Thursday, 30 September 2010

Book Shelves

Excuse the random post but I've been wondering about something. How do you arrange your books on your shelves/bookcases/wherever?

I've never been able to organize alphabetically because I have to keep all my faves together. And size matters as well! Until a couple of weeks ago I mixed YA/adult books on those top faves shelves. Then I ran out of space and split them because I could fit things better that way. Now I'm thinking about yet another change and having one of those top faves shelves become my signed books shelf (right now signed books are just with their correct series on the faves shelves, no special place).

In my room I've got two tall bookcases (only half of one is dedicated to books, the other half holds my TV and dvds), one short bookcase and two wall units, which have two shelves each. Those wall units are my faves shelves (really, it's a wonder the walls haven't fallen down with the weight on them) and as it stands right now this is what they look like:
Adults faves - (my walls are not that bright! Silly flash)

YA faves - (...also deeper red than they look here. *sigh*)

Very neat and I was very happy with the sort out I last did. But. It can't last because as you can see, there is not a lot of space to play with. It will take very little time for them to be full. So if I'm going to have to do yet another sort out, should I be switching how I organize by books?

How do you all organize books? What matters for you? Size? Alphabetically? Favourites? Genre? Comment away!

Cover Love!

Chances are you've seen this one already, I've been meaning to post it for a while. It's the US cover for Shadowspell by Jenna Black, the second book in her YA series Faeriewalker, follow up to Gimmerglass [review]. I adored Glimmerglass, it's got to be my favourite fae book to date, so I can't wait for the second one in Feb 2011 [edit: double checked that date, is actually out Jan 4th! Yay!!]. And I am soo in love with the cover for it as well!!

Simply stunning right? Thoughts, opinions?

BBB Event with Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent, author of the awesome Shifters series, and YA series Soul Screamers, is over at Bitten By Books today celebrating the release of the final (sob!) Shifers book, Alpha. (Which released yesterday by the way, I meant to repost my review which is here, but, erm, forgot. I blame WEG). She's answering questions left in the the comments as well as offering an awesome prize of an entire set of signed Shifters books and (as if that wasn't good enough!) a signed set of Soul Screamers book 1-4, which includes an ARC of My Soul To Steal which isn't out til Jan 1st!! A seriously awesome prize if there ever was one. So head on over there and check it out!!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is:

Title: Secrets and Shadows [13 To Life #2]
Author: Shannon Delany
Release date: Feb 15th 2011

There isn't actually an official blurb for this one yet (at least, not that I can easily find and my brain is too fried for me to look properly, aplogies!), but it's the second book in the 13 To Life series, and I adored book one, so I'm very excited for this second one. If you've not yet read 13 To Life, you really, really should, here's the blurb for it:

"When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early."

My review of 13 To Life can be found here.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Monday, 27 September 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey. It's a chance to share what you've read over the past week and plan on reading over the coming one.

So last week I mentioned that I probably would have time for much reading cause of other things but that there were two books top of my list to try and fit in: Gone by Lisa McMann and Linger by Maggie Striefvater. Well...things kinda went awry with my being ill and having other books I hadn't planned on arriving, arriving, so I didn't manage either of them. Haven't even started either of them yet! I did however, manage to read some other things:

Unraveled by Gena Showalter [review coming later or tomorrow]
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler [review]
Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews [review]
Angel by L. A. Weatherly [review]

And I'm currently reading The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.

So, this week I'm mostly being dull and repeating last weeks post, because I need to read Linger this week, it is not a choice. I'm seeing Maggie (along with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of the awesome Raised By Wolves) on Sunday evening when they're in the UK giving a talk on werewolves in a neighbouring town. I can't wait for it, but I feel that despite my somewhat less then stellar opinion of Shiver (which wasn't bad, but wasn't to my tastes) that I should read book 2, Linger, before I go. So that I intend to read soon as I'm done with The Chosen One.

Past that, I'd love to read Gone this week having not read it last, and also the ARC of Matched by Ally Condie that I won last weekend. However, this week and next the World Equestrian Games (WEG) is taking place in Kentucky, and that means several horse events that are many hours long are being shown online or occationally on TV and I'll be watching [strange random aside, but one of my life goals it to make it to a WEG to watch some of it live ;)]. So the chances of me getting much reading done in the next two weeks is minimal. So my single goal for this week is to read Linger.

What about you?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Angel by L. A. Weatherly

ARC copy received for review thanks to Lynsey at UK Book Tours!

"Willow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where she gets this power from...

But Alex does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her. The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous - and irresistible. In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy."

I have to start by saying that fantasy books about angels are growing on me rapidly right now, and the concept for this new YA trilogy, summed up with the tag line: 'The only good angel is a dead angel,' had me wanting this book in an instant.

In the world L. A. has created here angels invaded our world because theirs is dying. But they survive by taking energy from humans leaving them with 'angel burn' something that drains them of life, causes mental problems and can cause cancer. But anyone who's touched by an angel only remembers it as a wonderful experience and they'll do anything for another touch of the angels.

There are those who hunt the angels, Angel Killers, or AK's for short. Alex is one such guy. He's 17 and he's been hunting them since he was a kid. He doesn't know anything else. They're his enemy and he'll do whatever it takes to destroy them all. He's given orders via text, just an address of where the angel lives. When he gets a new order through he finds himself at the residence of a 16 year old girl, Willow. Her energy doesn't read as a full angel though, it reads as a mix of human and angel. Something that should be impossible. Instead of killing her as he should he begins to follow her. He needs to know what she is and he's convinced something isn't right. Before long the angels make an attempt at killing Willow themselves, and Alex flees with her. On the run they have to battle growing feelings for each other unsure if there is anywhere safe left for them to run to before the angels find them and take them out.

This book had me hooked from the start. It's told primarily from Alex and Willow's perspectives (third person for Alex, first for Willow) with a few short sections also in third person from a couple other perspectives. Alex's dark, steel edged narrative starts the book off fantastically and I found myself liking him almost instantly. Then it switched to Willow's point of view. A much softer, more innocent voice and yet, like Alex, there was something about her that seemed older than she really was already. I found Willow just as easy to like, and I love that she's not your typical girl, being in to cars, psychic and with a very different dress sense to most.

They're both smart characters but with a sometimes narrow view of the world. That's not a criticism, it's actually something I find far more real and fitting. Especially coming from two teenagers. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists as more was revealed about them as the book unfolded and they changed and grew. I loved how the relationship between them grew. They noticed each other pretty instantly, but nothing happened for a long while and they didn't always get along. I love that it wasn't instant head-over-heels love that changed everything for them. I felt they were both well rounded characters with a lot of 'life' to them, together and apart.

I loved the twists of the story. I was never too sure what was going to happen and I had to keep reading to find out what happened. I could barely put the book down. There are certain things you can figure out before they happen, but others caught me completely by surprise, but even when I guessed the outcome, it didn't ruin it for me. It all just worked. I felt the balance between the romance and the rest of the plot worked as well. While yes, there were times where Alex and Willow were more focused on each other, the danger they faced was never far from their thoughts and it's what it always came back to. The romance is a big part of the story but it's far from everything.

