Sunday, 29 August 2010

Blog Silence

Am heading off on a short holiday today. Will be gone until Wednesday and will *shock horror* have no internet access aside from twitter on my phone. If my phone works. Which it often doesn't right now. How I shall survive without hourly internet checks I do not know.

Still. I am heading to the New Forest with my lovely mom who offered to take me away for a few days (due to my having CFS/ME going away alone would have been....well pretty much nearly impossible, even if I could have afforded it, which I can't.). Heading there to see (semi) wild ponies =D Seeing as I love horses more than books (I admit it's a close call but I do) I am very much looking forward to this trip!! I expect to take a crazy amount of photos and only have 2 or 3 semi decent ones from them as I'm terrible with a camera. But it should be good fun anyway, as long as this bug that's trying to attack me holds off and it doesn't rain the whole time (this being England, it's highly likely).

Unlikely I'll post anything when I get back Wednesday, I suspect I'll come in and collapse. But I am taking a huge portion of my TBR shelf with me (mom: "you can take a whole crate of books if you want, then you can just leave them in the car, take what you fancy in to the hotel, but you're not limited by choice." I love my mom.) so hopefully I can spend Thursday/Friday/Saturday posting a few reviews. Of course, this all rests on me being well enough while I'm away to read/finish any books. But I'm hoping for the best! See ya'll soon and have a great week =D

Blameless by Gail Carriger

SPOILER warning!! This is the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series and contains some fairly big spoilers for the previous book, Changeless.

"Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon is the scandal of the London season.
Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampire are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.
While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively, more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires - and they're armed with pesto."

This third Parasol Protectorate book picks up shortly after the end of the previous one, Changeless. Alexia, having been kicked out by her husband, has been forced to move back in with her mother, half-sisters and step-father, somewhere she'd really rather not to be. But it doesn't take long before she realises she's unable to remain there, and with all vampires seemingly intent on her death thanks to her 'infant-inconveniance' she departs for Italy with Madame Lefoux and Floote to help and guide her. Some madness ensues, there and back in London, with Lord Maccon drunk and heart broken, Professor Lyall forced to control the issues left unattended by his alpha, and of course the vampires aren't satisfied with Alexia simply being out of the country.

I loved the first two books in this series. They were smart, funny, full of drama, intrigue and very entertaining. This one was no different. I hated the cliff hanger of Changeless and was very excited for this book. It wasn't a let down at all. Like the previous two, it's told in third person, from a couple of different points of view, mostly Alexia and Professor Lyall's. I just love the writing style for these books. It's short and sharp, bringing together the manners and customs of Victorian England with vampires and werewolves and plenty of action. It's got plenty more laugh out loud moments but still holds a serious edge at times.

I love this series because it's so vivid. All the characters have strong personalities, the setting very well described, along with the various inventions Alexia comes across. It's not hard to imagine what it's like to be there with Alexia and the others. I really felt for Alexia as she struggled to deal with Conall kicking her out, refusing to believe that the baby was his, but at the same time I love how tough she is about it. Refusing to bend to societies pressure that, with such scandal, she should head for the hills. And Lord Maccon, drunk? *snickers*. I love Conall Maccon and his loud, rash nature. The way he and Alexia play off each other and even how Lyall handles him as beta never fails to entertain.

This book moves at a pretty good pace. I thought there were a couple bits that were a little slow, but I've not been too well reading this, so it may just have been my struggle to focus that caused it. There were some good twists and turns and although you can see somethings coming a little ways off, others do come out of nowhere. Really great addition to the series and I'm very excited for the next one, Heartless out July 2011.

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, 28 August 2010


My contest for a £15 Book Depository Gift Card just closed and has spoken. The winner is:

Jessica S.! 

Congrats Jess. Have emailed you, look for my addresss cem_214(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

Thank you everyone who took part and spread the word!! Hoping to be able to offer you new giveaway in the not too distant future!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (spoiler free!)

This review (if you can call it that) is spoiler free for Mockingjay, but does contain spoilers from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I really, really advise you ignore this post because HG is an epic trilogy and you absolutely want no spoilers before starting it.

"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year"

From the back of the UK version: "If we burn, you burn with us." Sent shivers down my spine before I even cracked it open. 

I don't know how to even begin writing a review for this book. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were both epic. They were dark, twisted, very, very real and generally just awesome. Nothing fuzzy, warm or happy about them really, but epic, thought provoking and amazing. I was desperate to know how it was all going to end for Katniss, Gale and Peeta, and the rest of the awesome characters. I knew it wouldn't be an easy ride, I knew it was going to be hell for them all, especially with how Catching Fire ended. But Mockingjay still blew them out of the water. 

It was a very, very painful and tear jerking read. Collins' is brutally honest about the toll of war, on the people involved, on the people who take action, on the innocents caught in the cross fire. I was brought to tears repeatedly and had to take a few breaks reading it because the intensity, the pain was just too much for me. I finished it well over 24 hours ago and I still can't really wrap my head around it all. I found myself trying not to keep sobbing for about an hour after I put the book down, that's the kind of impact it had on me.

Did I love it? Honestly, no, I don't think I did. I don't think I can say that and truly mean it at this point. I hope that with a little time for it to really settle in, I can.

Is is amazing and a worthy conclusion to the trilogy? Yes. Without a doubt it's an epic final book which does the first two justice.

Would I recommend the trilogy? Yes. No question at all this is one of the greatest YA trilogies/books/series that exists and I would recommend it without fail. But, that said, it's not warm romantic or happy. It's war in all it's brutality and loss of innocence. It is not an easy read. Not a fun beach, vacation, rainy day read. It's intense from page one through to the last, it doesn't let up, it tears you apart and asks huge questions.

Was I disappointed about anything? Yes. But detailing that would be spoiling it. I will say that there is a outcome I didn't like, still can't accept. War changes people, I know that, I've got an uncle who's ex-army, been to Iraq and I've heard the stories, seen what it does to him as he speaks of it and can't begin to imagine how I'd cope in Katniss' world. But despite that, despite everything, the changes brought in one character disappointed me and the outcome it meant for them disappointed me. From how that character was shown from books 1 and 2 it didn't quite tally with me. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm asking too much, but it's how I feel about it.

The ending was brutal, and if I'm being honest, that thing that disappointed me? For me, meant a taint on that ending, it didn't give me what I wanted, though with how things went I do understand it. Its the second thing that disappointed me about the book, but I think they're the only things that do. Fairly major disappointments for me, but they can't take away from the greatness of this trilogy, not truly. Because this trilogy has never been about a romantic love triangle (which yes, does get a resolution, but I won't say anything beyond that on the subject), or a girl standing up to a bad guy or two. It's been about war. A different world, a different life, from ours sure, but we've all seen the images, heard the stories. Some know those involved, or have been themselves even. That's what this trilogy is about, war, the darkness that causes it, the darkness that comes with it, and the darkness that follows.

