Sunday, 28 March 2010

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

SPOILER WARNING. Some minor spoilers for the previous books in the series.

This is the 5th book in Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mechanic and coyote skinwalker Mercy Thompson is used to getting in trouble with bigger, badder supernaturals than herself. She lives next door to, and dates, local alpha werewolf Adam Hauptman, works with a Fae and is friends with a vampire. She knows how dangerous the Fae can be, she's met with two of their leaders before. But why she seems to being targeted by them now, she doesn't know.

If playing the Fae's deadly games wasn't enough, Samuel, Mercy's roommate and long time friend, is in trouble. He's an old wolf, living as a lone one in Adam's territory. Being close to Mercy was supposed to help him, but now the depression that's been plaguing him for months suddenly worsens. Mercy doesn't know how to help him, keep him safe from Adam, and deal with the Fae at the same time. But Mercy hasn't survived in a wolfs world without being stubborn and learning a thing or two about keeping herself alive.

I completely loved this book. The whole series is fantastic, but this book is quite possibly my favourite of the series so far. Mercy is still dealing with what happened to her at the end of Iron Kissed (book 3) and Adam is doing his best to help her with that. Their relationship has grown slowly, carefully and I love it. There is something very real about their relationship. I also really love Adam's teen aged daughter, Jesse. She's smart and sassy and we get to see more of her in this book, showing how much she's got in common with her dad. I love the easy friendship she and Mercy share and how Jesse deals with all the werewolves, being only human too.

We learn a fair bit more about pack bonds and mate bonds through this book, as well as pack structure. And more about how a werewolf is a man and a wolf, and how the two work together, or don't as the case may be. The wolf lore and Fae lore explored here is interesting, without becoming boring or a lecture at any point. There is some really good character development through the book, with Mercy, Adam and Samuel in particular, but others as well.

The plot is tight with some very good twists and turns. I found this almost impossible to put down. There is some good humor and it's nice to get to know more of Adam's pack, as well as dealing with some on going issues (Samuel in particular). Both main plots, Samuel and his problems, and the Fae after Mercy, are both carefully woven together, neither taking away from the other, both are well developed. Mercy's emotions come across clearly and you feel all the ups and downs with her, understanding why she feels and acts the way she does. Overall, a really excellent series and one you must read if you like urban fantasy. This book is almost certainly my favourite so far with a great story, some very good sweet and funny moments, but pulling no punches when it comes to the bad stuff. Easily one of my favourite books so far this year. Can't wait for the next book, only wish we didn't have to wait a year for it!

Rating: 9/10

Ashes to Ashes by Jennifer Armintrout

"Being a vampire is a life-or-death situation. When I was first turned, I had only my survival to worry about. Now I'm locked in a battle for the existence of the entire human race - and the cards are definitely stacked against me.

The Voluntary Vampire Extinction Movement headquarters are destroyed, and their pet horror, the Oracle, is on the loose. She'll stop at nothing to turn the world into a vampire's paradise, even if it means helping the Soul Eater become a god and harnessing his power for her own evil ends. An ancient vampire, a blood-sucking near deity and oh, yeah, my presently human former sure thrown into the mix. I say bring it on. May the best monster win."

This is the third book in the Blood Ties series. I read the first one about 10 months ago, and the second one a couple months after that. I liked the first one, but the second I didn't enjoy so much, which is why it's taken me so long to read this one. I couldn't remember a whole lot about the books, just vauge details about the main players. This book started out pretty good, holding my attention with intrigue as to how the team were going to deal with the Oracle and the Soul Eater.

But quickly Carrie's focus switched to her constant (very irritating) battle to decide if she loves her sire, Nathan, or her former sire Cyrus, more. Every conversation between any of them, even the ones that started with their other problems, ended up on Carrie's emotions or theirs. I don't like Cyrus, not at all, and now Nathan and Carrie have annoyed me enough I don't particularly care about their story at all.

