weren't all that great, or down right dumb. I felt so bad for her knowing those decisions were going to make things worse for her and knowing they had to happen anyway. And Doug and Zoey play so well off of each other as well. The chemistry between them slowly changes and grows in intensity as Zoey begins to figure out what happens adding more and more to both their characters.

I love how the characters grow and change through the book, most learning from some of the mistakes they've made and coming out better for them on the other side. That's how life is, people screw up, learn, grow and change, and it's not sugar coated here. It's a great read with fantastic characters and a gripping plot as Zoey attempts to discover the truth of the night of the crash and deal with it. The ending is intense, painful and brilliant. Incredibly hard to put down and I'd highly recommend it. 9/10

Friday, 16 July 2010

Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk

SPOILER warning. This is the 4th book in the Allie Beckstrom series and there are spoilers for earlier books. If you're up to date with the series, you're fine reading this.

"'Magic stirred in me...I closed my eyes, wanting to lose myself to it. Wanting to use magic in every way I could. But that would be bad. I had enough magic inside me; I could burn down a city. And I didn't want to do that...'

Allison Beckstrom knows better than most that when magic's involved, you always pay. Whether the price is migraines, amnesia, or muscle aches, she is committed to her work as a Hound, tracing illegal spells back to their casters. But her job is about to get much more dangerous. There's a storm of apocalyptic force bearing down on Portland, and when it hits, all the magic in the area will turn unstable and destructive. To stop it from taking out the entire city, Allie and her lover, the mysterious Zayvion Jones, must work with the Authority - the enigmatic arbiters of all things magic - and make a stand against a magical wild storm that will obliterate all in it's path."

Set 2 months after the end of Magic in the Shadows, Allie has had a pretty quiet time. She's been learning to fight, control her magic, starting to set things up for the Hounds and her dead father who's possessing her has been pretty quiet too. Allie enjoys the down time but knows it can't last. Sure enough, a wild magic storm is blowing in and it's bigger than most. More members of the Authority are being called in to try and help control it, or at least stop it levelling Portland. They may in theory all play for the same side but tensions are high. Allie has been warned a war is about to erupt within the Authority and she realises this storm may just be the spark it needs.

This is probably my favourite of the Allie Beckstrom series so far. Like the books before it there is a lot going on, with many hidden agendas and you can never be completely sure who to trust or what's going to happen next. I had a really hard time putting the book down, particularly towards the end. There were a few big shocks and the more intense it got, the more difficult it was to put down! I love the magical side to these books, the way it works, the price it costs, and the plots surrounding it and the Authority. It's cleverly crafted making a lot possible, but more impossible. But more than that I love the interplay between Allie, Zay and Shame. This book sees the addition of several new characters and one of them is Terric, who became a new favourite within a couple of pages. He's got a fair bit of history with Zay and Shame, add him to the mix and things got really interesting.

Likewise, I love the growth of the characters, Allie in particular, and the way we gradually learn more about them though the books. Allie has a lot resting on her shoulders already but she's always willing to throw herself deeper in trouble to help her friends, even though she's often terrified and doesn't really know what she's doing. She's capable and learns from her mistakes. I also love how Allie isn't afraid to ask tough questions, particularly of those she loves. She can push too far, but she does it in an attempt to understand them better, to better help and support them, if she can. Allie faces huge new battles in this book, both personal and with the Authority. I like how she handles them, not without fear or worry but with the determination to do the right thing.

Aside from the Authority, there is the continuation of Allie with her Hounds, and the fall out Davy is having to deal with from the blood magic Greyson and Tomi worked on him. And Greyson is someone Allie needs to worry a lot about. The Authority have him contained, but Allie's convinced that doesn't stop him being dangerous. And now that Zayvion and Allie know for sure they're Soul Complements, things between them are a little more complicated than before.

The ending was intense and explosive. It just kept growing with new twists. It answered some questions and left a whole lot more in their wake. Lots of shock, pain and sadness, I felt every bump. It did some nice setting up for the next book, but left with Allie in a place where I was desperate to know what happens next. Another well written, entertaining, intense Allie Beckstrom book and I am really looking forward to the next book, Magic At The Gate, in November. 9/10

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Looking Forward To...