Mockingjay is a fitting end to this epic trilogy, and of course a must read for fans of the first two. But I warn you it is far more brutal than either of the first two, and I while I can honestly say it's amazingly done and one of the very best YA series that exist, I do not love it. It is not something I feel I can love, though I hope that can change with a little time and perspective. I suppose it deserves full marks for what it is, for everything it says, for the trilogy as a whole and this book alone, yes it gets full marks and then some. But on a personal level, it can't. Not with how disappointed I feel about that one character, that one outcome. I feel almost wrong giving it less than it deserves, but that's just my opinion. 8/10

BBB Event with Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of the awesome Raised By Wolves, is today guest blogging/chatting on Bitten By Books and she's offering a prize of a $50 Amazon gift card to one commenter!! Head over to the page here, read what is a very cool post, follow the rules for entering by answering/asking questions. Oh, and better yet, the giveaway is open internationally! Very much recommend checking it out because it's a very interesting post highlighting some awesome teen/child characters in adult fiction! Most of my faves amoung them.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog post hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that highlights the future releases we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW book this week is one that is out very soon, September 7th, Firelight by Sophie Jordan.
" With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret."

You can Browse Inside this book at HarperTeen's website here. It's that feature that made this a must have for me, though I was going to read it anyway, because I was hooked within moments and just wanted the rest of the book asap! What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading which offers the chance to share a snippet of what you're currently reading.

The Rules:
1. Grab your current read2. Open to a random page
3. Share 2 SPOILER FREE 'teaser' lines from that page
4. List the author/title etc

I'm currently rereading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins waiting until I can get my hands on Mockingjay.
"As the days pass, things go from bad to worse. The mines stay shut for two weeks, and by that time half of District 12 is starving."
~ page 159

Title: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA, Dystopia

Monday, 23 August 2010

Contest To Check Out! [5]

Reading Teen is doing a Back To School Giveaway for the chance to choose your pick of masses of books including several ARC's! Some really great titles up for grabs and it's open internationally! Check out the post here for details/to enter. It ends 24th September.

Some of the titles included that I really want to get my hands on are:
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Duff by Kody Keplinger
The Eternal Ones by Kristen Miller
You by Charles Benoit

But there are masses more to choose from! So go check it out.

Also, don't forget my own contest for a £15 Book Depository gift card, which ends this Friday!! Just click the contests tab at the top of the page, also open internationally.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila at Book Journey which gives the chance to share what we've been reading over the past week, and are going to be reading in the coming one.

For one reason and another I only managed two new (to me) books last week,

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (review)
As Lie The Dead by Kelly Meding (review)

Over the weekend I've been rereading The Hunger Games books before Mockingjay is out. Hunger Games review here and Catching Fire here.

Up first for me this week, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins!
Also should get Blameless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #3) in the post some point this week, which I'm very excited for!
Will probably be followed by the Kisses From Hell anthology which features short stories from two of my favourite authors, Richelle Mead and Kelley Armstrong, as well as others.
Past that, not sure what I'll be reading! I'm heading away on a short vacation on Sunday, til Wednesday, which will limit some reading a bit.

Eek!! 2 days left!!

Less than 48 hours (just a few hours in the US, lucky sods) til Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is finally released!! And the first official snippet is now available! Scholastic have a clip of her reading from the very start of chapter one on their blog today and WOW is all I can say. It's intense and sent shivers down my spine. Almost had me in tears already as well right at the end of it. If you're someone who wants to avoid all Mockingjay moments until you have the book in your hands then I can understand you skipping this, but if you're willing to start it already (as I am) then do not ignore this!! It doesn't contain true spoilers because it's from the start of chapter one.

And if you're somone who still hasn't read The Hunger Games, seriously, what the hell are you waiting for? Avoid all Mockingjay spoilers like the plauge cause they will ruin the series for you I'm sure. Desperate to have Mockingjay to finally find out what happens! And I was late to the table having only read them for the first time about 6 months ago! Okay, enough HG love, back to rereading Catching Fire.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

As Lie The Dead by Kelly Meding

SPOILER WARNING. This is the sequel to 'Three Days To Dead' and contains some spoilers from it, so if you've not yet read book 1, I suggest skipping this.

"Evangeline Stone, a rogue bounty hunter, never asked for a world divided between darkness and light...

...or the power to die and live agian in someone else's borrowed body. After a murder plot meant to take her out leaves an entire race of shapeshifters nearly extinct, Evy is gnawed by guilt. So when one of the few survivors of the slaughter enlists her aid, she feels duty-bound to help - even though protecting a frail, pregnant shifter is the last thing Evy needs, especially with the world going to hell around her.
Amid weres, Halfies, gremlins, vamps - and increasingly outgunned humans - a war for supremacy is brewing. With shifters demanding justice, her superiors desperate to control her, and an assassin on her trail, Evy discovers a horrifying conspiracy. And she may be the only person in the world who can stop it - unless, of course, her own side gets her first."

This second Evy Stone book picks up exactly where the first one left off. Evy, Wyatt, the surviving hunters and their handlers are clearing up the mess from the battle that kept a rift between worlds from being opened. But it cost 6 hunters, and Wyatt briefly, their lives. The events that led to the battle, the Triad's betrayal, means that Evy knows there is still a lot to sort out. She'd rather just go home and sleep for a week or two, try and work out her feelings for her handler Wyatt. And figure out how do deal with being in a different body, sharing Chalice's emotional memories.

Just as she and Wyatt arrive back at the apartment Chalice and Alex shared though, her troubles pick up again. One of the last surviving Owlkins demands her protection for his people, and the person responsible for the fire that killed the rest of them to be brought to him. Evy knows that finding that person, someone high up the food chain, an invisible person who'd identity is hidden for a reason, will be more than difficult. It'll also mean fighting against the people who were once her allies before turning on her, and within the Triad's, she really doesn't know if she can trust any of them. And things just get more desperate from there. Deeply hidden secrets are unearthed and they're going to change things for Evy for good, if she survives.

I liked the first Evy book, Three Days To Dead, but didn't love it. Too much going on, sometimes flat characters, and Evy was not the most likable character. But it was still a decent read and I was curious to see what would happen next for her. I did like this book a bit more, but it took a while. It's a little start/stop for the first half, and Evy annoyed me enough that I put the book down on more than one occasion for a short break. She's not exactly a bad character, or person, but her continued ignorance and the way she reacts to things (always fists first) annoyed me. I get that she's 22 and had a hard life and a lot has happened to her in a very short, chaotic time, but I just felt like she should have been growing and changing with the new things she faces. She does eventually start to change, around the midway point, but up til then she irritated me more than anything else.

The plot also smoothed out and moved faster from around the midway point until the end. It had some slightly predictable things, but there were some pretty big shocks in there as well. The tension from about the 2/3 mark just rose and stayed there right up to the end. Like Three Days To Dead, Evy is on a strict time frame, but also like it, I didn't often feel the pressure of that time frame coming through to me. The tension towards the end felt the same as any other big build up where you know a huge showdown is coming, time frame or not. I feel that's one of the biggest let downs on these books. The time frame is meant to be a pretty big aspect, the chapters have day/time stamp as their titles, and Evy mentions that she only has so long for certain things numerous times, but it just doesn't come across for me.