Angel is well written, smart, funny at times, dark and very different. I loved it and it left me wanting book 2, Angel Fire (out June 2011), like, yesterday! I Fantastic work and a book I'd highly recommend. I've got a feeling Angel Fire and Angel Fever (out Oct 2011) could be even better than this. As it stands it's still got to be my favourite angel centered book to date. I'm doubly excited about the fact that I loved this book because the end of October the author is actually doing a signing in my city! Nothing good ever happens here lol. So I'm very excited to meet L. A. and get a signed copy, as well as maybe having the chance to chat with her a little about the series.

Rating: 9/10

Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

"The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale - and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny...
Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swath of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan's long-time rivals are suspect number one.
But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge - and Cerise's life. William, a changeling soldier who'd left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation's spymaster.
When William's and Cerise's missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly - but they'll have to work together if they want to succeed...and survive."

Bayou Moon is the second book in The Edge series by husband and wife writing team, Ilona and Andrew Gordon under the pseudonym Ilona Andrews. Ilona and Gordon's Kate Daniels series is one of my favourite series full stop, so of course when they started The Edge series, it was a must read for me. The first book, On The Edge, was very good and I loved it, but it is very different to the Kate series. While reading On The Edge I had a feeling, much as I liked it, that (rather like the Kate series actually) that I'd enjoy book 2 even more. I wasn't wrong, I adored this one!!

Bayou Moon follows William, the wolf changeling from On The Edge, in his continued hunt for his old enemy Spider. He was quite possibly my favourite character from OTE, despite not being the main role or the hero of the story. He's so deeply damaged, no family, a trained killer, someone who wants nothing more than a family of his own. There is something heartbreaking about reading the first chapter of this book, seeing him playing with the action figures he's bought himself to try and have some of the childhood he was denied.

William is hunting Spider in the Edge when his path crosses that of Cerise Mar. The Mar's are land rich but cash poor and her parents, head of the family, have just disappeared. It's thought that their long term rivals are responsible, but she soon learns that Spider has a hand in it as well. Cerise has to lead her family against their rivals knowing not everyone will survive. She realises William will be a valuable asset going up against Spider, but with sparks flying between them and secrets that could ruing everything, nothing is simple.

I didn't have any problems getting in to this book, I was hooked from the start. It's written in third person, mostly from William and Cerise's POV's but the occasional snippet from others as well gives a fuller view of what's going on. I already loved William and my love for him just grew through the book. Cerise is a new character to the series and it didn't take me long at all to like her as well. She's pretty awesome actually. She's completely dedicated to her family, smart, brave and a hell of a fighter. Cerise is no damsel in distress and I love her for it. I love her snark and how she insists on calling William 'Lord Bill' despite his constant 'it's William'. So funny watching them rile each other up. The chemistry between them was played pretty perfectly. Misunderstandings crop up as well as some big secrets and while my heart ached for them at times, they were just as likely to crack me up with their attempts at flirtation.

But the romance is only half the plot. The other half is taken up with Cerise's hunt to get her parents back, and William's determination to find and kill Spider. There is plenty of action and tension as they try to figure out exactly what's going on, what Spider is after and such. I was hanging on the story all the way through wanting, needing, to know what happened and if either or both of them would succeed in their aims, and of course if they'd manage to make things work between them.

Like all of Ilona and Gordon's books it's a vividly drawn story with such well rounded characters that I find easy to care about. One thing that shines very brightly through their books is the semblance of family. Children/teens and parental type roles don't play a big role in urban fantasy/paranormal romance etc. books, but it's an aspect I always feel adds something extra, something more real to a book. It's a complex issue to add though and it doesn't always work, but so far Ilona and Gordon have gotten it spot on every time and Bayou Moon is no exception. I love the family relationships in it and how they change and grow with the issues faced.

Another big hit from a favourite author. Bayou Moon is spectacular, intense, sweet and funny as well. The mix of magic and real world felt more settled and solid than it did in On The Edge, maybe just because I already understood the world, but whatever the reason, it did feel more solid than book one. It was fantastic from beginning to end and let some interesting things open for future books. I can't wait! 

Rating: 10/10

In My Mailbox [4]

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a chance to share what books you've bought or received through the week.

For review, thanks to the lovely Lynsey at UK Book Tours:
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
ARC copy of Angel by L. A. Weatherly

She also included a bunch of awesome swag!

ARC of Matched by Allie Condie, from Wondrous Reads, along with another bunch of awesome swag!

Gone by Lisa McMann
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler [review]
Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Bayou Moon, Twenty Boy Summer and Angel are all fantastic reads and I'm very excited to get in to the others soon! Great week for me book wise (and swag wise!) totally making up for my having a nasty cold that's left me feeling like complete crap all week long.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

By now I'm sure all you book people have heard of SpeakLoudly one way or another, and how one man would like to ban 3 books, Twenty Boy Summer included, for reasons I personally can't begin to understand. But it was actually this issue that made me seek out this book to read now rather than later, because not only did it sound good, but I wanted to see if he mangled the plot of it as badly as he did that of Laurie Halse Anderson's awesome, Speak. Turns out, he really did. So here's my review of a book I wouldn't have read for months, if not for him trying to ban it and bringing it to my attention. So thank you Mr. Scroggins, for making me read an awesome book so much sooner.

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise me you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's out secret, right?"
According to Anna's best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie - she's already has her romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately hoe to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

Anna and her next door neighbours, Frankie and her older brother Matt, have grown up together, always best friends, telling each other everything. Almost. Anna never told Frankie she had been in love with Matt since she was 10. Or that on her 15th birthday she finally got her wish and Matt kissed her. They spent a month together, hiding their relationship from Frankie. Then tragedy struck and Matt was gone. Anna has promised him she'd never tell their secret, now she has to take it to the grave, playing the supportive best friend to Frankie never telling her that she misses Matt just as much.

A year after his death the girls are off on vacation with Frankie's parents, and Frankie is determined they'll find a summer romance. If they can meet a boy a day, then it should be easy. Twenty days, twenty boys. Two girls grieving for the loss of the other part of their friendship. A friendship where once no secrets lived, now divided by something they can still barely believe happened.

I loved this book. It took just a couple of pages to have me hooked and if not for being ill and not able to read as much as normal, I'd have finished it easily in a day. Anna's narrative had me from the start, her easy voice drawing me in. The pain of Matt's death came across so sharply that despite being just pages in to it and knowing it would happen, I was tearing up. And tearing up many more times throughout the book as Anna tried to deal with the loss, the secret and moving on. Even though the book is written in first person from Anna's perspective, the pain coming across from her watching Frankie, and Frankie's parents, also deal with Matt's loss had me in tears as well. It was just so raw, it wasn't hard to imagine it being real.

It's a beautifully written story of two girls dealing with their grief and the different ways it can affect people. It broke me apart so many times while I was reading it, but it pulled me back together by the end as they learnt to deal and to move on. There was some summer romance involved which was soft, sweet and awkward in the right places. But it wasn't really the focus at any point, it was just another aspect of Anna dealing with her grief for Matt, her first love and her best-friend-thats-a-boy. It was pretty perfectly done actually, all of the book. The grief, the lies, the anger and the truth. It showcased the various reactions and issues that come up when dealing with the loss of a loved one, and the journey of learning to deal with it.

It was so hard to put the book down, even though I was pretty ill while reading it. It was just gripping in its beautiful, raw realness. It was a painful journey as both girls grew and changed on their journey and it came to what felt like a very natural, believable, satisfying conclusion. I would highly recommend it!!

Rating: 9/10

Early Contest Notice - extra entries!

