Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Some Very Cool News!!

Richelle Mead, author of my favourite YA series, and two amazing adult series has awesome and much wanted news on her blog today.

Vampire Academy has been optioned for adaption to the big screen!! This does not mean it will become a film, or if it does, that it'll happen any time soon, but it does mean a production company has the rights to it now. Which is a step in the right direction. I am thrilled about this news because I think it really, really deserves the recognition that comes with being a film as well. So I have my fingers crossed that it actually does get made, at some point in the not too distant future. If you've not tried the Vampire Academy series yet, then you are missing out on an immense series. It's gritty, dark and with just the right touch of wit. It is a YA series, but one that should appeal just as much to adults as well. No idiot whiny girls here, this one totally kicks a$$! Check out Richelle's site: http://www.richellemead.com for more details and excepts from the series, and her others.

Also, the final Georgina Kincaid book has a title now: Succubus Revealed! Which I love. Is a great title given how much needs explaining... And a release date: September 2011. A very long wait, but I have no doubt it'll be worth it.

Full details of the news, along with release dates for the next several of Richelle's books are in her post here.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

13 To Life by Shannon Delany

"Everything about Jessie Gillmansen's life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wanted if to avoid more change. But while showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she's about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent - he's a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie's small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can't avoid."

This book was pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago by Jess, who mentioned hearing about it at the Romantic Times convention this year and was really looking forward to it. So I checked it out and thought that it sounded interesting so I ordered it. I didn't expect to adore it though, and I completely do. The book opens with Jessie grooming one of her horses, Rio. I'm more horse obsessed than book obsessed, which is saying something, so right there Jessie had mega points in my book. The mystery with the werewolves starts up moments later, though Jessie doesn't understand it for a long while. It's not a particularly fast paced book, but it doesn't hang around. Jessie was easy to like, her voice easy to get in to and she's a complex character. She's hurting for her mom, crushing big time on football star Derek and helping her best friend Sarah, who has been through a really rough time as well. Then in steps Pietr. Hot new Russian guy who she can't figure out. Every girl in school is drooling over him, especially Sarah, but not Jessie. She's annoyed by him more than anything. He aggravates her easily and seems to enjoy pushing her. He's brutally honest and Jessie respects that, even if she doesn't always like it.

Jessie has a lot of spark to her, and she doesn't back down easily. She's smart and she knows what she wants, apart from when it comes to boys. Derek, after years of crushing on him, seems to finally be noticing her too. But can she really trust in his attention? The more she gets to know Pietr, the more she finds herself falling for him too. But Sarah wants him and Sarah being happy is more important to her, so she can't have him. But there is more to this book than romance. It's also about friendship, about Jessie dealing with her mom's death and growing up. And about a year ago, there was an incident in a town not too far from theirs. A wolf attack that left someone dead. Jessie is an editor on her high school paper and it's something she'd love to know more about. She looks in to it a little in some of her free time. And when she faces a giant wolf on her horse farm, she's even more curious.

I was hooked on this book from the start. It's sweet, intense, sad, thoughtful, mysterious and there are some very funny moments as well. One of my favourites being Pietr being faced with a kitten who suddenly faced with a werewolf in human form, and goes...a little bit crazy trying to hurt him. Jessie has a second best friend, Amy, who I love. She's doesn't mind telling it as it is, and she's wiling to support Jessie, and kick her when she's being an idiot, as any true best friend should. She's a fantastic side character and the friendship she and Jessie share is very real and really adds to both their characters, as well as just being a great addition to the book.

All the characters are really well drawn, and so is the location adding to the overall tone. It's well written, carefully revealing secrets from everyone as the book unfolds. There were some things I thought I had figured out, then when it got there, things turned out to be completely different. Or at least, not like they'd first appeared. Great characters, great plot, carefully written and very, very enjoyable. The ending was fantastic but left me hanging. I very much want the second book to find out what happens next for Jessie and Pietr. There were some big moments at the end that are obviously going to leave lasting impacts on them both, and those around them by default. There is a lot still unknown and a lot that still needs explaining, but I'm really happy with what we do know at present and that we don't know everything, that Jessie and Pietr don't know everything. Far more interesting learning along side them, watching them screw up, learn, grow. Life. I can't wait for the next book in Feb 2011, Secrets and Shadows. I loved everything about this book and would highly recommend it!! 9/10

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

"Sixteen-year-old Nick knows that demons are real. Magicians call up demons in exchange for their power. The demons can appear in any shape, show you marvels, promise you anything - until you invite them in and receive their mark. What happens next? First you get possessed. Then you die.