But despite the flaws, overall I still enjoyed the book. The second half I almost loved in fact. It's better than the first one, and despite the stop/start earlier on, it felt far better plotted than book one, more together and less scatty. It wraps up nicely although there are some threads left open to be explored in the next book, which I'm looking forward to. I did actually like Evy quite a lot by the end, but I think I liked some of the secondary characters, Phin in particular, more. Not about to become a favourite, but still a good read and worth the time. 7/10

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Hunger Games Fans Be Warned!!!

Carla over at The Crooked Shelf has very unfortunately found a spoilerific review of Mockingjay on Goodreads! She's doing her best to get the word around with twitter and her blog and I'm doing the same because I would be just as devastated and angry as she very rightly is. Her reaction post is here and if anyone thinks she's out of line, you're nuts. I'm staying off Goodreads until after I've read Mockingjay and if you don't want to risk spoilers, I advise you do the same!!

How someone can think it's okay to post a spoiler heavy review of a book that is Embargoed until release and the author herself has requested people not ruin the outcome for anyone else I don't know!!! So freaking furious about it and I've not even had it spoiled for me. I had the outcome of Harry Potter 5 spoiled for me when it first came out and that was bad enough. I loathe spoilers for a very good freaking reason and I wish everyone else was the same. Most book lovers are, but some ignorant people really don't care about ruining something for others and I just honestly don't understand it. /rant

Oh, I am btw going to be offline Tues/Weds til I've finished Mockingjay for this very reason. If it wasn't for knowing all the people I follow on twitter respect people who loathe spoilers even if they'll read them themselves, I'd be off there now til I was done. Ugh. Okay, /rant for real this time.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Ex Games and Major Crush by Jennifer Echols

I could review these books properly, seperatly, but seeing as I'd be posting them the same day, I'd just be repeating myself a lot. So instead, it's a (fairly badly I admit) mashed together review of both books, which have no connection to each other aside from being by the same author for the same publisher.

The Ex Games: Four years ago, in 7th grade, Nick and Hayden were the star couple for their brief relationship. It ended very publicly and Hayden swore she'd never get involved with him again. But now both of her best friends have paired of with his best friends and now the whole school assumes they're next. When Hayden then aces a girls under 18 snowboard competition, Nick declares he could beat her any day. Both competitive and stubborn people, the gauntlet is set. With half their town and school also taking sides, it becomes a massive battle of the sexes. As the rivalry and chemistry heat up, it causes some serious, entertaining and unexpected results.

Major Crush: Virginia Sauter tired of beauty-pageants, pierced her nose, joined the marching band and tired out for drum major. She got it, but she has to share the role with Drew. His family have held the position for several generations and he's more than a little superior about it. They're constantly fighting, much to the detriment of the band, but their fighting leads to flirting and the competition heats up. Until rumors start flying around that threatens not only their very new romance, but the stability of the band as well.

I've loved all the Simon Pulse romantic comedies that Jennifer has written. Sure they're a little predictable, but they're fun and smart as well. They're not very long but Jennifer does a great job of creating a hot teen romance with well rounded characters and dealing with some serious issues (The Ex Games: psychological aftermath of a huge accident/divorce. Major Crush: secrets and the toll parents can take on their kids. The Boys Next Door/Endless Summer: ADHD, the loss of a parent, serious sibling rivalry). And not only are the main characters well fleshed out, but so are the side characters. They're not place holders, they're real characters as well, and some of them I really love too. All her characters have a realness to them that I really enjoy. They're not always the smartest, or coolest, or bravest, they're themselves and very easy to relate to.

With The Ex Games, I was so often torn as to who was in the right, or even if there was one, as Nick and Hayden battled against each other. They both made some pretty big mistakes and wrong assumptions, and they didn't listen to each other on several occations. But that's so often what it's like in real life and I liked seeing how things played out for them. There were plenty of laughs along the way, but there is a serious side to them both as well, one that kept me well and truly hooked. Very, very hard to put down and easily finished in a day. Sweet, fun, angsty and generally great. Loved it.

Major Crush...well, who knew band geeks could be so much fun? I mean no offence with that comment at all, honestly, am a total book geek so I can't really say anything, but this book was hilarious. Had me doubled up almost crying with laughter a couple of times. Virginia and Drew are both sensitive people and hiding some pretty big secrets. Things are hard on both of them and it was really hard not to feel for both of them throughout the book. The way they interact with each other had me giggling plenty, but the character who quite possibly makes this book, is their insane band teacher. And I do mean insane. He has some great insight, but he's totally crazy as well and it was his lines that had me laughing the most. Loved the book from beginning to end and it was another one I couldn't put down and finished in a day. Great fun.

8/10 rating for each of them.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

New Excepts! [EDITED]

Thanks to HarperTeen, the first 70 pages of Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (due out August 31st) are now available to read free with their Browse Inside feature! The book has a gorgeous cover and sounds great, but this was the first time I actually read anything from it. Very, very good start and I'm really looking forward to more!! More than a little curious to get to know Evie and Lend more!

Another new snippet that's just gone live is from Richelle Mead's forth coming short story titled 'Sunshine' which is in the Kisses from Hell anthology. It's due out 24th August in the US, 30th September in the UK, and also features Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noel, Kristin Cast and Francesca Lia Block. The short story is set in the Vampire Academy world and tells of how Lissa's parents met. Read it the snippet here on her site. If you're up to date with the series then you'll understand why I'm fascinated to get to meet both these characters for the first time. And it's a great snippet! Really looking forward to reading the rest of it next week.

EDIT! Second link for a Harper Teen Browse Inside. This time for Firelight by Sohpie Jordan. It's out 7th September and having just read the first 7 chapters, I am desperate for it! So, so good and I am falling seriously in love with it already. Read them here.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event spotlighting future releases that we're excited about, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

There is no other choice possible for me today. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the final Hunger Games book, will finally be on the shelves next week! It's out Tuesday 24th in the US, Wednesday 25th in the UK (which is killing me, and will mean I'm MIA from Twitter/probably facebook/all blogs from Tuesday until I've finished it Weds afternoon because I will not risk having ANYTHING about it spoiled for me. Don't even want to hear opinions on it being good/bad/otherwise).

If you haven't yet read The Hunger Games and the second book Catching Fire, you are missing out on one of the very best YA books/trilogies that exist. You should absoulutly check them out asap. I didn't for a long time cause I didn't think I'd like it. I've never been soo wrong about a pre-read judgement. See my reviews for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire for my take on them. I plan on rereading them both this weekend in anticipation. Next Wednesday can't get here soon enough for me!
US cover
"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year."
UK cover

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

"The Process by which a child is both terminater and yet kept alive is called 'unwinding'. Unwinding is now a common, and accepted, practice in society.

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would unwind them. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed - but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, is wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away."