However, there are sections of this book from Max's POV. He's another vampire, a friend of Nathan's for many years. His story, I like. His relationship (of lack of) with werewolf Bella I found entertaining. The way they play off each other, both trying to protect themselves and remain as they always have, refusing to depend on anyone, is sweet, awkward and painful at times. Plus I felt that with them, there was far more to them, even though we see less of them. And when with them, there was plenty on the other aspects of the plot, the Oracle and the Soul Eater too. I looked forward to Max's sections, whereas Carrie's made me want to put the book down and not bother picking it up again.

There are a couple good twists at the end that I didn't see coming. But again, more with Max and Bella than Carrie, who tells most of the story. I found the book very easy to put down and almost had to force myself to pick it up again to finish it. It's very angst heavy and with less focus on the bigger plots (like say, the Oracle and the Soul Eater wanting to take over the world) than you would think, particularly based on the blurb. Overall, not a great read. A few decent moments, but nothing great. There is only one more book in the series, so I'll probably read it just to see what happens, but I'm in no hurry to.

Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A Change of Color

UK cover for Magic Burns is now live on AmazonUK. Two most obvious differences to the Bites cover? Background color (purple instead of green) and 'Kate's' top (red instead of blue). It's the same style top even, just a different color.
Some how she manages to look (very) slightly tougher in this one to Bites (see my post I can't decide) but other than that, I don't really like it. She's just posing. She doesn't look like she's some tough magic wielding, ass-kicking, Beast Lord loving girl, she just some not-so-smart girl posing with a big sword she doesn't know how to use.

I'm also disappointed with 'Curran' on this one, cause he looks a little...odd, to put it politely. I'd rather they had an image of a real lion to represent him, or a really hot, rough around the edges guy. Pity. I so wanted the UK covers for these to be good, but no, for a change the US gets the better ones. *sigh*

Admittedly, it could be far worse. But really, these books should have some of the most awesome covers in existance, and this just isn't it.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Devil's Playground by Jenna Black

SPOILER WARNING Some spoilers for previous books. Read at your own risk.

This is the 5th, and final (though I didn't know that before I started it), book in the Morgan Kingsley series. I didn't enjoy the first book in this series all that much, just enough to give the second one a shot, but in that one, Morgan really grew on me, and then further through the next two books. But this one is easily my favourite of them all.

Morgan has grown used to having demon king Lugh reside in her, and his advances in her dreams, but after a couple of easy months with no near death experiences for her, they, and Lugh's council on the mortal plain, have grown complacent. They get a rude awakening when Shea, owner of The Seven Deadlies, approaches Morgan with disturbing news: the number of illegal demons in town has risen drastically. Something big is going on, and Lugh suspects his brother back in the demon realm, Dougal - who is trying his best to de-throne Lugh, is responsible. It doesn't take long for Morgan and Lugh's team of demons and mortals to get involved, and deep in trouble again. Only this time they may have to risk everything to stop Dougal succeeding.

Everything in Morgan's personal life is coming to a head as well, as Brian realises he can't ignore that Lugh is with Morgan every second of her life, and what it means for their intimate moments. Likewise, Lugh's stepping up his advances on Morgan in her dreams. Is it really possible they can all get along? With Dougal's plans, it may not matter.

Like I said, Morgan took a while to grow on me, but now I really love her. I love how she's learnt to open up a little and trust through the series, and it really shows here. She's far from perfect but she tries, and that is the important thing. She's grown a lot in other ways as well, through dealing with Lugh and his world in a very different way than she had prior to his arrival. It's been interesting to see the changes in her and how she's gone from sometimes seeming like a bratty teenager who is mad about not getting their own way, to a mature adult who can deal with whatever's thrown at her. I've never been too sure what I think of Brian, but I've finally decided I like him, mostly. I love Lugh, like always, and Dominic and Adam add to the great secondary cast. What surprised me here was the new side of Raphael we saw. I don't want to give any outcomes away, but I will say my opinion of him drastically changed through this book. And I had a similar, if not as deep, opinion change about Morgan's brother too at the end.