So I said in my best of early 2010 post that I'd get up a looking forward to post for the rest of the year up soon. That was a few weeks ago and I haven't. Oops. Never mind, it's here now.

The first half of 2010 has had some awesome releases, but I am just as excited for the second half of it. There are a few final books to series/trilogies coming out which I'm at the same time desperate for and wanting to put off, because I don't want them over. Some debut releases which look and sound fantastic. And the next books in several series that I adore. Listing every upcoming release on my wish list would take a really long while, so here are the highlights and why I'm looking forward to them. (Most of the dates listed are US ones. UK and other countries may differ, check Amazon or whatever book retailer you use for more info. Or order from Book Depository who ship free to most of the world)

Forget You by Jennifer Echols. Standalone book [YA, contemporary, romance] - I actually just read this yesterday (review coming) and loved it. But official release date hasn't passed yet, so I'm leaving it on the list. It's awesome! First chapter is online here. Out July 20th

Waking The Witch by Kelley Armstrong. The Otherworld #11 [urban fantasy] - first book from Savannah's POV who we've seen growing up since book #2. Excited to see what she's really like. Chapters 1-3 here. Out July 27th

Wait For Dusk by Jocelynn Drake. Dark Days #5 [urban fantasy] - Pray For Dawn had a killer cliff hanger, and the blurb for this one only adds to it. This is one I am dying for. Out July 27th

Jealousy by Lili St Crow. Strange Angels #3 [YA, urban fantasy] - after the end of Betrayals, I'm very, very excited to see what happens next for Dru and Graves. Okay, Christophe too, but Graves in my guy ;) Mostly though, I love this series because Dru is another female protagonist who is strong, can stand up for herself, she's flawed, and boys aren't all she thinks about. Out July 29th.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. [YA, dystopia] - if you've not yet read the first Hunger Games book, you need to. It is immense and it will explain why this is one of the books I've most wanted all year, let alone just the later half. Out August 24th

Blameless by Gail Carriger. Parasol Protectorate #3. [steampunk, urban fantasy, paranormal romance] - Soulless and Changeless were fantastic, funny, intense and brilliant. Changeless ending on a killer cliff hanger, and I have a desperate need to know what happens next! Out September 1st

Return To Paradise by Simone Elkeles. Sequel to Leaving Paradise. [YA, contemporary, romance] - Leaving Paradise is one of the very best YA books I've ever read. I can not wait for the continuation of Caleb and Maggie's story. Out September 1st (discrepancy on date with 3 different sites, so this may be wrong, apologies if it is!)

Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews. The Edge #2. [urban fantasy, fantasy, paranormal romance...take your pick] - Ilona and Gordon's Kate Daniels series is immense, but this secondary series of theirs is also very good. Loved the first book and really looking forward to this second one about werewolf William! Out September 28th

Alpha by Rachel Vincent. Shifters #6 [urban fantasy] - this is another book that's been at the very top of my most wanted list. The final book in Rachel's awesome Shifters series. Books 4 and 5 were just incredible, and there is much left unanswered as the war between Prides comes to a head. The ending should be something! Chapter one is here. Out October 1st

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. Debut book, first of series. [YA, urban fantasy] - werewolf book I've been hearing a lot about lately. Stunning cover and the blurb sounds great. First chapter? Totally awesome!! It's here if you want to read it, and you really should! Very excited to read the rest of it because I'm already really hooked. Out October 19th

Magic At The Gate by Devon Monk. Allie Beckstrom #5. [urban fantasy] - Magic on the Storm, Allie #4, was fantastic (review coming soon) my favourite of the series yet. But its another one that left on a cliff hanger with a lot possible and a lot far from good for Allie! Loving this series a lot and looking forward to finding out what happens next. Out November 2nd

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead. Vampire Academy #6. [YA, urban fantasy] - anyone who's spent even a little time talking with me, or followed the blog for a short time, will know that Vampire Academy is one of my biggest obsessions and one of my all time favourite series. So of course the final book has been top of my must have list for a long while! Bittersweet because I'll be very sad to see the end of Rose and Dimitri's story, but very, very excited to see just how it ends. Only one thing I'm 100% sure of and that's that Richelle will have something surprising in store, because that's been the case for almost all of her books, YA and adult. Out December 7th.