Conner is 16 and constantly getting in to trouble. He finds it really hard to rein in his temper and it makes for a lot of fights. His parents have had enough. He just discovered the Unwind papers they signed. The day before they and his younger brother go on vacation, Conner will be unwound. To avoid it, he's going to run.

Risa is 15, a ward of the State she's grown up in a group home knowing that she has to be the very best or she risks being unwound. Now she's being told she's not quite good enough and because there is a space shortage, she's being unwound. Terrified, Risa doesn't think there is a way she can possibly escape.

Lev is 13 and a tithe. He's been raised his whole life to be unwound and he's actually looking forward to it. He believes he's doing God's will. He doesn't want to escape it, he wants it to happen and the sooner the better.

Conner runs but the juvy cops follow. He attempts to lose them crossing a busy freeway. The Bus carrying Risa and other Unwinds swerves and crashes, as does the car carrying Lev. Risa runs for the surrounding forest, and for some reason Conner decides to take Lev as a hostage. Conner and Risa team up, keeping Lev with them, determined to stay gone until they turn 18 and become free again. But surviving in a world where everyone is watching is easier said than done.

I was lent this by a good friend after she and another told me I had to read it because it was amazing. I can't argue that this book is very well done. It's dark, twisted and the politics that led to Unwinding are all too easy to imagine. It moves at a good pace, building tension throughout the book, taking several twists along the way I didn't see coming. It's written in third person, switching between Conner, Risa and Lev's POV's with the occasional small part from various other characters. The way it's told adds to the unsure atmosphere, no one able to trust anyone else and showing what is really going on for each individual. It means there are times when you can see that wrong assumptions have been made and they're going to cost that person, but again, it just adds to the tension and builds it all up further.

I really, really liked all three main characters. It was easy to feel for them and their different situations. They all change and grow a lot through the book, facing so many huge obstacles and they learn a lot about themselves. The anger, frustration and betrayal the Unwinds feel comes through loud and clear and it's hard not to get worked up by that as well. They're in a world where trust is in dire supply, but they can't survive on their own.

So why, when the book was really hard to put down, I loved the characters, its well written and full of surprises, why didn't I love it? Very simple actually, it creeped me out too much. I'm not easy to creep out, I can handle blood and gore and intense situations in graphic detail fine. But just occasionally there is a book where the detail is just right between gore and the psychological aspect that it completely gets to me. That was the case here. The majority of the book was fine, dark, twisted and full of anger, but fine. There are just a couple things towards the end of the book which crossed that line for me and left too deep an impression.

I can't love the book for those moments because they creeped me out too badly. But, they don't actually manage to take away from the book (which probably makes no sense, bare with me). This book has some dark themes, 'aborting' teens instead of unborn babies, tithing humans, 'storking' (by which mothers with babies they don't want can leave them on anothers' doorstep and they have to take that child wanted or not, so long as they don't get seen doing so). It pulls no punches and explores these themes pretty deeply. It wouldn't have the same impact if those bits that creeped me out enough to take away some enjoyment weren't there.

Overall, it really is a great read and one that well and truly got under my skin, but I can't say I loved it. It's not that kind of book for me. I would recommend it, with warning that it's not for the faint hearted. On a 'technical' level this book is probably near perfect, but I'm not rating it as such so it does lose a few marks with me. Still a great book, if you like the twisted nature. 7/10

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly chance to share a snippet of the book you're currently reading, hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading.

The Rules:
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share 2 SPOILER FREE 'teaser' lines from that page
4. List the author/title etc

I'm currently reading As Lie The Dead by Kelly Meding. I'm around 150 pages in to it and while I'm not loving it, it's pretty good so far.

"The kid fell onto his back, releasing his hidden hand and a pinless hand grenade. I stared."
- page 78

Title: As Lie The Dead (Dreg City #2)
Author: Kelly Meding
Genre: Urban fantasy

Shiny New Cover!

The cover for the second book in Holly Black's Curse Workers series, Red Glove, has been revealed on her blog today! Or it may have been yesterday, time difference. I saw it this morning...anyway...
I really like it, but I'm a little disappointed they changed the style from the first one, White Cat. The PB cover for White Cat is different from the HB version and matches the style of this one, but I still prefer the HB version. But still, it's a very eye catching cover and I'm very, very excited for the book! White Cat was fantastic and the ending left me desperate for more! Can't wait to see where it goes.

EDIT: Everytime I look at this cover I'm liking it more and more...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Bit Quiet...

Just a quick update/note. I've just spent 5 hours in the ER with a friend (everything is okay now) and it's meant I've not slept all night. Which is going to take a huge toll on me because of the CFS/ME and likely mean reading will be a real struggle for the next couple days, as well as writing reviews. So chances are you're not going to hear from me much, if at all, before Thursday. I apologise in advance and hope to make up for it when I can, but health comes first. Or so I'm lead to believe...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Spoiler warning! Some minor spoilers for the first book of the series, The Iron King, below.

"'I've been in the palace of the Winter fey for a while now. How long exactly? I don't know. Time doesn't flow right in this place. If I ever get out of here, I might find a hundred years have passed and all my friends are long dead.

I try not to think about that, but sometimes I can't help but wonder.

My name is Meghan Chase.'

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey - ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart."

This is the second book in the Iron Fey series. I liked the first book, The Iron King, but didn't love it. I thought it was good, well written and interesting, but it's rare for a book focusing on faeries to really capture me. But I liked it enough to keep reading and I am so glad I did. There is a free ebook novella that comes between books 1 and 2 called Winters Passage which can be found on the series site here. I read it and it captured my attention as The Iron King did and left at a point that made me want to jump straight in to this book. While I'd recommend reading Winters Passage before this, there isn't a need to. The important parts of it are covered briefly in the first chapter of this.

The Iron Daughter picks up shortly after the end of The Iron King. Meghan is now in the Winter Court, and not exactly happy. Queen Mab doesn't believe her tales of the Iron realm or destroying the Iron King, and she holds Meghan responsible for leading her youngest son, Prince Ash, astray with the tales. Adding to her frustration and pain, Ash himself is mostly absent. And when he does decide to appear, he makes it seem as though he doesn't and never has cared for her. She begins to wonder if he ever cared for her at all. If it was just the Ice Prince playing games with the mortal girl for entertainment. She's determined to hide her emotions as best she can from everyone else though. Emotions are weakness in the Winter Court and Meghan is getting a crash course in survival.

But it soon becomes clear that Ash should be the least of her worries. There is a traitor in the Winter court, someone who is working with the Iron fey and could potentially destroy them all. Meghan has an idea of who it could be, but knows that no one will believe her. Was is coming between the Summer and Winter courts, with the Iron fey just waiting to destroy whoever is left standing. Meghan may be the only one able, and willing, to try and stop it.

It didn't take long for me to get well and truly hooked in this book and I found it really hard to put down. I really felt for Meghan as she found herself alone in the Winter court and facing so many new challenges. I loved the continued detail of the world. It's beautifully done, making it easy to imagine the world Meghan is in, the characters around her, but it never drags the story down with an overload of description.