Aside from the characters, this book was well plotted. It moved along at a really good pace and kept me pretty well hooked. There were several twists coming that I didn't see, and one point where my denial about what could happen was nearly as deep as Morgan's. The various threads of the previous books come together in this and result in a intense finish. I like that just about everything got tied up, but not too tightly, so you can imagine a future story with these characters past what we've seen.

As well as the main plots, the subplots, Saul and Raphael and Dominic with his new business amongst others, were all woven in well, adding more depth to the story, without wasting pages or taking away from the main story. And despite all the problems and trouble the team face, there are some very funny moments as well, which I liked. I wish there was going to be more books in this series, but at least it got a decent ending. I'll take that over a series run in to the ground any day! And I believe there will be a short story in Morgan's world at some point too, so I'll look forward to that! For sure a series that's ended on a high and one I'd really recommend.

Rating: 9/10

Friday, 19 March 2010

Fallen by Lauren Kate

17 year old Luce has just arrived at Sword and Cross, a reform school for troubled teens. She's shut away from her family and friends, from her normal life after one tragic event months ago left her with a burden she can hardly bare.

Once there she meets two boys. Cam, who's friendly and welcoming, and Daniel, who constantly pushes her away. But it's Daniel, Luce can't stop thinking about. And she can't shake the feeling that she's met him before. Before long things become tangled, her affections for both guys making things hard for her at Sword and Cross. She arrived determined to keep her burden to herself, but soon she realises that everyone has secret burdens to share. Some far bigger than her own.

Before reading this book, I'd heard good and bad things about it, but fallen angels and forbidden love, how could I not try it? Honestly, I mostly wish I hadn't bothered. The prologue captures interest well, made me think I was in for a decent story, sadly I was quickly proven wrong. The first half is basically all the same things, over and over. Luce unhappy, wanting Daniel, Daniel pushing her away, liking Cam, Cam liking her, seeing 'shadows' that scare her, have scared her, her whole life. It was a continuous loop. Very slow and pretty dull.

Luce was pretty wrapped up in Daniel and didn't seem to fussed about anything else. Instead of questioning his behaviour or ignoring him, she just mooned after him. Very Twilight. You keep being told about the shadows bothering her, but it's all the same thing through the first half, constantly mentioning the places they're worst, that they do this or that but not the other. Likewise, Luce's secret, the reason she's there, it kept being brought up, but never with more detail than before, never in a different way, always with the same background.

Around halfway, things did begin to pick up. More started happening and while Luce's character never stopped being the flat, simpering girl she is, there was at least a little more plot. Around the three quarters mark, things picked up further and it actually became a semi-decent read. Luce still annoyed me, but there was enough going on that I could ignore it for a bit.

The ending could have been worse, but it was a bit too over dramatic in an annoying way. The epilogue though, now that I could do with more of. Unlike the rest of the book, the epilogue is from Daniels POV (though still told in third person, like the rest of the book) and it held far more interest. There was interaction between him and another character, one I won't name for spoiler reasons, that was...interesting. A plot twist with unknown consequences that was much more interesting than Luce and Daniel's tormented love story.

Overall, this book could have really done with at least a hundred pages from the first half being cut. Would have stopped it dragging quite so much. Even so, I don't think I'd have been very impressed. Fans of Twilight will probably enjoy this, it's got the same obsessive love story with some paranormal thrown in for good measure. If however, like me, you prefer your protagonists thinking about more than just A Guy, then chances are, this isn't for you. This book unfortunately probably lends to the theory that all young adult books feature weak, love sick girls. Not something I really think should be promoted quite so highly as it is. Some recs if you're looking for more from a book: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead and Strange Angels by Lili St Crow.