So I kind of quietly mentioned in my post a few days ago that I'll be holding a contest when I reach 100 followers. I love that I seem to be gaining new followers pretty regularly now, and at 69 as I write this, it feels like 100 is close. Exciting! I really appriciate each of you stopping by, even if it's not daily :)

Why the early contest notice? Well, it's pretty simple, I'm hoping maybe those of you following me will help spread the word a little. Sooner I hit 100, sooner the contest gets held, sooner someone can win. And what can you win? Well, I'm not firm on my prize details yet, but I will at least be offering a $15 GC, either for Book Depository, or for your choice of bookseller as long as they let me buy it with £ as I'm in the UK.

Why help spread the word? Because anyone who is follower 100 or sooner, will be considered an 'old' follower and will get an extra +4 entries.

Leave a link in the comments of this post for anywhere you've spread the word (will only count once per place you share, so only one tweet will count but please share as much as you'd like ;)) and you'll get +2 entries for each different place.

The awesome Jess over at A Great Read is also planning a 100+ Followers contest as she's close to it as well. So we're teaming up a little, in that if you follow her as well before I reach 100 then you'll get another +2 entries for following her (leave a comment on this post telling me you're following her as well for it to count!). We've got similar tastes in books and I love seeing her takes on the books I've read as well, so if you like my content, you should enjoy her's as well! Interested in getting in on her contest as well? See her post here for details. Read it carefully because her details/extra entries requirements are a little different to mine.

So if you're interested in winning a GC for some extra books and want better chances, then please follow me, Jess and help spread the word. It would be massively appriciated.

Contest To Check Out! [6]

Over at The Rabbit Hole there is a 100+ Follows giveaway going on, open internationally.

There is a seperate US only and International giveway. The US one has some awesome books including a signed copy of Cassandra Clare's City of Glass. The international portion is a choice of book from The Book Depository up to $15. It's open until 8th October

So head over to the post here to check out the full details, rules and enter!

Thursday, 23 September 2010


Hello all :) I seem to have picked up several new followers of late, so a big welcome to you, I really appreciate it!

In case you hadn't noticed, I've not posted any reviews since Saturday. This wasn't intentional, I have 3 finished titles I intend to review, but I am sick. I spent most of yesterday asleep. And suspect today will be more of the same. I can't really focus long enough to write a decent review at the moment so I apologise for the lack of reasonable content and hope to correct this soon. Hopefully I'll be doing better at the weekend.

Til then, much love and a thank you to all my followers :) When I hit 100 there will be a giveaway, though I've no idea what just yet, but I promise it'll be something good, and open internationally. ♥

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is a YA werewolf book coming next month which I'm very excited for! And if nothing else, is that not a stunning cover?!

Title: Nightshade
Author: Andrea Cremer
Release Date: 19th October 2010
"While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies' throats. And she wouldn't have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth birthday she'll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla's predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy'ss secret will turn the young pack's world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches' War that surrounds them all."

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB. over at Should Be Reading which gives the chance to share a small, spoiler free snippet of what you're currently 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

So if you've yet to hear about the #SpeakLoudly twitter tag, the blog posts to go with it, or the starting point for it all, an article from one man who would like to see a few books banned (amongst other things) for reasons may are upset and angry over, myself included, where have you been? One of those books is Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. I'd see the cover for this book before, but I hadn't looked in to it. But I did on Sunday when all this started, and I instantly ordered a copy. It arrived today and I'm only a little way in to it cause I had to finish my other read first, but so far, it's great, and it's my Tuesday Teaser this week. And I'm cheating a little, this is actually 3 lines from it.

"And everything else that ever mattered in my entire existence just...stopped. I was underwater again, seeing things in a slow-motion fuzz without sound or context, without feeling, without care. The whole world could have ended and I wouldn't have noticed."
~ page 18

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little Brown
Genre:  YA

Monday, 20 September 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey. It gives the chance to share what you've read over the past week, and are planning on reading over the coming one.

The Crescent by Jordan Deen [review]
Personal Demons by Lisa Derochers [review]
Fade by Lisa McMann [review]
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin [review]

And I'm currently working on Unraveled by Gena Showalter, 100 pages in to its 572.

This week I'm not planning on finishing many books cause I've got some other stuff going on, but top of the planned list right now:

Linger by Maggie Striefvater

Gone by Lisa McMann

I'll be happy if I manage to add to that, but I'm not going to jinx it by listing more ;)

So what are you reading?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Speak Loudly. Post 2

I wasn't going to do this. I really, really wasn't. But people far braver than I, people with far bigger reason to speak up have so how can I stay quiet?

The SpeakLoudly hashtag on Twitter has been going crazy all day. If you don't know the story yet, read the post where it started on Laurie Halse Anderson's blog.

The posts that have brought me to write this are:
C. J. Redwine, a rape survivor and Christian.
Myra McEntire, another Christian view.
Veronica Roth, with her Christian view.
A Pinch Of Panache, Lindsey, with her open letter to Wesley Scroggins, another Christian view.

Can you see where this is going yet? They have all written posts far more eloquent than this will be, but I can't stay quiet. Bare with me cause this will be messy and seem really pointless to start with. It's rough and I'm not going to bother editing it.

I am a Christian. I am a ME/CFS sufferer. I have suffered since I was 11 years old, that's 10 and half years now. More. It'll be 11 in January. What does this mean? It means I am not 'normal'. My body can't cope with life. I get exhausted from simple things, doing laundry, reading a book, sitting up in bed. Not, sleep-will-cure exhaustion. I mean, physically can't lift your arm, you leg, your head exhaustion. The kind that comes with burning muscle pain, headaches, brain fog that means I can't form simple sentences. Can't tolerate sound, light, certain materials on my skin. Body can't control it's own temperature, so often to hot or can't stop shivering. Can't think. Can't sleep. Can't go to school, hang out with friends, can't have a life.

I missed 4 straight months of my first year of high school. I lost all my friends. I suffered depression on and off for most of these years. A darkness that had me taking a knife to my wrists on more than one occasion. Doctors who couldn't do anything. A younger sister who thought it was unfair I got to stay home when she had to go to school, unaware of my pain, how lonely and isolated I was. My parents couldn't stay home with me, they had to work. So it was just me. At 11, all through my teens, all through school, home alone. I did manage to pick up 4 GCSE's with the help of a special school program. I was there 1-3 half days a week for a year at 14/15 and 3 half days a week at 15/16, and they got me through exams. A semblance of normal.

I started college, full time, a dumb idea but I wanted to work with horses so dammit I was going to learn real management of them. Failed. Couldn't cope. Took more and more sick days until I had to drop out. Twice. Two years running. Depression reigns. Still couldn't keep a friend. Didn't know how to talk to anyone. Too different. No one understood. So I stayed quiet. Tried to be as 'normal' as I could be. Very unsuccessfully. Everyone just thought me more and more strange. How could they without having it themselves? That list above of symptoms, all of which I've had to greater and lesser degrees over the years? You think you know, but trust me, unless you have it, you can't, not fully. I don't say that to be harsh, it's just a simple truth, one I've had to come to terms with and accept.

Went to church as a kid, every week. Mum's a Christian, so of course I went. Got sick and started to wonder, how could there be a God when I was so sick? When I was so alone and couldn't keep a friend? When I was as far from normal as I believed possible? What was wrong with me? If there really was a God, he certainly didn't care about me. I am in tears writing this. Again. I've done it before, not online but for my Baptism, and it was one of the hardest things I've done. I think this may be harder.