Few others I'm looking forward to:
Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost [paranormal romance] Out July 27th
As Lie The Dead by Kelly Meding [urban fantasy] Out July 27th
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White [YA, urban fantasy] Out August 31st
Firelight by Sophie Jordan [YA, fantasy] Out September 7th
Something Wicked by Michelle Rowen [paranormal romance] Out October 5th
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick [YA, paranormal romance] Out October 14th
Matched by Ally Condie [YA, dystopia] Out November 30th

And a couple anthologies with great author line ups to also watch for:
Kiss Me Deadly [YA, paranormal romance] Edited by Trishia Telep, authors incl. Rachel Vincent, Karen Mahoney, Becca Fitzpatrick, Carrie Ryan, Michelle Rowen + more. Out August 3rd
Kisses From Hell [YA, paranormal romance] Authors Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Mead, Alyson Noel, Kristin Cast and Francesca Lia Block. Out August 24th.
Dark and Stormy Knights [urban fantasy] Edited by P. N. Elrod, authors inlc. Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, Vicki Pettersson + more. Out 20th July (Book Depository has it in stock already)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti

"The ups and downs of love and friendship.

Rhiannon is devastated after the break up with her boyfriend and wants him back. But love comes easy for Nicole. Her ex is still in the picture, but she has a new crush. Then there's James, hopelessly in love with Rhiannon, who doesn't see that their friendship can be more. Just when things couldn't get more complicated, the school's resident mean girl decides to ruin everyone's life. James, Nicole, and Rhiannon won't let this slide, but will taking down the mean girl bring these friends what they want?"

Set over the course of a week, this book tells the story of three friends, from each of their perspectives. We start off with Rhiannon, who is devastated at having been dumped by her boyfriend Steve, and desperate to have him back. We follow her story through til the middle of the week, then switch to her best friend Nicole and get those same three days from her POV. Then we get them from their other friend, James. Repeat for the second half of the week/book.

Now, that may make it sound repetitive or boring, or maybe just frustrating because you're going over the same things and obviously these three characters interact a lot. But it actually really works! I loved this book and really struggled to put it down. Yes, stepping back in time means the story stops before moving on, but it's so worth it. You get more of the story from each person, learning more about them, and the other characters. There are three main stories going on, one for Rhiannan, Nicole and James, but there are side stories going on as well. There are bits of information gained via each of the three narrators about other students in the school who also have a story to tell, even if it doesn't take center stage.

The set up works really well because each of the three main characters has a strong voice and something to show. It also means the book doesn't center on a single person, or a couple even. And the added side stories show that these three students are not the only ones in that high school with problems and issues, which I love. I wanted more of some of the side stories as much as I wanted more of Rhiannon, Nicole and James. There was a lot of emotion and feeling, with some surprises to go with the side stories.

Of the three narrators, I'd have to say my least favourite was Rhiannon. I liked her a lot, but for whatever reason I found James and Nicole a little easier to get on with and more likable. But even so, I very much enjoyed all of their sections. The story deepened with each new voice, each new perspective because is showed more of the narrators we'd already seen, but from an outside perspective. It showed a wider world consisting of more than any one person, it showed different aspects to side stories, side characters, and opened up a whole new host of possibilities.

This is not a simple love story, though yes romance has a strong hold in it. But it's as much a coming of age book, of the strength of friendships, of learning who you are and what you're capable of. And how the past changes you, even if you're trying not to let it. Running only gets you so far.