Will I be picking up the second book, Torment, in the Fall? Very unlikely. 3/10 [1 mark simply for the stunning cover, which I adore.]

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead

SPOILER WARNING! Some spoilers for previous books. Read at your own risk.

"Georgina Kincaid has formidable powers. Immortality, seduction, shape-shifting - child's play to a succubus like her.

Helping to plan her ex boyfriend's wedding is a different story. Georgina isn't sure which is worse - that he's marrying another woman or that she's having to run around trying on bridesmaid dresses. Still, there are distractions. There's a new succubus in town who seems intent on corrupting Georgina's soon to-be-wed ex.

But the real danger lies in the mysterious force that's taken to visiting Georgina's thoughts. Soon she's going to discover who she can trust, who she can't - and that there are far worse places than Hell in which to spend eternity..."

Succubus Shadows is the fifth book in the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead, who also writes my favourite series, Vampire Academy, and another great adult UF series, Dark Swan. I loved the first three books in this series, but the previous one, Succubus Heat, just felt a little 'off' to me. More of a filler book setting up for the rest of the series. So while I was looking forward to this book, I wasn't desperate for it and I was cautious reading it, hoping it would feel more like the brilliance of the first three. I shouldn't have worried. It was. I completely loved this book!

Georgina isn't too happy. She's having to put up with a roommate she'd rather not have (who refuses to pay rent or do any housekeeping or anything on top of wanting her dead), she's having to try on bridesmaid dresses, help her best friend (who's marrying her ex) find the perfect wedding dress and there is a new succubus around preying on said ex. Oh, and some strange siren call keeps plaguing Georgina in a deadly way. Immortal intrigue of the best kind.

There are a lot of different plots all brought together within this book. Threads left over from I think every book all twisted up together. But it's carefully done, balancing the immortal problems with the more 'mundane' ones so that they all get attention, but without jumping around too much or dragging the story down at all. And despite the rough time Georgina is having, there is still a touch of humor with a few particularly well placed lines and a great sub-plot involving Cody, one of Georgina's vampire friends.

We discover a fair bit more of Georgina's past in this book too. Some of the things she's done before that she regrets, and some reason and understanding of why she is how she is. I couldn't help but feel for Georgina as she went through the things she did in this book. But we also get a much better look at Jerome and Carter, and their motives, in this book which I also found fascinating. They're pretty aloof characters normally, and we don't see much of the real 'them' but we see some of it here which I really liked.

The ending was heart wrenching in places and so sweet in others with a fair bit of shock thrown in. Right up to the final twist I didn't see coming that left me desperate for the next book. There is nothing in this book I didn't enjoy! It's a very well crafted story that was very, very hard to put down. 10/10

Cover Jealousy?

Not this time.

There are many book covers I adore. There are many book covers that I adore the US version/dislike the UK version of and vise versa. This time, I had high expectations for the cover for Lili St. Crow's third Strange Angels book, Jealousy because the first first two I love. They're dramatic and Dru is exactly how I picture her from the descriptions inside. So I've been looking forward to the cover for Jealousy to be revealed for a while. With a title like that and how the series is hotting up, and two great preceding covers, how could this one go wrong, right? Well, it did. At least in my opinion. Chances are if you're a fan of the series and follow Lili anywhere you've already seen this but I'm posting it here cause anyway cause I want to comment on it.
I love the purple smoke color of this one, but other than totally falls flat for me. The guy, who can't be Graves cause Graves has Asian blood in him, isn't close to hot enough for the super sexy Christophe (though if I had my way, he'd be out of the picture, Graves is far hotter ;)). And the's very plain. The Betrayals cover (book 2) features Dru front and center with both guys in the distance behind her. Why couldn't they bring them both forward, so the was stood between them, them both looking possessive or something? Would have been better in my opinion.