I got, kind of forced, though unintentionally, by people my mum knew at church to join the new youth group format, small groups, once a week, a bit of a chat, bible study, talk, prayer and social, depending on the week. It coincided with the start of college, the first time. And it was okay. Turned out, as much an outsider as I felt, it was okay. But I still didn't really believe. Or I thought so, but how can you be angry at something you don't believe? Anyway, I went, I didn't really connect with anyone, but I liked learning, I liked talking with the leaders. At that point I was far more adept at talking to adults than teens who had no worries, or that was my take. I was young, scared, depressed and very naive, forgive me. Over time though, I realised I'd stopped being mad and started to believe. Really believe. I started to pray, alone not just when I was told to. I started to worship. And there is where I really met God and came to know him.

A loving, forgiving God. A God who doesn't hate. Doesn't censor. Doesn't turn His back on anyone. I grew and grew in my faith. Through a second drop out at college. Through more depression. I came closer to God. I was baptised and I made friends, at long last, who seemed to get it enough, that it seemed to be okay with. But the real breaking point? The one where I knew, no matter what, God was there, and He always would be. Was the night I got the news the person responsible for helping me come back to God, for helping me learn to speak out, to not keep my illness quiet, had had an affair. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I was shaking too hard, in shock, that mum had to drive me to that nights meeting. There was a youth meeting that night, where the minister and his wife came in, answered all questions people had, and then prayed. And they prayed that those who offered the problem, the hurt up to God, would be okay. And I did, I prayed that, because I knew there was no way in hell I could get through that alone. And the tears that hadn't stopped flowing, stopped. I felt more at peace then than I had ever felt til that point. And the depression was gone, it hasn't been back since.

And I am Free. I can Speak. I can finally talk about my illness, my depression, the pain, the anger, the hurt, the loneliness, the fear. I am not a perfect Christian, not by a long shot, and no such person exists. I sin, regularly, but I repent. I love God, I praise Him when things are bad and when they're good. Because without Him I wouldn't be here. Without Him, I would be lost in a dark, dark world. I have some really great online and real life friends now who I can talk with about anything and everything. I have a future because of God. He never turned from me, I turned from Him. He was always waiting, reaching for me. And I will never forget those times where prayed has pulled me from darker days again.

That's my story. That's me Speaking out. Speaking Loudly. Because I can. Because it's my choice, my right, and I should never have had to hide. Not what I deal with, not that I suffer, far more than I said for many, many years. I am stronger, in mind if not body, for Speaking out. It's raised awareness with those I love. It's raised my awareness of the suffering of others. You know what I did when I was too old for that youth group? I started helping. The first year I did was the year leading up to that disclosure that almost destroyed me but became my healing. The second was dealing with the fallout, the healing, and the third I had to stop because it was too much. But it was great, I learnt a lot, about God, about those around me and I am so, so glad I was there.

My suffering is not what Melinda's was in Speak, or C.J.'s in reality, along with thousands more, women, girls, boys and men. But I was suffering, and I was doing it in silence. Speak is about Speaking out. Not hiding. Not ignoring the reality of the world that surrounds us. I want every victim to be able to stand up and say 'I'm a survivor'. Speak could help people, teens, children, do just that. How is banning a book that could help a good idea? How is the book immoral? Because I don't see it. Not at all. Speak out, and Speak Loud. Because anything else will destroy lives. I believe in a God who wants that. I believe in a God who heals. Bad shit happens, to good people and bad. It happens to those from all races, religions, rich and poor. I wish our world was a better place, and things like this, like hiding the truth because someone doesn't want to believe it happens (and I can only assumes that's the reality, because anything else is tragic), is just going to hurt and make it worse. Speak Out, Speak Loud and don't ever, ever stop. Rape isn't sex. Rape is Rape. It's violent and ugly. It's something the victim is never, NEVER responsible for. Speak Out. This one man wants us all to shut up. Not. Fucking. Likely. Been there, done that, it doesn't work, it makes life miserable, unbearable.

If you made it to the end of this, I thank you. My faith is something that rarely makes it on to my blog. It's personal and complicated and I rarely know what to say. But like I said, far better people than I have spoken out today, how can I not.

Speak Loudly [edited]

To say I'm disgusted right now would be an understatement. You may well have caught sight of this on Twitter already, but I'm bringing it up here as well.

It's September and those who would ban books are at it. One guy, Wesley Scroggins, has called to have Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson banned (as well as others, but having not read them I can't comment on them specifically). He has an article here, in which he calls two rape scenes 'soft core porn'. There is nothing, nothing, sexually stimulating about rape scenes. And for him to think so raises serious, awful questions.

For those who don't know, here's a short, spoiler full description:

Speak is about a girl who was raped at a party, called 911 but couldn't talk to the police. It's about her coming to terms with it, the isolation, fear, memories she has to deal with and face. And the ability to learn to stand up. To speak out. To say that rape is not okay. That saying no, means no. It's a brave and very good book which should help teens in those situations to speak out. To not suffer in silence. To begin discussion on what is often a subject turned away from when it should be talked about. For healing, for information, for support.

Banning it can, in my mind, only hurt. It's ignorance like this that makes subjects that should be open and disscussed, stay hidden in the shadows. It's dangerous. To use some of the words and phrases this guy did to justify it? Like I said, disgusted doesn't cover it.

Here's a link to Laurie's post on the subject. And if you agree, don't stay quiet. Speak Loudly. [EDIT] Check out the comments for links to other posts about the subject. Some really great posts.

This is one such post which brought me to tears. A very heartfelt, gutsy post on Christianity, faith, Speak and Speaking Loudly. Read it here. I completely agree with it all, and as a Christian myself, I am in awe of the strength it takes to be that open and honest about faith.

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Avery Hood is a small town girl who lived most of her life hidden away in the woods with her parents. It's what she knows, where she belongs. She's attended the local high school for a year, having been home schooled to that point, and she's not very impressed. Then one night changes everything. Her parents are brutally murdered, and Avery was there. But all she remembers is a flash of inhumanly fast silver. She can't remember anything else, just the rivers of blood she was found coated in. Suddenly, school, and everything else, doesn't seem as important.

Then she meets Ben. The new boy in school who is beautiful and mysterious. He's arrived in Woodlake after his own personal tragedy. Avery is drawn to this beautiful boy, and he to her. It doesn't take her long to figure out he is a werewolf. There have been stories for decades about werewolves living in the forests surrounding Woodlake, and Avery isn't surprised to discover it's truth not fiction. She can't help trusting Ben as their bond deepens. Except, his eyes flash silver sometimes. Can she really trust this mysterious boy who's part wolf? Or does he know more about her parents murder than she does.

I'd really been looking forward to this book for a while. I first heard about it from Jessica over at A GREAT Read who was lucky enough to score an early copy of it. She loved it, and it being a werewolf book, made it a must have for me. I wasn't disappointed. I picked it up in the morning with the intention of just reading a few pages before getting some stuff done, and a few short hours later, I was finished. I barely put it down.

The final line of the blurb on the dust jacket: "Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance' sums the books themes up very nicely. It was an intense start, thrown right in to Avery's grief, her memories of the night her parents were killed, and it doesn't stop. It's beautifully written, a feeling of longing and loss throughout the book detailing simply and accurately the nature of grief and love. I couldn't put it down because I needed to know what happened to her parents as badly as she did, I needed to know the whole story with Ben.