Overall, it was an excellent read. I loved learning more from each character, the new hints at things and how they all learnt over the course of this one week. It shows how little things, or big things, have an impact and how life can change really quickly. The whole story unfolds slowly and carefully, gathering pace towards the end. I found my emotions rising and falling along with Rhiannon, Nicole and James. There are some surprising moments through this book, and while you can see a lot of things coming, it's still done in a way that still left me feeling the impact of the events. This is another author who I've fallen for because she doesn't talk down to readers. Her characters are real and relateable, screwing up, making fools of themselves, learning, they have dreams and ambitions, strength, thoughts, feelings, and they could be any teen in any high school anywhere. Loved this book completely and I can't wait to read the rest of Susane's books. 9/10

Sunday, 11 July 2010

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

"A boy, a girl, and the possibility of something real...

Seniors in high school, Sara and Tobey couldn't be more different. She wants to get into her first-choice college; he wants to win Battle of the Bands. Sara's other goal is to find true love, so when popular Dave asks her out, she's thrilled. But Tobey always creeps into her thoughts. Lucky for Sara, one of Tobey's goals is also to make her fall in love with him."

I've not read anything by Susane Colasanti before, but I've had a couple of her books on my wish list for a while. I did something I rarely do with an author I've not tried before, and actually ordered 2 of her books together, this one and 'Take Me There'. I started with this one and was very happy with what I found, and glad I took the chance and ordered two of her books.

Sara is smart, like, really smart and she doesn't go for slackers. But she's a romantic as well and searching for a serious love, something that will last, someone who can be her everything. Tobey is a slacker, he doesn't work at anything but still manages to do okay in his exams. He's determined not to go to college and to make it on the music scene with his band anyway. But he's also in love with Sara. He's certain they'll be perfect together and that one of the most popular guys in school, who's just asked her out, isn't nearly good enough for her. When Tobey starts making his interest clear, sparks start to fly.

Okay, so I admit this is a fairly predictable, slightly fluffy, young adult romance, but I really enjoyed it. It's told in alternating POV's from Tobey and Sara, and we get to see the same events through both eyes at times. Which to start with, took a little getting used to as it meant it kept jumping back a little to go forward. But it does work, really well. And it makes for a good way to tell the story of these characters who were easy to like and easy to relate to. The whole high school dynamic, the geeks, the jocks, the popular girls, was all there. It wasn't softened, ignored, or over used. It was just 'this is high school' and could easily be any high school.

The way Sara and Tobey thought, the way they see things, felt very realistic. And without giving anything away, the different male/female attitudes towards sex. And while I did really like both characters, there were times I didn't like them completely. Which for me, is a good thing. Makes them more real, because you never like someone, even someone you love, every second of every day, of every year. It just doesn't happen. I love characters I can get behind and get mad at and forgive. It makes them more real, makes them more interesting and makes for a better book.

I did mention that this book is a little fluffy at times. But that doesn't mean romance is all there is and it doesn't mean it doesn't come with some problems. There are a some little twists, things that could easily happen to anyone, that raise issues they have to deal with. The development of both characters over the course of the book is aided by their friends as well. Both of them have two best friends, and the relationships between them all add to the depth of the book, but also show how friendships can affect things as well. There are little side stories with the friends that we get to see parts of as well, which I liked. It meant they had more purpose than simply 'best friend of...'

Overall, it was a really enjoyable read, and one I struggled to put down. I was rooting for Sara and Tobey separately and together, hoping they'd grow and learn from everything going on and that they'd get what they were looking for. However, the last quarter of the book or so did feel a little rushed. Not badly, but it didn't feel like it quite had the depth the earlier part did. The timeline jumps got bigger and somethings seemed like they got skipped over a little. But the ending did tie things up nicely and satisfied me. It's not a huge issue, but it did let it down just slightly for me. Still a really good read, and exactly the type of book I wanted to read at that moment. Will be getting the rest of Susane's backlist very soon! 8/10

Contest To Check Out!

Over at Confessions of a Bookaholic, there is a giveaway (two infact) in progress to win a copy of one of three of Jennifer Echols books!

Contest 1 is open to US residents and is a signed copy of either Going Too Far, Endless Summer, or the soon to be released Forget You.