Character wise, I found it Meghan far easier to get on with this time around and liked her a whole lot more. She does a lot of growing up in this book. As the blurb says 'she grows a backbone of iron'. She's faced with some hard truths, about life in Faery, the creatures there and in the mortal world, the way the Iron fey are continuing to spread leaving destruction in their path. And in her personal life as well she faces hard choices. Meghan learns to make the hard decisions, to do the right thing even when it seems impossible and she'd rather focus on other things. I found myself feeling oddly proud of her for a couple of those decisions and it made me think a whole lot more of her. Grim, the sarcastic but brilliant cat also makes another appearance and if possible, I love him more this time around. Still mysterious and hiding a lot, he's very entertaining and I always just want more of him.

Perhaps the thing that surprised me most character wise, is how much more I came to love both Ash and Puck in this book. I liked both men okay in The Iron King, but I didn't really love either of them. Was 'Team Ash' even so, but I wasn't too drawn in to the romance side of the book. Here, the romance does play a bigger role and the hints of a love triangle from book one become far more pronounced. But even without that, I came to really, really love both Ash and Puck. I felt we got the chance to get to know them a lot better in this book, and they (Ash in particular) have to make some hard choices and do some growing as well. And I completely adore Ash now, which I didn't think would happen.

Despite the increased romantic plot, there is still plenty more going on. The concept of the iron fey continues to intrigue me, and I still find the majority of them very creepy. Always a good thing for a bad guy. It's a fairly fast paced book. Lots of twists and turns, some are a little predictable but most not. Some serious issues to contend with and a very creepy, spooky atmosphere adds to the overall tone of the book. I had a lot of trouble putting it down and was riding the ups and downs with Meghan as if I was there with her. The ending was intense and I totally didn't see things turning out as they did! There were a couple bits which I felt could have been touched on more. A few comments here and there that were clearly ignored to be dealt with in the next book. With as much going on as there is, I understood the why, but I felt they were a little too obvious for Meghan to not pick up on. Still, it was a very satisfying read and left me wanting more. I may not have loved book one, but this I sure did!! Very excited for the next Iron Fey book, 'The Iron Queen' in Feb 2011. 9/10

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

UK Cover for The Gathering

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, out Spring 2011, will be her 4th YA, the first in her Darkness Rising trilogy and the UK cover just recently got revealed. Unlike the Darkest Powers trilogy which the US and UK had very similar covers (after a false start with book 1 in the UK) they're totally different for this new trilogy. Here's the UK one:First time I looked at it I'll be honest and say I didn't think much of it. But it's growing on me and I love that it's so different. It is, if nothing else, eye catching!

If you've not see the US one yet, this is it:
Very different and more similar to the Darkest Powers ones. Personally, I'm favouring the UK cover this time around, what about you?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Quick note! Don't forget to enter my Summer Giveaway for a £15 Book Depository gift card! Open internationally, closes August 27th. Just click the Contests button at the top for details!

"There's something about the new guy at Crossroads High...

Most sixteen-year-olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him:

One can time travel.
One can raise the dead.
One can possess another human.
One can tell the future.

Everyone thinks he's crazy, which is why he's spent his entire life shuffled between mental institutions and juvie. All of that is about ot change, however. For months Aden has been having visions of a beautiful girl - a girl who carries centuries-old-secrets. A girl who will either save him or destroy him.

Together they'll enter a dark world of intrigue and danger...but not everyone will come out alive."

Intertwined is the first in Gena's YA series. Aden is a guy who has no one. He's been shuffled between mental institutions, foster homes and juvie his whole life. Because he has 4 human souls living inside him and speaking to them means speaking out loud. Apparently to himself. So everyone thinks he's crazy, but Aden knows he's not. The four souls have names and abilities: Eve (yes he has a female in his head too) can time travel, taking them back to a earlier stage in Aden's life. Julian can raise the dead, he can't control it, he just does. Caleb can possess another human, taking them over and controlling them though there is a price to pay for it. And Elijah gets visions of the future, usually when someone is going to die.

Except lately, Elijah has been seeing a girl. A beautiful brunette who Aden gets involved with, but with her comes his death. But for the first time, Aden is meeting someone who doesn't think he's crazy, doesn't want to shove him in an institution, someone who makes him feel normal. And he can't turn away from that.

First saw this book a while ago in the back of another Harlequin Teen book, but while I thought it sounded interesting, I had so many other books to read I decided to wait for the paperback. I kind of which I hadn't. The book starts a little slow, and more than a little strange, with Aden walking on to a cemetery, by mistake, and suddenly having to destroy all the zombies Julian has raised. While busy fighting them, Aden suddenly sees a girl. A brunette who somehow negates his, or his souls', power and the zombies go back to being corpses. Unsure if she's the girl from his vision he follows her and talks to her, discovering that she's not, but convinced he needs to be around her anyway. The girl is Mary Ann and while not Aden's love interest, she gets a fair bit of page time as well.

The book is actually told in third person, both from Aden and Mary Ann's POVs, though Aden gets the lions share. When Aden is around Mary Ann, the souls disappear and he can be 'normal' for the first time in his life. Elijah has a bad feeling that hanging around Mary Ann will end in trouble, but Aden's willing to deal with it on the chance of having a friend for the first time in his life. And before you start to think 'okay, so Mary isn't the love interest, then surely she's interested in him and it's a love triangle' let me assure you it's really not the case. Aden and Mary are just friends, and both have love interests in the forms of Victoria and Riley, who have known each other for years but are also strictly friends. The romantic aspect of the book is pretty strong, but it's tied in with all the mystery and intrigue with plenty of action to keep it from just being a YA paranormal romance.

The book did start out strange, a lot happening, a lot of confusing things linked together and a lot of things popping up from nowhere really making Aden's world a whole lot bigger. And at first I wasn't too keen on it kind of laughing going okay, what's going to get thrown in the mix next. But I stuck with it and ended up well and truly hooked. It picks up maybe a third of the way in and I loved it from then on. It's got some odd twists and some good surprises, although some things can bee seen coming a ways off, but most of it I really enjoyed. There are a couple over sappy/cheesy moments (both guys carrying the girls bags as they walk home from school for instance), but it's easy to get past them.

Aden is a lonely guy, despite having 4 souls in his head. He may love them a certain extent, and certainly get driven a little crazy by them too, but he longs to be normal, to have friends. People he can sit and chat with, hug, run with, kiss. He's never had that and he wants it badly, and now he's got the chance he'll put everything on the line for it, even his life. And you know what? I don't blame him. I liked Aden a lot, although it took a little while, and the more I got to know him the more I saw how he dealt with things, the more I understood his mindset and why he was willing to risk the things he does. And I really liked Mary Ann as well, probably more than Aden at times. In some ways she's a very mature teen, but in others she's got a lot of growing up to do. I loved seeing how she adjusted, learning about the paranormal world. She's strong, standing up for those she cares about even though they may be in a better position to take care of themselves. She doesn't run screaming (well, not much anyway) and she is dealt some huge personal blows along the way, yet still she fights. A lot to like about her.