The romance between Ben and Avery was sweet and enthralling. It happened pretty quickly, but not out of the blue and the depth of their bond, how it works, was an aspect I really liked. The chemistry between them was palpable, steamy, sweet and caring all at once. And yet, despite falling for this boy, Avery's thoughts are almost constantly on her parents. On what could have killed them. Trying to remember that night. Trying not to lose all she has left of them, their house, their land. She's having to live with her Grandma, who is a near stranger to her now after she and her son, Avery's father, fell out and stopped talking years ago. She lives closer to town, but still with forests around her giving Avery at least a little comfort, at times. I love the relationship between Avery and Renee, her Grandma. There is pain from their shared loss, pain from the separation from the old fall out, and worry and fear over Avery's safety. Because it looks like whatever killer her parents, would like to see her gone as well. It's beautifully played, painful and real.

The murder mystery aspect of the book was very nicely done as well. No junior CSI here. Avery wants the truth, but she's not hunting for it herself. She knows, feels, that she's in danger from the thing that killer her parents, but her only attempts to figure things out herself, is her trying to remember that night. But wanting, needing that truth was so well done as well. Never far from the surface and never dragging.

I loved this book from beginning to end. I was almost in tears for Avery several times with some of the things she faced and the rawness of her grief. Beautifully written, fantastic characters, and a great story. I only wish it was longer because at a little shy 250 pages, it was over far, far too quickly.

Odd side note: This hardback version is so pretty!! The images for the cover on Amazon/GoodReads/B&N etc. don't do it justice, they look flat. Which is why I'm using an image I took of the cover instead, because it gives a hint of how much better it looks in person. The background red is a deep foil, making the other colors really stand out. And inside? There are pretty red trees at the bottom of the pages and around the chapter numbers as well. So, so pretty.

Rating: 10/10

In My Mailbox [3]

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kirsti at The Story Siren. Gives us the chance to share what books we've bought/received over the past week.

For Review:
The Crescent by Jordan Deen [review] - from UK Book Tours, thank you!

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers [review]
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Also received The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hall from one of my best friends. She told me I can take a year to read it because that's how long she'd had some of my books. She's been away on a gap year with little reading time so I don't hold it against her, much ;)

Not so much this week, but my bank balance is very happy for it. Gives me a chance to catch up a little on some reading as well! So what did you get in your mailbox this week?

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

"Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance - even her closest friends - and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions - for Hell - and she possesses a unique skill set that has the King of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he's as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn't stand a chance.
Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn't get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.
But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay...for all of them."

Personal Demons is the debut book from Lisa Desrochers, the first of a planned trilogy. Take a girl, a Catholic girl with a crisis of faith and a very special skill. Add in an incredibly hot demon intent on corrupting her to take her back to Hell. An equally hot angel, intent on saving her soul to take her back to Heaven. Both wanting her for that special skill on their own sides. Add in some good old teenage hormones and you've got one of the hottest teen reads there are. Like, hot enough I was worrying about the sizzle factor it could cause on my favourite shelf. Yes really.

Okay, so this book is not simply about the love triangle, though it's certainly about that as well. It's about a girl who can't forgive herself for something that happened in her past. It's brought her to keep everyone at bay and question everything about the God she was raised to believe. When Luc and Gabe both suddenly appear as students at her high school, with obvious interest in her, things start spiraling out of control. Frannie is someone who has worked hard for her control, to keep others at a distance. She knows that Luc is bad for her. She knows that Gabe should be the easy choice of the two. But letting either of them in is something she isn't really prepared for.

I was hooked from the first snippet of this book I read on Lisa's blog, so of course I was very excited for it to finally be out and me to finally have my hands on it. And I wasn't let down at all. I could barely put it down and finished it in a day pretty easily. I confess that despite my love for the snippets I'd already read, I thought this would primarily be a love triangle story, with only semi deep characters. Which would have been okay, cause sometimes those books are exactly what's wanted. But that wasn't actually the case. Frannie and Luc (who both narrate the story) were both deep, well rounded characters who grew and changed through the book. Gabe was as well, although we don't see as much of him as Luc. The battle for Frannie's soul, and her heart, is the main plot of the book, but there is so much else tied in to it and it works beautifully.

And the sexual tension between Frannie and the boys? Oh hell! Seriously intense. Both guys are very hot, and have different qualities that made me love them both pretty equally. I am totally team Luc, but I think I want Gabe for myself. Don't get me wrong, Luc is amazing, and I love his darker edge, but there is just something about Gabe that I just fell in love with. And yet I'm team Luc because for Frannie, I believe that's the only way it should go.

It's a fast paced read, and very well written. The chemistry between characters is undeniable, but also the depth and seriousness to them. This isn't a light, easy read, or I didn't find it as such. It honestly made me think a lot more than I thought it would, in a very good way. Some really good twists along the way and some great character development as well. It's dark, sexy and simply fantastic. There's some good funny moments as well, and some of the reactions to Luc and Gabe constantly had me cracking up. The ending got pretty intense and while certain aspects felt a little light for what had happened, there was still a subtle darker undertone of things still to come. I loved it from page one and I am very excited for books 2 and 3, Original Sin and Hellbent (out 2011 and 2012). I think my only real complaint is with the cover. While the modals' may be a match on the physical description (more or less), both Frannie and Luc look too old to be 17 (okay, so Luc isn't 17, but he is meant to look like he is). But really, what does a cover matter? I loved it the inside content. A must read.

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Fade by Lisa McMann

Dream Catcher #2. Contains spoilers from book #1, Wake.
"Some nightmares never end.
For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.
Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open - but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behaviour has grave consequences for them both.
Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability - and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd even feared..."

I  loved Wake, the first book in this trilogy, and was told by one of my very good book buddies that Fade was, in her opinion anyway, even better. Honestly, I wasn't sure, because I adored Wake and good as second/third/whatever books in a series can be, quite often (with me at least) first books which hook me far harder than expected, leave too big a lasting impression for them to be easily bettered. Turns out, my bud was right, because Fade was immense and I loved it even more than Wake!

It's been a month since the huge drug bust Cabel and Janie got to the bottom of with the undercover cops they work with and Janie is only just recovering from the affects of it. But now the Captain has a new case for them. She's certain something is going on at the school, something dark and sinister, but she needs Janie, with her dream catcher skills, and Cabel's easy way of blending in and getting people talking, to try and get to the bottom of it. But it's not a simple task. And dangerous for Janie. Meanwhile, she's also searching through Martha Stubin's old files, trying to learn more about what she can do. But that too carries dark, dangerous secrets for her.

Yeah, I so totally got sucked in within moments of starting this book! I love the way Cabe looks out for Janie, but how they're both still so vulnerable, not used to affection, that they find it a little difficult and awkward negotiating some of their relationship. I love how Janie wants to help others in their dreams, but that it comes at a cost. Nothing in life is free or easy and Janie's abilities are no exception. It adds a realness to the book I really like. Janie and Cabe are both awesome characters to follow, together and apart, dealing with their own issues and insecurities. I came to love them even more with Fade, and I think we get to know them a lot better. I also loved the developments of Janie's dream walking, how it affected her, how she's learning control and the cost. I was willing Janie on as she worked to figure out what was going on in her school, and I was so, so proud of her for how she handled things. I wasn't too sure what to really make of the Captain in Wake, but I enjoyed getting more on her in this book, and I really like her now as well, particularly for the role she played towards the end of the book.