Apologies for that, but it had to be said. It's the second cover to disappoint lately, the UK version of Magic Bites being the first. Good thing? Content inside will almost certainly make me not care in the slightest. Far better a bad cover on a great book that vise versa. And I'm still desperate to read it even with the not so good cover!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Last Sacrifice

Richelle Mead has been teasing her readers for a week now about big news coming. Today that news is live and it's the title for the 6th and final Vampire Academy book: Last Sacrifice.

The word 'yikes' springs to mind! I have a feeling it doesn't bode well for one, or several, of our beloved characters! The post also confirmed that the release date is set for 14th December 2010, so after Spirit Bound we will have just 7 months to wait for the end. Still a long wait, one that may kill me, but it's far better than having to wait a year for it! I can not wait to find out what happens!

Richelle also announced her US Spirit Bound tour dates, which may be of interest to others, you'll find them here:

So, Last Sacrifice. Who's it going to be? Opinions? Ideas? Comments? Go see my new Richelle Mead Fan Forum and speculate! lol

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Lack of New Reviews

Just a quick post to apologise for the lack of reviews right now. Have been drugged up to my eyeballs with painkillers since Sunday lunchtime because of a flair up of a old back injury. Being this drugged up means no reading, which means no reviews. And while I'm hoping I can come off the heavy duty stuff tomorrow*, it'll probably still be a few days before I can actually finish another book and write a cohearant review.

'Tis really annoying me how much this back pain is screwing with my reading plans for this month. Also, I'm missing being lost in other worlds :( Thanks to my dad though it's not been totally hellish, he's 'leant' (I stole) his 'The Unit' dvds and have been watching them pretty much non stop. I finished season 3 today (started s1 last Fri evening) and he then ordered me the final season, which will arrive tomorrow. If you've not seen it, it's a really, really great show!! Now I can't hold myself upright any longer cause it's too painful, so I'm off.

*have been saying 'should be off the heavy stuff tomorrow' since Sunday...

Richelle Mead Fan Forum

After a joking comment between me and another member of Rachel Vincent's Pride forum, we created the Richelle Mead Fan Forum. A place to go discuss any of her books with other fans. Or you can just go and fill the 'Other Authors' boards up with chat about other authors :) We'd love people to check it out, sign up and post stuff! (relevant stuff please ;) )

Any feedback would also be welcome :)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

I can't decide...

...what I think of the UK cover for the first Kate Daniels book, that has just gone up on amazon. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews is one of my two most favourite series ever and since it was announced months ago that they were being released in the UK as well, I've been looking forward to seeing what they do with the covers. This is the answer for book 1, Magic Bites:Quite seriously, I just woke up 10mins ago, so I'm not all that awake and will no doubt have more opinion on it when I am awake. I like Curran (the lion for those who don't read the series - and if you don't, do it's awesome), but I'm not convinced about 'Kate'. She doesn't look ready to use that sword to me, simply that she's holding it trying to look tough. Which is what she is doing... I do like the font for the title though! Curious to see how the Magic Burns, Strikes and Bleeds covers come out now. Anyone else have an opinion? Oh and for comparison (if you're interested) this is the US cover for it:

I prefer Kate on this cover, she looks more like how I see Kate in the books. And I do prefer seeing an actual lion as Curran. But the UK version of Curran is pretty cool too. And we get a cooler title. Not sure which I like best now either.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

**SPOILER WARNING.** Contains some spoilers from first book, The Hunger Games. Would advise skipping this review if you've yet to read it!

"After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless Katniss and Peeta can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying."

Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy and picks up a few months after book one. Katniss' life has changed a lot since she and Peeta were declared victors of the Hunger Games and arrived back in their home, District 12. She, and her mother and sister, now live in victors village and don't lack for food, clothing or money. But Katniss' problems are far from over. She doesn't like being in the spotlight, she doesn't like seeing her friends suffer still and she has a hard time knowing how to deal with Peeta and her best friend Gale, both of whom love her. But when they discover the unrest breaking out in the Districts, fueled by Katniss' 'trick' at the end of the previous Games, life becomes far, far more dangerous for them all and Katniss is forced to make some tough decisions.