Nick's been on the run his whole life, ever since his mother stole a charm from the most feared magician of them all, and the only person he trusts is his brother Alan. Alan's just been marked by a demon. Only Nick can save him, but to do so he must face the magicians - and kill them. The hunt is on, and Nick's going to discover things he never dreamed were out there."

This is the first book of a trilogy, and it's one I've heard a lot of for a while as being really good. But it was one of those ones I wasn't sure about trying, but figured I'd get to eventually. Then a friend of mine read it and said she thought it was really good so I pushed it up the list, expecting a good read. Sadly, it really wasn't.

The book was predictable from beginning to end. It took me maybe 2 chapters to figure out the 'big secret' that was going to be revealed near the end. It wasn't particularly badly written, but I didn't think much of the characters. They were all pretty flat and generic, nothing about them really standing out to me. The only times I felt there was real life between any of them, was when Nick was arguing with Mae, the girl both brothers fancy (which, really, did they both have to like her?). What I really didn't get, was how Nick didn't figure out something was 'off' so much sooner. It's not like there weren't neon signs along the way. Alan annoyed me a lot. He was ridiculously self sacrificing, too soft, too manipulative. Brother and sister Jamie and Mae weren't a whole lot better.

They went to Nick and Alan looking for help. Jamie had been marked by a demon and they wanted to know how to get rid of it. Nick grudgingly agreed to help only because Alan insisted, which he did mostly because he wanted a date with Mae. Jamie was almost constantly afraid of Nick, which given Nick's behaviour is not surprising, but it was tiring. Mae was constantly switching from snapping at Nick to trying to be kind and helpful to both brothers, whilst protecting her own. Nothing really wrong with her, but again I just didn't feel there was much to her, or any of them.

The book had it's slow moments where it switched to explaining things for a little while, which when I really wasn't enjoying the book too much, dragged. But there is a fair bit of action and it moves along fairly quickly for the most part. I didn't think much of the 'final showdown' because I thought all 4 main characters really weren't smart doing what they did, how they did.

I didn't hate the book or anything, and I did finish it without too much effort. But I was really left with an overall 'meh' sense about it. I didn't much of it at all, and I really doubt I'll be reading the rest of the trilogy. A shame, because I'd been hoping for more from this. But it just really wasn't my cup of tea. I can see why some people like it, but for me, I just could not like the characters enough to care about their reactions to the 'big reveal' at the end. That's what the pulling factor was meant to be, and it just wasn't there for me. Could have been worse, but it could have been so much better. 4/10

Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk

'"Using magic wasn't as easy as the actors made it look in the movies. Every time you use magic, it uses you back. Sure, you could magic yourself a photographic memory for that big test, for that big interview, for that big stock market job. And all it cost you was a nice case of liver failure. Or the memory of your lover's name."

Magic is Allison Beckstrom's blessing and curse. As a Hound, she uses her gifts to track down practitioners who abuse their power, and then stops them from inflicting harm on unsuspecting innocents. Unfortunately her spells have taken a toll on her, physically marking her and erasing her memories - including those of the man she supposedly loves.

But lost memories aren't the only things preying on Allie's thoughts. Her late father, the prominent businessman - and sorcerer - Daniel Beckstorm, has somehow channeled himself into her mind. With the help of the Authority, a secret organization of magic users, she hopes to gain better control over her own abilities - and find a was to deal with her father..."

This is the third book in the Allie Beckstrom series. I loved the first book, but wasn't so keen on the second one. But this one I loved again. It picks up exactly where book 2, Magic in the Blood, left off: Allie standing in her bathroom hearing her dead fathers voice in her head. Unpleasant. Unsurprisingly, her father, how to deal with him, what he's capable of play a sizable role in this book, but it's far from the only thing she's got to deal with. After the death of Pike, a Hound who was trying to take care of the rest of the Hounds in the city, Allie has stepped up to take his place. While also Hounding a case for the cursed Detective Stotts, meeting with Authority members for the first time, having her best friend Nola staying with her, getting to know Zayvion again, and, oh yeah, dealing with a stone gargoyle she accidentally brought to life. Somehow. Busy girl is Allie, it works for her.