Fade continues themes from Wake, but it's also a whole new crime story as well. One that thoroughly creeped me out at times I have to say. But I kind of love books that creep me out without making me love the rest just the same. It's fast paced like Wake, with some good twists and is written in that same short, gripping style than helps with the can't-put-down factor. I very literally couldn't put this book down from about halfway, and I'd barely put it down before that. I just had to find out what happened. I just love everything about these books. The darkness, the realness to Janie's relationships, how she, and Cabe, grow from what they've learnt and faced. I love the protectiveness and love between them, the soft caring nature of their relationship. Suffice to say I can't wait to read Gone, book #3 of the trilogy. No cliff hanger here, it was a very satisfying conclusion to this stage of their story. And yet I wanted more soon as I was done anyway. Sadly, I have to wait a week before I'll have Gone in my hands. This was an awesome read, great characters, fast pace, even some great humor in places taking the edge off the darkness for a moment or two. One of my favourite reads so far this year.

Rating: 10/10

Friday, 17 September 2010

Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

"The ultimate battle. The ultimate love.
For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampire are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.
Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated - and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.
Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself - and her heart."

This world, Jenn and the other main characters, were first introduced in a short story in The Eternal Kiss, a YA anthology which was released last year. You don't need to read that story to read this, the important things from it are covered in plenty of detail in this story. But I loved that short story. I was very excited to find out that there would be a series, a trilogy I believe, to come from it.

Jenn, Antonio, Skye, Holgar, Eriko and Jamie are a team of hunters. One of very few, normally hunters work alone, and they're lucky to survive a few months. But just because they're a team, doesn't mean they get on. In fact, they barely trust each other, or themselves. The only one they really seem to trust is their handler, Father Juan, one of the men who trained them. When Jenn travels back to the US after the sudden death of a family member she finds out just how bad the situation is, that vampires, the Cursed Ones, really are taking over everything. When she's betrayed by someone close to her while there, she finds herself in serious danger. Her team is sent out to meet up with her and help her out, if they can keep from killing each other along the way. But the odds they face shock even this elite trained team of hunters. Getting out alive may not be an option for them.

The first third of the book is heavy on the back ground, a lot of information on the characters, their histories, the history of how the vampires came out to the world. It makes is slow going forward, but I didn't find it bad. I actually quite enjoyed learning it all. And the little bits of the main plot moving forward were really great. So while it was slow going, it was good. From about a third of the way in it starts to pick up, less background more forward movement and by the halfway point it was great, much faster, must more action. But it still felt a little heavy going. I think it's the amount of information, the way the story is told. It's written in third person, from many points of view. Jenn is the focus, but we get everyone elses story as well, adding the the amount of info floating around. It's good, great even at times, getting to know all the different characters, their pasts, why they fight as they do, what matters to them. It just never felt like a fast read. It's long, 470 pages, and despite having other things going on I did still finish it within a couple of days, so it read faster than it felt. There are also a lot of translation sentences. Spanish and a little Latin, where it's said then translated in full (which is great for someone like me who doesn't know either) but it does add to it sometimes feeling like it's slowing down.

That said, there is plenty of action. I really like the concepts for this world, the vampires, Cursed Ones, coming out, trying to rule the world, while pretending to be harmless when they're clearly killers. The idea of special schools or academies which train people, teens usually, to be hunters fits nicely and how they all have reasons for doing what they do. I really liked Jenn and Antonio, along with Skye and Holgar in particular. I actually really liked all of the team of hunters, but those four are my favourites at this point. All the back stories for the characters have been really thought out and developed, Antonio's fears, Jenn's lack of self confidence, they're all hiding things and it was hard not to feel sympathy for them and their actions at least some of the time.

The tension built up well, slowly at first but always there, and the feeling of constant threat grew to boiling point towards the end. It was intense, sad, great and left me wanting a lot more. Which, having just read 470 pages, is a pretty good thing! I've got my theories, concerns and hopes for what could happen next with certain characters and issues, but I'm at a loss to really know where it's going right now. Lots left open, but still with a satisfying end for this first book. Yes, it started off slow, but there was no point at which I wanted to really put it down or consider stopping. And I think all the info that is in this book, is very worth it. I really loved the second half of the book in particular, but overall I think it's a great read and I'm really looking forward to the second one.

Rating: 9/10

Hourglass by Claudia Gray

Evernight #3, review contains spoilers for previous books.

"After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas seek refuge with Black Cross, an elite group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend - the vampire Balthazar - all her secrets threaten to come out.
Soon, Bianca and Lucas have orchestrated Balthazar's escape and are on the run, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they run, Bianca can't escape her destiny.
Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything - but can it survive what's to come?"

Book 2 of the Evernight series, Stargazer, ended rather dramatically. Evernight attacked, set on fire, and Bianca and Lucas escaped only with Black Cross. Now Black Cross are giving her refuge, still under the belief that she's human, kidnapped and raised by vampires as a baby. If they find out the truth, that she is actually a vampire herself, they'll kill her. And most likely Lucas as well. But they don't have anywhere else to go. Escaping from Black Cross could well be harder than escaping Evernight, and they need money they don't have as well. So they stay, Bianca trains, learns to fight, while starving for blood only able to get a little every few days instead of daily like she needs. Bianca and Lucas get little time together either, not alone, and Bianca can't confide in her roommate, Raquel, either because she's sided completely with Black Cross. It leaves Bianca feeling very alone in the heart of enemy territory.

Then Balthazar, Bianca's closest friend from Evernight, a vampire, is captured. Bianca can't watch them torture him so she convinces Lucas they have to save him, somehow. Lucas, who has never liked Balthazar for his attraction to Bianca, agrees for her sake more than anything. But he puts his heart in to it and together they come up with a plan. But in such close quarters, can they really save him and continue to keep Bianca's secret? And Lucas', because if they discover Bianca's fed from him, he'll be in just as much trouble. Living on the run, Mrs Bethany, the powerful head of Evernight Academy, after them, surrounded by Black Cross members who'd kill them in an instant if the truth came out, things are far from certain for Bianca and Lucas.

I really, really loved this book. It was fascinating seeing Bianca and Lucas attempt to cope within Black Cross. Neither wanted to be there and the tension between Lucas and some of the members was almost explosive. It wasn't always fast paced, but it never felt slow either. I think there is more action in this book than the previous two, and I loved seeing how they both dealt with the things thrown their way.

It's a great continuation of the series, building on previous events, more secrets are revealed and dealt with, and both Lucas and Bianca continue to grow and learn from the things they face. I've loved how this series has developed. Ms. Gray does a great job of hiding things until the last moment, with just subtle hints before hand which don't make anything easy to guess, but makes perfect sense when you understand what's going on.

I've loved Bianca and Lucas from the start, and Balthazar grew on me a lot as well through Stargazer and this. But Vic has become one of my all time favourite side characters with this book. I loved him already, but even more so now. He's smart, takes things in stride, and yet has a serious, deeper side which just makes him more impressive and lovable.

The build up for the ending is intense. I confess that I think Bianca and Lucas should have figured out what was going on with her a bit sooner than she did. But on the other hand, it does still make sense that they didn't. The ending though, about killed me. I'm so glad I hadn't got in to this series sooner and read this as soon as it released, because the wait for the final book, Afterlife, may just kill me and I've got less to wait than some. Such an awesome series, great writing, great story, great characters, and a must read. It's still far from your typical YA vampire series and it's up there with Strange Angels [Lili St. Crow] and Vampire Academy [Richelle Mead] on my favourites list.