Contest 2 is open internationally (well, anywhere Book Depository ships) and is for a copy of any of the three books listed above (these won't come signed).

I read Going Too Far last year and was stunned by it. Seriously. It's immense and awesome. I couldn't stop thinking about it and rereading it for weeks. I'm hoping my copy of Forget You arrives on Tuesday, and I'm planning on getting Endless Summer in a week or so. If you've not tried Jennifer's books before, then you should as soon as possible!! And if you've enjoyed her books already, then you won't want to miss the contest! Head over to the post (linked at the start of this post) for full details/rules and entry forms. (closes 20th July)

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo

Warning: I rant a little in this one. And it does contain spoilers in the middle, which are marked before hand and at the end of them.

"Miracles happen, even for dark horses like Albert Kim. Stunningly, the most unattainable girl at Bern High like him, and may turn in to his actual girlfriend. But the fates have a zeal for irony..."

Social outcast Albert Kim is an American born Asian, with strict Asian parents who are all about his grades and his future. But by a bit of luck he gets to spend his summer working instead of as some summer school camp thing. There he finds himself working alongside the schools hottest girl, Mia. Who just happens to have recently split with her long term boyfriend, the most popular jock, Ryan. They spend the summer working together and it's good, he can tell they'll be 'something'. But then school starts again and things get complicated. And then disaster strikes. Ryan is diagnosed with cancer. After that, all bets are off as to what happens.

I was looking for a break from fantasy books for a bit and this was one of 3 I randomly decided to get. I kind of which I hadn't bothered with this one though. it's told in first person from Albert's POV and the guy is...odd. Socially awkward teens I get, but I just couldn't get on with Albert. The book has several quotes on it stating it as 'hilarious' and 'witty', maybe my sense of humor is warped, but I found very little funny. There was the odd moment that was, but most of the 'jokes' were painfully delivered and just didn't hit the mark for me. It's a little oddly paced, jumping around back and forth a bit, and I struggled to get in to it for any length of time. It was certainly different, with the ex getting cancer and Mia being torn between the two. Not to mention just how friendless and strange Albert is.

Spoilers ahead...

My biggest problems with this book though? Albert and Mia were pretty much unlikable through most of the book. Albert isn't just an outcast, he's a very strange guy with serious issues. Instead of admitting any problems with Ryan, or Mia, or just walking away when he should, he gets crazy and nasty, and very unlikable for it. He's none too smart when it comes to Mia clearly not being over Ryan and clearly treating him as a rebound. And when it goes badly? He ends up spying on Mia with a telescope. Stalker psycho much? Mia. Drove me up the wall. I get her being upset about her and Ryan, even though she pulled the plug, I get the rebound impulse with Albert. I do not get her not seeing that she was being a complete bitch to Albert when Ryan was sick. And even before that, how she was unwilling to really admit to being anything with Albert or how she really didn't seem to notice his feelings about anything in anyway. She was nice as could be trying to help Ryan through his cancer and everything, but she noticed nothing about the guy she's 'something' with now? I tired of her really quickly.

Another problem I had was how the entire town turned in to this cult to support Ryan. Aside from Albert thinking they were being over zealous, only one other person at the school thought so too, and he was someone who kept sort of being Albert's friend. Even the younger kids next door attacked Albert when they realised it was Ryan he was mad at. It was just...crazy. Like no one had any common sense any more. I completely understand getting behind someone who has cancer to support him/her, but this was just completely over the top.

/rant. (and spoilers).

The book did have a few okay moments, it wasn't a total disaster for me. But it wasn't something I enjoyed much at all. The ending was okay, if predictable like the rest of the book, but it did nothing to make me like any of the characters any more. Aside from Albert, who was mostly strange verging on psycho, most of the characters were pretty flat with little to them and emotions flipping from one thing to another with little reason. Definitely not a fan of this book and I doubt I'd pick up anything else by the author. A shame really, because it's got the premise to be a reasonable book. But I'd recommend to not bother with this one. 3/10

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Contest To Check Out

The Undercover Book Lover is hosting a giveaway for 5 ARC's that all sound great! Up for grabs:
Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller
Halo - Alexandra Adornetto
Pegasus - Robin McKinley

And better yet, the contest is open internationally. Just visit the post here to enter!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

'"My name is Meghan Chase. In less than twenty-four hours I'll be sixteen. Countless stories, songs and poems have been written about this wonderful age, when a girl finds true love and the stars shine for her and the handsome prince carries her off into the sunset. I don't think it will be that way for me."