The book is fast paced and there is a lot going on to keep track of, but somehow it all comes together rather than feeling like a lot of different and unnecessary threads there for no reason. Allie is tough as ever working through her issues, memory loss and all the new and ongoing threats she faces. She is constantly being surprised by how much more there is to magic than she, or the general public, knew. And Zayvion, the guy she doesn't remember falling in love with, knows far more than he's saying. I loved the expansion of the world in this one, discovering it alongside Allie, as well as learning more about the Hounds, seeing them work together, how Allie's trying to help them. I loved Davy when we met him in the previous book, and I liked him even more in this one. There is the introduction of a couple new people in this book who I really like as well, none more than Shamus, who is funny, smart and a trouble maker who knows it, and loves it. Seeing Zayvion deal with these new people brought more depth to his character as well. We've not learnt all that much about him before, but we know more now, and meeting his 'friends' was fun and shed yet more light. Allie continues to grow and deal with everything thrown at her, some things better than others, but I love her determination to keep going in the face of fear, to protect those she cares about and to simply keep herself alive.

Overall, this was probably my favourite of the series so far. It's fast and hectic, but works really well with some good character development and additions to the character list as well. I'm really enjoying the series on the whole, I love the world, the way magic works, it's limits, it's costs, how different people deal with those costs. And I also love how Allie's best friend is someone who doesn't use magic at all. It's kind of a nice break to have her around, because she doesn't take any nonsense, takes care of Allie and while she's fine with Allie's use of magic, she doesn't feel the need to use it herself. She's probably the most 'normal' character in the series and I love that, having that element in the books, showing that it's not all magic, somethings can be dealt with just fine without it. Really looking forward to reading the 4th book, Magic on the Storm, soon, seeing more of the Authority and basically more of everything! Great book and really hard to put down. 9/10

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Best of First Half of 2010

Can't quite believe we're almost half way through the year already, but we are. So far this year I've read 67 books and most of them have been great reads that I've thoroughly enjoyed. Narrowing the list down is very hard, but here are some of the very best I've read.

Best New YA Releases
1) Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy #5)
2) Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (sequel out 2011)
3) Glimmerglass by Jenna Black (Faeriewalker #1)
4) My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #3)
5) White Cat by Holly Black (Curse Workers #1)

Best New Adult Releases
1) Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #4)
2) Shift by Rachel Vincent (Shifters #5)
3) Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #5)
4) Soulless/Changeless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1 & 2)
5) Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead (Georgina Kincaid #5)

Best Books Regardless of Release Date (excluding those above)
1) The Hunger Games/Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games #1 & 2, YA dystopia)
2) Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles (sequel coming late 2010, YA contemporary)
3) Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2, PNR)
4) Betrayals by Lili St. Crow (Strange Angels #2, YA UF)
5) The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan (take your pick classing as YA or adult, fantasy)

7 Other Top Picks (ie the ones that tie with some above and deserve mention, in no order)
Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur (Riley Jenson #9, adult UF)
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (stand alone, YA UF)
Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray (historical YA fantasy)
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (Perfect Chemistry #1, YA contemporary)
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Powers #3, YA UF)
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (Inside Out #1, YA SF/dystopia)
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (sequel out 2011, YA UF)

So far, it's been an awesome year for books. The second half of 2010 shows just as much promise with many more titles I'm very excited for. I'll try and post a 'looking forward to' post about them in the next few days.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Shiny Stuff!

Two things I want to mention:
1) The first 6 and a bit chapters of Pray For Dawn by Jocelynn Drake (out June 29th June) are live via HarperCollins 'Browse Inside' feature. Can I just say? Ohmigosh. PfD is the 4th book in the Dark Days series and the first (and currently only planned) book from Danaus point of view instead of regular protagonist Mira. Is very cool to be getting a look inside the Hunters head, but within those first chapters (okay, 66 pages) I was having serious 'what the heck is going on?!' feelings. The good kind. It's setting up to be an awesome book! Can't wait to read the rest of it!!

2) Karen Mahoney has her first YA novel due out in Febuary next year in the US. After reading her short story in The Eternal Kiss (which was my favourite of the shorts in there, and it was a awesome anthology) I am very, very much looking forward to The Iron Witch. The Book Smugglers have the cover with the blurb and an exclusive except live here.
How beautiful is that cover?!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent

"When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies. And Kaylee is about to scream her head off...

Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.

Until something does.

Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their their friends - one of whom is already hooked.

And so is someone else..."