Book one, The Hunger Games, completely blew me away. I wasn't sure if Catching Fire could really live up to the tension and emotion of it, but it did. I was grabbed just as quickly and just as hard by Katniss' continued troubles. All the characters grew on me even more through this book as things heated up and more was discovered about them all. I couldn't help feeling for Katniss as she tries to protect those closest to her, but not really knowing how to.

The tension builds from the start and there are some really good twists that caught me out. I could guess towards the end about something that was going to happen, and I willed Katniss to see it, but my figuring it out first didn't spoil it for me any. I couldn't help tears a couple of times when loved characters were hurt and I felt Katniss' fear and pain clear as day. As well as being a well told story of it's own though, this book is the set up for the final showdown in book 3, Mockingjay, and it does a great job of it. The ending was painful and brilliant leaving me desperate for more!

I can see why this series has become such a hit, and it's very well deserved. Collins does a great job of making the scene very real, and delivering the blows unflinchingly. The tension that begins on page one, doesn't end until the final words and all the while I just keep wishing things weren't quite so hard for Katniss. But I know it wouldn't be nearly the story it is if they weren't. There is a little more romance in this book than the previous one, but while I feel it adds to the story, it would also be just fine without it. I personally am rooting for a specific guy, because I am me and I must, but I find I'm not all that fussed about Katniss' romantic life. I'm far more interested in her survival and the rest of her story there is to be told. I am now desperate to read Mockingjay and it is easily in the top three of books I most want in 2010! 10/10

Monday, 1 March 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

"Winning will make you famous, losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature."

Originally I was hesitant to pick this book up, despite it getting good reviews, it didn't sound like something I'd enjoy too much. But my friend pushed me lots to get it, so I of course did. And I'm really, really glad she pushed! This book is fantastic.

It only took a few pages of Katniss' voice to hook me in to her world, one where survival is tough, starvation a real possibility and where she, at 16, is (and has been) taking care of her mom and 12 year old sister for years. She's a hunter, taking out rabbits and other game to either feed her family or trade for other necessities.

The Hunger Games start with the reaping. Everyone must be present in town as the 'tributes' from each of the 12 districts, one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18, are picked. This year, Prim's name is called and Katniss instantly steps up, volunteering herself in her sisters place. The boy called from District 12 this year is Peeta. He's not dirt poor like Katniss, struggling for every mouthful, but that doesn't mean life has been easy for him. They travel by train to the Capitol, the ruling city who keep the Districts in strict order. There they are given all the food they can eat, and more, whist going through interviews and training for the Games.

In the Capitol the games are a big event, one where a lot of money is bet and crowds love to back the tributes. But the arena is far from a game. Once inside it, it's every person for themselves. The last person standing is the victor.

The tension built from page one and never let up. You really feel for Katniss and the position she's in, and then as she fights for her life in the Games. Nothing is easy for her, but she's tough and smart, willing to do everything she can. She's not stupid, she knows how small her chances are but if she's going to go out, she's going to go out fighting.

I think it's the way this book is written that really sucks me in. You get a real sense very early on about how tough life is for Katniss, how bad it is in the games, why her friend Gale is always so angry at the Capitol where no one lacks for anything. I love Katniss' ability to adapt and think on her feet, her stubbornness and how she cares when really she wants to shut everyone out so she can do what she must. The world Katniss lives in is well described making it easy to visualise exactly what's going on and you can't help hoping that she'll just catch a break. Collins doesn't flinch away from the dark sides of Katniss' life or of the death that must be dealt in the Games either, making it all that more real.

A truly fantastic book that had me hanging on every word and desperate for more when I was done. I had a really, really hard time putting it down and I couldn't wait to read book 2, Catching Fire, which is equally as good. A must read that I'd highly recommend to both adults and teens. 10/10