It built up a good pace and I really enjoyed the ending. There's plenty still left hanging for the next book and I'm really looking forward to it! It did take a little time to hook me and grow on me, but in the end I was loving the characters, rooting for them and very curious to find out where everything was leading. I really want to know what the power draw Aden has is, and where it comes from. There is a lot left unanswered and I'm hoping we get some of the answers in the next book, Unraveled (out August 31st)! 8/10

Kara Gillian 1&2 by Diana Rowland

Maybe, slightly, behind on reviews again...apologies for that! Here's a 2-for-1 for you, reviews for Mark of the Demon and Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland, the first and second in her Kara Gillian series.

Mark of the Demon 

"Cop and conjurer of demons, she's a woman in danger of losing control - to a power that could kill.
Why me? Why now? That's what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who's already claimed the lives - and souls - of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he's back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.
Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac's small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head..."
Mark of the Demon is the first in the Kara Gillian series from Diana Rowland. Kara is a small town detective who has just been promoted. She's also a summoner, able to pull demons through from their plane of existence with arcane energy. 3 years ago as a beat cop, she caught sight of traces of the arcane on a victim of the Symbol Man. Ever since she's been curious about it, but the murders stopped shortly after. Now they're starting again and now a detective, Kara can get close to the bodies and see if the arcane is connected to this victim, and possibly all the past ones as well. But it's her first homicide case and she's got a lot of heat on her, from her superiors and from those who don't think she's qualified for the job. FBI agent Ryan Kristoff doesn't make it any easier, constantly on her heels trying to figure out what she knows and how she's figured out so much having never been on the original cases.

But the murders aren't all Kara has to worry about. The same night of the first of the new killings, she some how messed up a summoning. Instead of pulling through a lower level demon to give her advice, she managed to pull through a Demon Lord. Who could kill her with ease. Instead he seduces her, and continues to plague her dreams and thoughts when she needs to focus on the case.

I loved this book. I got hooked very early on and it didn't let go. It's a great mix of police procedural and paranormal. Kara is smart, down to earth, tough, vulnerable, lonely and very likable. She's not described as beautiful, she talks about having to really work to keep herself in shape - and that she doesn't do it enough. She's very real and I love how she tries at once to protect herself, and yet shows her vulnerability as well. Kara's history, a messed up teen who did her share of drugs and got clean, was something I liked as well. She shows she's far from perfect, but she works hard for what she wants now. She knows how to work people, and that things don't always work out as they should.

I couldn't figure out who the bad guy was until the reveal, which I very much enjoyed. It took so many twists, I kept thinking, like Kara (though not always agreeing with her), that I had it figured out when *bang* something else happened and it was all upside down again. It's tightly plotted, tense, very sexy at times, dark, twisted and brilliant. My stomach churned at some of the descriptions of the bodies, not something I normally flinch too much at. The author doesn't pull any punches! I liked the world building, with the small town setting, and how the demon world works. Different levels of demons, different prices to pay for summoning. How honer is everything to them and while they're self serving, they're not really evil.

There is a romantic sub plot running through the book, though you'd be forgiven for thinking it bigger than it actually is with the way things heat up early on, and very fast. But it does remain in the back ground, adding to the book without dominating anything. I loved the balance of that sub plot, the police side, and the way the paranormal blended in as well. They worked very well together to create a story I really struggled to put down. FBI man Kristoff and demon Lord Rhyzkahl were both great secondary characters. Both mysterious and clearly hiding ulterior motives, though obviously very different ones, it was fun and tense watching Kara deal with them both. How she handled them, how they played off her and there was a nice contrast between the two, the human and the very not.

Overall, a really great read! Hard to put down, great characters, particularly Kara who is one of the most down to earth realistic protagonists I think I've read. Tight plot, plenty of surprises, a setting that just added to the overall atmosphere and an intense conclusion all made for a very enjoyable read. Loved it, would highly recommend it and having already read the second book (loved it even more than this), I'm very much looking forward to the third! 9/10

Some minor spoilers for Mark of the Demon ahead in the review for book 2, you have been warned :)

Blood of the Demon

"Between heaven and hell, man and demon, she's about to face the one thing she may not be able to survive.

Welcome to the world of Kara Gillian, a cop with a gift. Not only does she have the power of 'othersight' to see what most people can't even imagine, but she's become the exclusive summoner of a demon lord. Or maybe it's the other way around. The fact is, with two troublesome cases on her docket and a handsome FBI agent under her skin, Kara need the help of sexy, insatiable Lord Rhyzkahl more than he needs her. Because these two victims, linked by suspicious coincidence, haven't just been murdered. Something has eaten their souls.

It's a case with roots in the arcane, but whose evil has flowered among the rich, powerful, and corrupt in Beaulac, Louisiana. And as the killings continue, Kara soon realises how much there's still to learn about demons, men, and things that kill in the night - and how little time she has to learn it."

This second Kara Gillian book picks up about a month after the end of Mark of the Demon. Kara is back at work and back summoning, although she's having a few anxiety issues with the second. But work draws her focus, especially when a cop is found dead, apparent suicide. With his soul torn out of him. Kara is convinced that someone, or something, with access to the arcane is involved, but getting to the bottom of the case is going to be easier said than done. A second murder victim, with ties to the cop, is found soon after. Kara's gut says they're linked in more ways than one, but she's not sure she can prove it.

FBI agent Ryan Kristoff is hanging around again as well, and Kara's not too sure why. For some reason demon's seem to have an odd interest in him, but they won't say why and Ryan denies knowing why. Kara'd like to get to the bottom of it, but she's quickly learning there is a lot more to demons and the other uses of arcane energy out there than she first realised. If that wasn't enough, demon Lord Rhyzkahl wants Kara to agree to be his summoner. And she can't seem to stop dreaming about him either.

This second Kara Gillian book was even better than the first. Having got to know the characters some in the first book we now get to know them better. But I'm still wondering just what Ryan is, and what he knows because I'm convinced there is far more too him than we're currently seeing. But trying to figure it out is all part of the fun, even if it gets a little frustrating at times. Kara's struggling in this book, not just with her cases and some of the cops she works with, but with the knowledge she's discovering. And she's struggling on a personal level, with her aunt still unconscious, her essence missing, and no idea how to help her. I really felt for Kara as she attempted to figure out how to help her aunt, and what she faced dealing with some of the issues her aunt being in that state meant.

Like the first book, I couldn't figure the cases out. So many twists and turns and actually had almost too much trouble keeping names straight through it. But I didn't care. It was just too good for me to mind that tiny thing. I knew who they were talking about most the time, and really enjoyed trying to keep up with the way Kara's mind works, fitting things together and figuring out what might have happened. Once again I didn't see the end coming at all, and there were some smaller surprises as well which I really liked. Kara is naturally suspicious and it gets her in trouble more than once, but I couldn't blame her for reacting the way she does. Kara is pretty wound up through this whole book for one reason or another and it gets to her. She's human and she shows it, and I love it. I like seeing her loose her temper when things just go too far, and she may know she should keep her mouth shut but she doesn't. And I love seeing her break down a little dealing with some of the pain she is covered in. She's such a realistic character and I love reading about her, getting to know her better.