This is the third book in the Soul Screamers series and while I liked the first two, a lot, I didn't love them. No specific reason, they're well written, good well rounded characters, good plot, but just didn't fully grab me like some YA series can. But I still wanted this book a lot, especially after a few people said it was the best one yet. They weren't wrong. I adored this book!! I was hooked from the start and couldn't put it down. I had a lot of trouble getting a hold of a copy but once I had it, I read it in a day easily.

MSTKeep is darker than either of the books before it, Kaylee does a lot of growing up, loses a fair bit of the innocence and naivety that surrounded her, and it's not pretty. Which is probably why I love it so much. Life isn't easy, and growing up in particular is painful, ugly and unavoidable. Why shouldn't fictional characters have to deal with that too? The form it takes is more or less irrelevant for me, I just can't take fictional characters seriously if they're everything is easy for them. Kaylee has never had it easy, but the events of MSTKeep are much rougher on her. It picks up a month after the end of MSTSave, when Kaylee's grounding for passing in to the Netherworld has just ended. Her first night of freedom sees her at a party where she finds a friend with the scent of Demon Breath on his. Kaylee is shocked and scared. The forbidden Netherworld substance shouldn't be in the human world and certainly not being taken by high school jocks. But it is and she's determined to get to the bottom of it.

It's fast paced and had some great twists. I did guess one big thing before the book was out, but that was fine, it didn't stop it being a painful emotional ride that had me just about in tears at times. I felt so much for Kaylee as she tried to make sense out of what was going on and how to fix things. The Netherworld is dark and creepy as it should be, but I think I felt it more this time around. Nash and Tod are of course big parts of the story as well, and I love how the brothers react to each other, but also how they both play off Kaylee. Tod is one of my favourite side characters ever, for a grim reaper he's a lot of fun. He's dark and sarcastic, I love his friendship with Kaylee (and that it is a friendship, not a possible love interest) and I love seeing what he does for those he loves. Overall, a really great read, great character development and the ending was awesome, painful but awesome. I can't wait for book 4, My Soul To Steal!! 9/10

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Mockingjay Cover!

Mockingjay is the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is out August 24th and it is one of the books I want most this year. The first two books were awesome and I can not wait to see what happens in the end!! The UK cover has finally been released so if you've not yet seen it, here it is:
I love it. I've always prefered the UK ones over the US covers, but this is my favourite of them. Be really interested to hear what others think of it verses the US one below.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Changeless by Gail Carriger

"Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband - if she feels like it."

This is the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series from Gail Carriger. I loved the first book in this series and was really looking forward to it. I was not disappointed!! It picks up about three months after Alexia's wedding to Lord Conell Maccon, Alpha werewolf of the large Woolsey pack, and she's more or less adjusted to life in the pack. Until of course there are suddenly many more wolves to deal with, and camping on her front doorstep (very inconsiderate of them too!). But it can't hold Alexia's attention for long. For some reason all supernaturals in a certain area of London have found themselves decidedly mortal again. Very bad news for the ghosts, because it meant sudden exorcism. *poof* no more ghosts in that area. Alexia's new position as muhjah for the Queen means she has good reason to investigate it. Her investigations lead her to Scotland, where her husband also disappeared, without a word to her, to. But being Alexia, a preternatural generally feared by the supernaturals, it is not long before things get even more complicated and she finds herself the specific target of some serious unpleasantness, both with the company she finds herself in and the acts being done against her.

This book was as fast and fun as book one. I am completely in love with the spunk and attitude from Alexia in the Victorian London setting. Add in the Scot's with their slightly less than respecful attitude to the English with Miss Hisselpenny's crazy hats, Alexia's simpering half-sister Felicity and Lord Maccon's claviger, thespian Tunstell (who may or may not be in love with Miss Hisselpenny) and you get serious entertainment as well as drama. I love it!!

There is depth and intrigue to just about every aspect of this story with some surprising twists along the way. We meet some very entertaining new side characters, as well as getting to know those we've already met better. I love the way Alexia and Conell play off each other. They're both strong willed characters who like having their own way and they seem to spend as much time yelling at each other as not. In a loving way, mostly.

I got warned by a couple of people on Jocelynn Drake's forum, very strongly, not to read Changeless before Blameless is out in September. I didn't get the advice until I was halfway through, which was kind of a shame because I should have taken it. The ending is shocking, totally didn't see it coming (well, one part of it I did, the other I didn't) and oh! I so need the next book right now!! I won't say the emotions involved because I don't want to ruin it in anyway for anyone. It was fantastically done and it leaves for a lot to be sorted in the next book. Left me hanging completely. I both love and loathe when that happens. I always hate the wait, I'm a very impatient person, but at the same time, I love it because it adds to the suspense and fun. If 'fun' is the right word... Still, this was a fantastic follow up to Soulless with drama and humor blended together seamlessly. This is a series that has easily jumped to my favourites list. Bring on Blameless!!