Rating:  9/10

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Crescent by Jordan Deen

I got this book for review thanks to Lynsey and her site UK Book Tours, thank you!! xx

"Becoming a werewolf is not an option for seventeen-year-old Lacey Quinn, but death can be a strong motivator.

Lacey is so focused on her future that everyday life has passed her by. Counting down the days to her eighteenth birthday, Lacey is almost home free. But when she falls for the mysterious Alex Morris, she lands in the middle of an ancient war between two enemy wolf packs. Tempting dreams, tantalizing lies and a dangerous love triangle ensues leaving Lacey heartbroken and confused.

Lacey's fate rests in the hands of Alex and Brandon, but both are pulling her strings for their own agenda's. Even as she slips further into the dark world of werewolves, Lacey struggles to find the truth and save the only family she's ever known."

Werewolves are my favourite supernatural creature, and have been basically always. I confess I got in to fantasy via vampires, well via Buffy actually, but it was werewolves that got me in to UF books with Kelley Armstrong's Bitten, thus starting my obsession with the supernatural. So I'm willing to give pretty much any werewolf book a try in an attempt to add to my werewolf book collection. When this book went up for tour on the UK Book Tour site, it was an automatic sign up for me. I wasn't let down at all!

Lacey is seventeen, human, no idea of a supernatural world around her. When a huge dog, a stray, appears in her garden and she can't find his owners, she lets him stay. He offers her a comfort, a security she was missing at home, her parents constantly fighting. Then she meets Alex. He just walks in to the school office one day to register for classes. Lacey can barely take her eyes off him, or form words around him. But he's very mysterious, and knows a lot more about her than she's told him. As things progress with him, they get stranger. She starts having vivid dreams, not of Alex, but of another guy, Brendon, who appeared just once in the school office, shortly after Alex's arrival. Strange stories of werewolves, packs and mates start flying around and Lacey begins to wonder what's real. How much is reality and how much a dream, a nightmare. She struggles to figure out the truth, to choose a guy, first love or true love. Caught in the middle of a way she didn't know existed. Where one wrong move from her could mean death for others.

It didn't take long for me to get in to The Crescent and start loving it. Lacey started off on the right foot with me simply by being an animal lover. She feels unsettled at home, her parents constantly fighting, hiding things from even her closest friend about them. She's never really felt like she really belongs, like an outsider, and an outcast at school. It's easy to see why she felt so off balance with Alex's attention.

I love the build up, the different reactions to both guys, to the idea that werewolves exist in her world, how certain elements of being a werewolf work, and the tension that fills it all was pretty perfect. Kept me reading and I barely put it down. I loved seeing how the dreams and reality clashed, confusing for Lacey and how she dealt with it all in her head, how it's written, made me start questioning what was actually real at times as well. There are certain aspects of 'reality' in the book that have serious dream like qualities.

This is a debut book and it was awesome, it's not very long at only 187 pages, but it packs a lot in to those pages. There is a lot of depth to Lacey, I loved getting to know her better, or trying to anyway, and trying to figure out the mystery surrounding both boys and the wolves. The rest of the characters are pretty mysterious, none as straight forward as they sometimes seem, and while I loved and seriously disliked some, they all held my interest and have a role to play. It's well written, it's smart, it's got a werewolf I've fallen fairly in love with and a protagonist I'm aching for, while urging her to make the right choices.

I confess I've been going through a phase of simple hatred for love triangles in books, and knowing I was about to wade in to another, made me cautious going in to this book. My heart is aching enough for fictional love triangles without adding another. But dammit, I fell. I fell for the characters, the setting, the wolves and yes, I wish it was just a little easier for Lacey to pick, that she'd realise the right guy and not be torn any more, but well, this is the first of a trilogy and that wouldn't really work now would it? Love triangles where it's too obvious who the girl should pick, or those where the second love interest is simply an obvious plot twist drive me crazier than those which tear me apart. This one is far closer to the latter. For me, it's an easy pick which side to come down on, but I can sympathize with Lacey's decision and why she is so torn.

The plot revolves around the love triangle, but there is a bit of an added twist I didn't fully see coming until it was explained. That, with everything else I've already listed as great about this book, meant I wound up loving it. The ending was so tense, I really wasn't sure what was going to happen, how it would play out, and it left me wanting a whole lot more. I can't wait for book 2, Half Moon (due out 13th Jan 2011), or even the third book, Full Moon (due later in 2011). This was a great YA werewolf book with a dark edge. I highly recommend it and I'm going to get my own copy of it just as soon as I can! My only real complaint about this book isn't about the story at all, it's wondering where the heck the editor was. There are a lot of grammar mistakes and typos in this book. They bothered me a bit to start with, stopping it from being a smooth read, but I soon got deep enough in to the book that I skimmed right over them hungry to find out what happened next. It's a pretty fast paced book and like I already said, I could barely put it down. Great read that I really can't do justice for. Just read it.

Rating: 9/10

Stargazer by Claudia Gray

This is the second book in the Evernight series and this review is written on the assumption you've read book one, Evernight, because there are BIG spoilers from it! So skip this if you've not read Evernight yet, and read my review for that instead here. No spoilers for Stargazer ahead.

"Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all - vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas - a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross - or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning..."

Having loved Evernight, I was very, very much looking forward to this second book in the series. It picks up a few months after the end of Evernight, with Lucas still with Black Cross and Bianca at Evernight with her parents, her second year about to begin.

Bianca, ever more dependant on blood for survival, is looking forward to the new school year simply for the distraction it'll bring her. She's spent months pining for Lucas, unable to reach him, unable to explain to her parents, because of course they'd love to see him dead. They still believe he played her and that she doesn't want him now she knows the truth, that he's Black Cross, a vampire hunter. Day one of the new year brings a welcome intrusion, a letter from Lucas, delivered via his former roommate, Vic. Apparently Lucas is missing Bianca just as badly and he wants to see her, and though it means somehow sneaking off campus, alone, she's determined to make it happen.

But that's not all she's dealing with. Something dark is haunting Evernight. Literally. Wraiths, or ghosts, are appearing, attacking the school. Bianca is determined to understand why, and to find out why there are human students at Evernight. Mrs. Bethany seems to be planning something, and Bianca is scared of what that could mean. But the truth she discovers makes her wonder how much of what she really knows, is actually true. And if maybe staying at Evernight is even an option for her anymore.

I confess that while I was really looking forward to this book, it didn't start out great for me. In fact, I found the first half very stop start. Something intense would happen, then it'd go back to Bianca at Evernight, thinking a lot but little happening, and a fair few of the same thoughts rotating in her head, then it's start up again. I understand why it happened like that, showing Bianca's everyday life along with the more interesting bits, but it did mean it felt a little ragged to start with. It wasn't actually bad, it was things that needed to be there, and I was still liking it, but it wasn't great.

Around the halfway point things really started to pick up. The pacing levelled out and everything started rolling together. It got pretty intense towards the end as well as bigger secrets kept being revealed and Bianca realised and dealt with the outcome of certain events. I got really sucked in to the second half and felt every up and down with Bianca. And the creep factor of the wraiths didn't hurt either.