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny - one she could never have imagined...

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school...or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's know is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face...and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart."

This is the first book in a YA series, The Iron Fey. I am not very often a big fan of fey central books, and in fact with the exception of Jenna Black's YA Glimmerglass, and Richelle Mead's adult series Dark Swan, I've never more than liked a series/book focusing on fey. So I wasn't too sure about trying this one. I ended up enjoying it a lot though. I don't love it, it's not going to be a favourite, but it is still a good read.

Meghan lives with her mom, step dad and 4 year-old half-brother Ethan. Ethan is often saying that he sees and hears things, things that can't possibly be real. Except Meghan is about to find out they are real, and far more terrifying than she could think. Her sweet sixteen comes with humiliation, followed by the discovery that her little brother could be in danger. All the while being watched by a guy on a black horse, who seems to disappear and reappear at will. Her best friend Robbie, a big time prankster, is being serious and protective, something she's not seen from him before. All this leads to a big discovery. Not only do faeries exist, but Meghan is one of them, daughter of the Summer King. And now the most wanted pawn in faerie.

The book started out well, if a little slow, and built well through the book. There was a lot of action, several good twists and a lot of unanswered questions. Meghan is pretty smart and deals fairly well with what's thrown at her. She grows in confidence and competence as she sees more of the faerie and how they act. Robbie is entertaining and a little crazy at times, but he's loyal to Meghan and a character I really liked. Likewise I really liked Ash, the Winter Court prince, and cait sith Grimalkin. The romance between Meghan and Ash builds slowly and never become a central focus but still got a decent amount of attention.

The faery world is magical and dangerous as it should be. The faery's aren't all sweetness and nice and there is the age old battle between the Winter and Summer Courts. I really like the twist with the Iron fey, and in particular I loved the nicknamed 'pack rats'. The ending was pretty tense with enough conclusion, whilst still leaving a lot open for the next book. Overall it's a really good book, it's well written with the characters and their emotions coming across really well. I really felt for Meghan several times as she had to make some tough decisions. I didn't love it, but I'd still recommend it. If you're someone who, unlike me, really likes fey stories, then this is one you won't want to miss. There is a short story ebook (which I believe is free), Winters Passage, which is set between this one, and the second book The Iron Daughter (out August 2010). I'm looking forward to reading both and seeing how things continue for Meghan. 7/10

Thursday, 1 July 2010

UK Cover Love!!

Rachel Vincent's YA Soul Screamers series are (finally) coming to the UK next year. Book 1, My Soul To Take should be out January and the others after that, but no dates yet. Rachel just posted the covers for the UK editions on her blog and I love them!! The US covers are very pretty and it was going to be hard to top them, but personally, I prefer these UK covers. They're stunning! So much so I know that me being me, I'm going to end up getting them, despite having US editions already. So what do ya think?

Pray For Dawn by Jocelynn Drake

Spoiler warning! This is the 4th book in the Dark Days series and there are a few spoilers for earlier ones in this review. If you've yet to start the series, skip this review and just pick up book 1, Nightwalker ;)

"Pray for salvation...

Pray for daylight...

Murder has pulled Mira out of the shadows and back in to the living world...

As the fire-wielding enforcer of the nightwalker cover wrestles with the mind destroying ghosts of her dark past, the slaying of a senator's daughter in Savannah threatens to expose her kind to the brilliant light of day. The dawn of chaos has come. The naturi have broken free of their eternal prison to feed on the defenseless and unbelieving of an unprepared Earth.