I think this book moves a little faster than the first one, with more different threads to tangle together than Mark of the Demon as well. But it works. It's still tightly plotted with plenty of action and paranormal alongside the more standard police work and autopsies. It all comes together in an intense ending that I loved and left me wanting more. It's not a cliff hanger at all, it wraps up the main plots just fine while leaving on going threads open for the next books. But it still left me hungry for more and if book 3 had been out already, I'd have torn straight in to it. As it is, I've got to wait til Jan 4th 2011 for it and it feels like a really long wait. Enjoyed it even more than the first book, which I really did love, and I'm very excited for more in this series. 9/10

Sunday, 8 August 2010

More Cover Love

Shannon Delany, author of 13 To Life (my review here) revealed the cover for the second book in the series, Secrets and Shadows earlier.
Another beutiful cover, with the themes from the first one continued and I kinda love it!

If you've not read 13 To Life yet, you should. It's a fantastic YA werewolf book and I couldn't put it down. Very excited for Secrets and Shadows (out Feb 15th 2011).

Contest To Check Out! [4]

L. J. Boldyrev is giving away a signed ARC of Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles on her blog here! Return to Paradise is the sequal to Leaving Paradise (check my review here) which I completely adored. I am very, very excited for the sequal (due out next month) and can't wait to read it!

"Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them"

Saturday, 7 August 2010

New Cover Love!!

Rachel Vincent did something a little different with the reveal for her new US Soul Screamers cover. She did a countdown widget for it and it went live with the cover at midnight last night (depending on where in the world you are, was about 6 or 7am here I think). Anyway, Was very excited to get up and see it this morning and WOW! It is, without a doubt, my favourite Soul Screamers cover to date. The color is beautiful, the pose is beautiful, the layout (tilte/author name) works perfectly, and it's generally just stunning, don't ya agree?
If you're not familiar with Rachel's YA series, it's about a teenaged banshee, or bean sidhe to be more correct, Kaylee, and it's very, very good! There is a free e-book prequal available to download here on Rachel's site. The books currently out are My Soul To Take, My Soul To Save and My Soul To Keep and for me they just get better. MSTSteal is due out Jan 1st 2011 in the US (I believe Dec 1st 2010 in Aus, so if you're there, you're VERY lucky!) and I really, really can't wait for it. There is also a short story set in the Soul Scremers universe, though not with the main character, in the Kiss Me Deadly anthology which I reviewed recently here. It's a fantastic short and I can't wait to see the main character from that, Sabine, meet Kaylee in MSTSteal. Should be very exciting!! Shaping up to be the best book of the series so far and MSTKeep is hard to top.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

"An immortal way has been brewing in the darkness...and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears - this fearless, beautiful...human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction."

This is the second book in Jeaniene's Night Huntress World series, the spin off to her Night Huntress series. Eternal Kiss of Darkness follows Mencheres who has played a significant role in the NH series, but always seemed very aloof, always appeared to have ulterior motives and I never really liked him. But having at least liked all of Jeaniene's other books, and having loved her first NHW book, First Drop of Crimson featuring Spade and Denise, when I didn't think I would, I gave it a chance. Turns out, like FDoC, I loved it. Mencheres is far easier to like and surprisingly easy to get to know when you're getting the story from his point of view. He may not show or share much with the people around him, but he is always thinking, always trying to take care of his line and those he cares about as best he can.

Kira was just as easy to like. She's tough and smart, taking things in her stride. She could easily be overwhelmed by the things she discovers and the things that happen to her in the vampire world, but instead she accepts and deals. Stubborn and unwilling to keep her mouth shut even in front of some of the most powerful vampires there are, she's determined to make the best of her situation and maybe save a life as well if she can.

The Night Huntress World books are told in alternating third person POV, so with this one it's from Mencheres and Kira's POV's. It makes it easy to get to know, and like, both characters easier as well as giving a better all around view being able to see things from different perspectives. A vampire who is several thousands of years old sees things a little differently to a 30 year old woman. The contrast makes things interesting as well.

I have to say that the book was a little predictable. Did figure things out pretty easily and nothing really came as a surprise. But it still kept me interested and I finished it in a couple of days. It's got it's dark and serious side, but there are some fun edges to it as well, not to mention Jeaniene's typically hot smex scenes! It's fast paced and the characters were strong enough to keep me very interested past the plot, enough that I still loved the book. The ending was good though I wish there had been a little more too it. It was another of those cases where there was a lot of build up, and then it was just kind of over which was a little disappointing. Still a good read and although Jeaniene's books don't hit top level favourite for me, they're still very, very good and I'd recommend them. 7/10

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Alpha by Rachel Vincent

Review contains no spoilers for Alpha, but does contain them for earlier books! Recommend you skip this if you've yet to pick up the series, and that you should pick up book 1, Stray, right now ;)

The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc, and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder, and treason. Yeah, we’ve been busy. But now it’s time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother’s death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.
It’s not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I’m heading for a final showdown that can—that will—change everything forever."

Alpha is the sixth and final book in the Shifters series and I was lucky enough to receive an early copy thanks to NetGalley. I was ridiculously happy to find the link waiting for me in my inbox a week ago and started it straight away. Then stayed up til gone 3am to finish it. I could not stop reading it, I had to know what happened to Faythe and the rest of her Pride. It's an intense, emotional rollorcoaster and heart breaking though it was, I wouldn't have changed a thing nor could I have asked for more.

I was hooked on this series from the first page of book 1, Stray, and since then my love for the series has only grown. It is a firm favourite with me and one I would highly recommend. Book 4, Prey completely blew me away with it's intensity and heartbreak. It changed everything for Faythe and her Pride, and the whole werecat world in general. Shift then continued the changes as Faythe attempted to find her way out of an impossible situation, and carry on protecting her fellow tabbies Kaci and Manx as well.

Alpha picks up just a short while after the end of Shift. Faythe and the rest of the South Central Pride are about to meet Ethan's pregnant girlfriend for the first time. They learnt of her pregnancy immediately after Ethan's death in Prey, but until now they've not met her. They want to be a part of the baby's life, but Angela can't know of their true nature. And hiding it when war is about to break out is not going to be easy.

It's not long before things really heat up as Greg, Faythe, Marc, Jace and members of the other Prides, come together in the mountains again for another council meeting. This one to decide if Greg can remain as head of the Territorial Council, or if Calvin Malone - a cat desperate for power and control, determined to have his sons with all available tabbies, willing or unwilling - will take the head instead. And the battle for Faythe's heart reaches breaking point. She's got to decide for sure who she loves the most, who her other half is. Either Marc, the stray her family took in, who she has loved for years. Or Jace, her late brothers best friend who's suddenly proving himself to be alpha material as well. Doesn't matter who she chooses, someone is going to get hurt and she doesn't want more pain than they're all already facing, but she must choose. War is breaking out and it's not the time for divided loyalties within the Pride. Faythe is going to need everything she's got and then some to win this fight.