I love the relationship with Lucas. I'm not always a fan of instant love where the two feel like they're destined for each other and such. But I can't help loving these two. I think it's the fact that they are so different, have so many issues to work through and that they're not around each other constantly and when they are, they still have to think about everything else going on as well. It's not just about their relationship, although that is the main aspect of the books.

It's also not hard to relate to Bianca's parental issues. Yes her issues are very different to those 'normal' teens face, but even so, I think it's easy to understand the frustration, the betrayal she feels, and how she wants to lean on them but be an adult as well. Her friendship issues are the same way. How she wants to get close, hates having to lie and knowing she has to. And how she screws up, makes the wrong choices sometimes, and how that affects her also makes it easier to relate to her and like her.

This is a great continuation of the set up started in Evernight, a deeper look in to the vampire mythology, how Black Cross works, and explores the issues Bianca, as a born vampire, is facing in a little more depth. It's a great set up for the next two books as well, and the ending made me very, very glad I already had book 3, Hourglass, to dive in to. Bianca grows a lot through this book, she's a bit less innocent by the end, and she's not the only one. It was great getting to see some more of some other characters as well, Vic, Raquel and Balthazar in particular. I really like them all (and I adore Vic, though that's a little more Hourglass related) and feel they add a lot to the books. So while it didn't start out great, I still really loved this book and felt the better parts and the second half more than made up for the earlier issues. 9/10

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by Miz B. over at Should Be Reading which gives the chance to share a tiny snippet of the book you're currently 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've actually just finished a read and have yet to start another because I want to get some reviews done first, so here's a snippet from the book I finished this morning (will try and get the review up for it later!).

"Barely sunset, and death exploded all around Jenn Leitner.
It was a trap, she thought."
~ page 5

Title: Crusade [Crusade #1]
Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Publisher - date: SimonPulse - Sept 7th 2010
Genre: YA, urban fantasy

Monday, 13 September 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey which gives us the chance to share what we've read over the past week, and those we're planning on reading over the coming one.

I mentioned last week that there were a lot of books I wanted to read over the coming one, and that I was unlikely to get through half of the ones I wanted to. I wasn't wrong. But here's what I did manage to read:
Firelight by Sophie Jordan [review]
Stargazer by Claudia Gray
Hourglass by Claudia Gray

And I'm now 274 pages (of 470) in to Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie. I'm hoping to finish Crusade tonight, though that may well be wishful thinking, and I'm also going to try and get reviews for Stargazer and Hourglass up later as well (short version, I adored them both, especially Hourglass).

My plans for this week (post Crusade of course):

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers (to say I'm desperate for this one would be an understatement!! Fingers crossed it arrives in the post tomorrow).

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin. I am missing my favourite brand of shifters, werewolves, hoping this satisfies that craving some.

Fade by Lisa McMann [Dream Catcher #2]. Had really hoped to fit it in last week, it didn't happen, so I'm determined to read it this week.

So what have you been reading?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

In My Mailbox [2]

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kirsti at The Story Siren and is a chance to share the books we've bought/received over the past week.

Once again this was a week full of new books for me. Too many. Far, far too many cause not only didn't I get get through many, but I'm more than a little over what money I actually have...oops. As a result I'm going to implement a self imposed month long book buying ban, 28th Sept - 28th October. Oct will be a long month...

Anyway, this week I bought:

Stargazer by Claudia Gray [Evernight #2]
Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie [Cursed Ones #1]
Firelight by Sophie Jordan [Firelight #1] [review]
Fade by Lisa McMann [Dream Catcher #2]
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater [Wolves of Mercy Falls #2]
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare [Infernal Devices #1]

Far too many sort of caused a book shelf re-org, which was not fun but actually worked out well. Shelves look all neat again, though still almost maxed =/

So what did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Nine Years

I've been thinking for the past few days, wondering how it can possibly be nine years since 9/11 already. The day that changed the world. Really, there are no words. I've read two stories from authors last night and today, Meg Cabot and Susane Colasanti, who both live in NYC, and, I have nothing to say. Read them.

9/11. Never Forget.

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."

Draki are the decedents of dragons. Their ability to take human form is their biggest secret, and their greatest defense from the hunters who track them to capture them for their skins and abilities. 16 year old Jacinda is the first fire breather in her Pride for generations. She's rarely seen as more than a prize, and all her Pride wants her. Cassian, son of the alpha, intends to win her however he can. He already sees her as 'his.' But after she and best friend Az have a very near miss with hunters, her mom takes her and her twin Tamra away in the middle of the night.

Stuck in the middle of the desert, away from the life giving cool, moist mountain earth and air, Jacinda's draki will fade and die. Her mother's draki faded years ago, and Tamra never manifested. They're both human and very happy to be out of the Pride in the human world, for Tamra it's a chance to finally be normal away from all the attention Jacinda gets. For Jacinda, it's a death sentence. Her draki isn't just some part of her, it's who she is. She can't live without it.

Then she meets Will. A guy who literally gets her hot. When she's near him, or touching him, Jacinda's draki thrives. And the attraction seems to be mutual. But Jacinda knows Will is a hunter. And he has no clue she's a draki. Being near him is dangerous, possibly deadly, but Jacinda will do almost anything to keep her draki alive, including getting close to the enemy.

I loved this book from the start. Jacinda's voice, her passion for her draki, for flight and freedom, drew me right in and didn't let go. I held my breath right along with her in the second chapter when the hunter got too close. I felt her pain, anguish and uncertainty as she tried to understand and keep her mom and sister happy in a place that was killing her.

I loved the tension between Jacinda and Will. He isn't like most of the hunters, that much is obvious from the start. His family are killers. But Jacinda's draki gets very close to the surface when she's near him, and I loved seeing how she tried to keep it hidden from him, constantly running away at inappropriate times. Which doesn't make things easy for either of them as she can't be honest with him about why she keeps withdrawing from him.

There was an almost constant dark, tense edge to the book as well, with two main sources. One was Cassian, who Jacinda knew would find her eventually, and that he'd try to force her back to the Pride to be his. Something she was very keen to avoid. The other came from Xander. He's Will's cousin and probably Jacinda's biggest threat. He's noticed her because Will did, and the competition between the two means Xander wants her as well, but not in a good way.

I loved the mythology used as well. The idea of dragons having evolved to draki, shifters, with different kinds and abilities, worked very well. I actually would have been happy with more on the myth and details of the different types of draki, and how the Prides work, than we got. There was enough to get in to and to explain things, but there wasn't any extras. Which probably works great for some people, who will prefer the bigger focus being on the romance side. Personally, I'm very, very curious about the draki and I want to know more!

There is a little predictability to this book at times. You can see some things coming, work them out before they happen. But I didn't actually mind this too much because I was really enjoying getting to know Jacinda, and Will (who, by the way, = HOT (very literally for Jacinda...)), and following their story. Their reactions to the issues and obstacles thrown their way made the predictability of certain things not matter. The heart of this book is the love story between two sworn enemies, I don't doubt that at all. But it's also about the draki, Jacinda's draki, surviving as the hunters chase them. And it's about a girl, torn from everything she knows, facing huge life changing decisions and secrets, learning about herself and trying to make the right decisions. I was really impressed with her towards the end of the book, because there were times I didn't exactly like how she was acting, but she grew up a lot. Lost some of the naivety surrounding her at times. A very, very good read I highly recommend. The ending isn't a cliff hanger exactly, but it definitely left me wanting more! Easily finished it in a few hours because I couldn't put it down as well, they went far too quick! 9/10