Mira and Danaus - vampire and vampire slayer - must unite to prevent the annihilation of their separate races. But for Danaus the challenge if intensified, for he must also fight the bori who covets his soul. And Mira, the nightwalker he must protect - whose power if the Earth's last hope - is rapidly going insane."

This fourth book in the Dark Days series is very different for one big reason: it's told from Danaus POV instead of Mira's. This is the first time we get a look in to the mind of the hunter since we met him in book one. He's fought Mira, promised to kill her, fought alongside her and saved her on more than one occasion. But he's always been a bit of a mystery, never showing that much of himself. Now, finally, we can find out what he really thinks and feels. Towards Mira and about the world around him. He's lived a very long life, seen a lot of wars, lost a lot of friends, and is continually fighting to keep the human world safe from the dark one it doesn't know.

Pray For Dawn picks up a couple of months after the events of book 3, Dawnbreaker, and Danaus is being summoned back to Savannah, Mira's domain. Once there he quickly discovers not everything is well. A senator's daughter is dead and the family are making a lot of noise in the press. The killing wasn't by a human and it could put pressure on the vampire community, so it needs to be hushed up and quickly. Danaus is ordered by Themis leader Ryan, to protect Mira and help figure out who the killer is and what their aim is. Not an easy task at the best of times, but it's harder still when the bori who owns part of Danaus' soul, is fighting for full control, and he's determined to have it.

I loved this book from the start. It was oddly easy to switch from seeing the world from Mira's eyes, to Danaus'. He sees things differently to Mira and has his own personal demons to fight as well. Danaus thinks a lot, sees things in a lot of detail and doesn't miss much. It was very interesting seeing from his POV how he deals with the people around him, what matters to him, how he can/will work with others be they human, vampire, lycan or other. Getting more of his backstory was eye opening as to why he is how he is, why he's so determined to destroy vampires. His relationship with Mira has always been a bit strange. Hunter and vampire forced to work together but promising to kill each other one day. It's been a relationship that's built slowly and I know I'm not alone with the thinking 'will they, won't they get together'. That is something that's continued through this book, clearer than before, but still not front and center and something that's still not got a clear outcome.

A lot happens in this book between the dead girl, Mira's rapidly failing sanity, the naturi and the bori and it was hard to put down. There are some pretty big shocks along the way and a moment that very nearly caused tears for me. Mira's behaviour is off from her first appearance in PfD, but it's not until near the end where we find out just what is going on with the nightwalker. Mira not quite being herself made for some interesting, painful and tense moments, and particularly interesting was how Danaus responded to them. The vast world created in this series is expanded with further knowledge about the bori, and how their presence effects vampires and others. Also a further look in to the workings of the vampires in Mira's domain, of which one scene in particular made for entertaining reading. There is a lot in the way of personal struggles in this book, with Danaus and Mira, and I'd love to see some of the moments of this book from her POV as well. But Danaus made for a great narrator and I'm really, really pleased with how this book came out. I don't always get on with changes of POV and while I was really looking forward to seeing what Danaus really thought of Mira, I wasn't completely sure I'd love this book like I did book 3. Turned out, I really shouldn't have worried because I loved this one more.

Pray For Dawn is my favourite book of the series so far. It's fast, action packed with a very twisting ride of emotions. Seeing the world through different eyes doesn't just change how I viewed Danaus, but certain other characters as well. The ending was tense and fraught with danger not knowing how it was going to end for certain people. And it's a hell of a cliff hanger!! I got to the end and almost screamed in frustration. It's a cruel point to end the book, but at least it's only a month long wait for book 5, Wait For Dusk, which from the blurb (and the cover, if you've seen it, you'll know what I mean) promises to be even more shocking and awesome. Anything longer may well have killed me because it is a very dramatic ending. I've read a lot of cliff hanger endings, but this is one of the worst. I can't wait to find out what happens next for Mira and Danaus (book 5 is back to Mira's POV, out 27th July). And maybe get a glimpse of Mira's thoughts regarding a few certain moments of this one. A fantastic book, a great series, and one that should be read as soon as possible! 9/10