The Shifters series is one of my favourites and this book was everything I expected. It's a heart wrenching, awesome, bittersweet ending. I cried through a lot of the book I have to say. Rachel does a fantastic job of capturing emotions, pain and grief in particular and making it very real. It's hard not to sympathise with Faythe as she makes the tough decisions she has to make. Not always a case of right or wrong, and certainly never easy, but what has to be done for the continued existence of her Pride, and their allies as well.

Faythe does choose between Marc and Jace, and as Rachel promised it is her choice. Neither man dies to leave her only one option, nor does an unplanned pregnancy occur. It's Faythe's choice and it's almost as heartbreaking watching her trying to figure out her personal life as the rest of the book. There is a war going on and losses are inevitable in any war. So painful and harsh, but it's the truth and Rachel doesn't pull any punches. One of the reasons this series works so well for me is because I care just as much about the secondary characters as the protagonist. I love the glimpses in to Greg, Karen, Jace, Marc, Kaci and all the others, that we get. It's as hard seeing their reactions, their grief as it is getting Faythe's. Sometimes more so.

This book does a good job wrapping things up. It deals with the things left hanging from the previous two books and comes to what felt like a natural end point. There isn't any epilogue, a glimpse of Faythe's life a month or a year after the final chapter and I'm actually pretty glad of it. Faythe has come so, so far from the loud mouth brat she was in Stray. She's grown up, learnt what being a leader means, learnt when to fight and when to keep her mouth shut, learnt how to make the hard decisions. Where Faythe's story ends for us, there is still much more she faces and skipping those things to show us just the outcome would have left me feeling a little cheated I think. Instead, we get the ending the series deserved. It's heartbreaking, bittersweet, but ultimately fantastic and the best book of the series. It's very hard saying goodbye to characters I love, but there is so much room to imagine the future for them and that I love. Best book of the series, most heartbreaking, and yet with a satisfying conclusion that does the series justice and one I'd think most fans will love. 10/10

Contest! £15 @ Book Depository

 CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!!! Winner will be announced shortly...

Running a new contest for the Summer! One winner and prize is £15 GC for Book Depository to spend on which ever book (or books) you want. Open Internationally as long as BD ships to you. Check this list here to see if you're eligible. If your country isn't on the list, then I'm sorry but you can't enter this one. Contest is open until Friday 27th August midnight British Summer time. Will announce the winner on the 28th and contact them. Winner will have 3 days to contact me or a new winner will be picked.

What do you have to do to enter? Only thing you must do is fill out your name/email address in the form and total your entries (if you don't do any of the extras, then you'll just need to enter 1 for it). There are options for extra entries as follows:

Blog follower (old or new) + 3 entries
Twitter follower (@cem_214) +1 entry
Tweet about the contest + 2 entries
Mention the contest somewhere on your blog +3 entries

And the automatic one for your name/email means a possible total of 10 entries.

One form per person, and while tweeting the contest more than once would be welcome, only once will count! Don't need to comment to enter, but if you want to leave a comment to know if you've entered or not, thats fine.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Kiss Me Deadly edited by Trisha Telep

Kiss Me Deadly is a new young adult paranormal romance anthology containing 13 new stories. It is, sort of, the follow up to 'The Eternal Kiss' YA vampire romance anthology that was out last summer. TEK was awesome and completely worth the money, which not all anthos are, and this one had another great line up of authors so I was really looking forward to it.

It is a decent anthology. Lots of different tales, different styles and some interesting romance options. Probably not the best anthology I've read, or rather not the one I've most enjoyed. I actually liked the majority of the stories, but it was more a case of them being great and loving them, or not thinking much of them at all, no real in-between stories. I still think its well worth owning, for the stories from Rachel Vincent, Karen Mahoney and Maggie Stiefvater alone!

The stories in order:
1. The Assassin's Apprentice by Michelle Zink - 8/10 - descendants of angels hunting demons on earth. Nice short, wish it had been longer, liked the characters and the ideas a lot.
2. Errant by Diana Peterfreund - 4/10 - strange story featuring odd unicorns. Not much paranormal love to it, mostly just strange. Just didn't really work for me.
3. The Spirit Jar by Karen Mahoney - 9/10 - Moth, the vampire girl from Karen's short 'Falling To Ash' in TEK, is back and this time in London after a rare book for her maker, and she's not the only one after it. Great short story, I completely love Moth and really hope there is a full book from her POV in the future!
4. Lost by Justine Musk - 9/10 - fantastic short about a girl good at finding lost things, who meets a guy who's not quite human in an abandoned house.
5. The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan - 5/10 - Peter Pan working for Her Majesty's secret service. Bit strange, but fun as well. Liked it.
6. The Dungeons of Langeais by Becca Fitzpatrick - 5/10 - short set in her Hush, Hush world. An angel, the man tied to him, and the two women who they try to protect. Okay, but nothing great.
7. Behind The Red Door by Caitlin Kittredge - 5/10 - girl meets ghost who is not as great as first appears. Not bad, but felt quite detached. Wasn't too bothered which way things would go.
8. Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan - 8/10 - focuses on Sister Tabitha from The Forest of Hands and Teeth as a teenager, showing where she came from. Great story explaining how she came to be the way she is. Really liked it.
9. Familiar by Michelle Rowen - 8/10 - a reluctant witch has to pick out a familiar. She chooses a little runt of a kitten, who turns out to be a shifter and not a kitten at all. Fun and sweet. Loved it.
10. Fearless by Rachel Vincent - 9/10 - set in Rachel's Soul Screamers world, this story introduces us to Sabine Campbell, in a short set before the SS series begins. Sabine is a mara, someone who feeds off of nightmares to survive, but finds herself somewhere that's oddly empty of them. Really great short and I love Sabine. Looking forward to seeing more of her in SS #4 My Soul To Steal (out Jan 1st 2011), even if she and Kaylee are going to be enemies.
11. Vermillion by Daniel Marks - 4/10 - ghosts causing chaos, or not causing it. Basic idea was fine, but I didn't like the main character. The girl was just too volatile, going from calm happy to enraged too quickly and she wasn't too smart either, though she was meant to be. Could have been better.
12. The Hounds of Ulster by Maggie Stiefvater - 9/10 - beautiful, sad tale of two best friends and the fey girl who comes between them. Wish it had been longer! Loved the characters and the story and would have loved more about all of it.
13. Many Happy Returns by Daniel Waters - 8/10 - very sad tale of a father hoping, wishing, his daughter will rise again as a zombie after she and her boyfriend, and other friends, are killed in a car accident. Not often a zombie fan, but like the ideas and it's enough for me to look in to his Generation Dead series which is the same world as this short.

Overall, 7/10 but like I said, few of the stories would be worth owning the whole antho for on their own!