Rating: 9/10

Lover Awakened by J. R. Ward

"In the shadows of the night in New York there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Of these, Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion - until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist's thirst for vengeance against Bella's tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her . . ."

This is the third Black Dagger Brotherhood book and follows Zsadist's story, which really started in the previous book, Lover Eternal. There he met Bella for the first time, and then she was kidnapped by the lessers. Zsadist shocked his brothers with his reaction to her abduction, because he's known as a killer. Someone who doesn't treat women with anything more than contempt. No one trusts him with Bella, but his obvious drive to save her can't be ignored. It's Bella who needs to stay strong to rescue Zsadist though.

I loved this book. It was gripping, intense and painful reading. Particularly the flashback scenes to how Z was tortured a couple of centuries ago, and how he's still torturing himself now. Pain is what he knows and understands. He struggles to accept that it's at all possible for Bella, for any female, to love him. Some of Z's thoughts on himself are heartbreaking to read. I loved how he and Bella grew and dealt with each other over the course of the book.

Aside from Bella and Z, we learn a lot more about Phury (Z's twin) and John Matthew throughout the book as well. John is easily my favourite side character in this book. I liked finding out more about Phury because we didn't know too much about him before hand, but I'm far more curious about John. I like that he's got his own background we're just seeing glimpses of, rather than just being a flat padding character. Butch's continued involvement in the brotherhood, as the only human to be so, also gets a fair bit of page time, which a very surprising twist towards the end.

There is heartbreak in more than one way in this book. And a fair few tears were shed on my part through it. But while the ending was fantastic, I couldn't help feeling just a little cheated over something. We got a fair bit from John through this book, but when a couple of big incidents happened, John's reaction to them (which should have been big) was mostly ignored. Which I thought was a real shame and after everything we got of him before that moment, I felt a little cheated by it. I also felt that there should have been more on a certain other brother with regard to the events that happened. I'm not naming names for spoilers sake, but this particular brother was hugely involved and his reaction was (rightly) massive, but then...nothing. 2 months get skipped over for the final chapter and in the last chapter I really wish there had been mention of what was going on with him, but it was very strictly a Zsadist/Bella chapter. Which makes sense as it was their book, but still, I was disappointed by that.

Still, it is a great book and that is only a small complaint. It's fast paced and intense. Like the two books before it, I had a really tough job putting it down. I am still fascinated by all of the brothers and their lives and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Lover Revealed, soon! 8/10

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk

'"Magic stirred in me, offering whatever I wanted. With little more than a thought and a gesture or two, I could make magic do anything. So long as I was willing to pay the price..."

Allison Beckstrom knows better than most that when magic's involved, nothing is free. She's had to pay its price of migraines and forgetfulness while working as a Hound, tracing illegal spells back to their casters. And even though magic has stolen her recent memory--including her history with the man she supposedly fell in love with--Allie isn't about to give up on Hounding or the city she cares about.

Then the police's magic enforcement division asks her to consult on what seems to be a straightforward missing-persons case. What begins as a way to make rent leads Allie into grave danger when the trail she's following draws her into the dark underworld of criminals, ghosts, and blood magic. There, Allie discovers it will take more than just magic to survive...."

Magic in the Blood is the second Allie Beckstrom book from Devon Monk. It picks up a couple of weeks after the events of book 1, Magic to the Bone, which left Allie missing several weeks worth of memories, her father dead, her body marked by a massive amount of magic and her not knowing the man she apparently fell in love with, the very mysterious Zayvion Jones. But despite being scared by the amount of memories missing, Allie isn't about to give up magic or Hounding. She's working this new case for the police, for a supposedly cursed cop, but she's suddenly started seeing ghosts as well. And they're demanding as much of her attention as the case is, without being polite about it.

I really loved the first book in this series and was really looking forward to this second installment. But I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It's not bad, by any stretch, and not even a let down exactly. It's got a good plot and doesn't ignore things from the previous book, but in many ways it felt more like a set up for the next book or two more than anything else. It is still a good read, but I wasn't as gripped by it as book one. I'd been warned that the ending was a bit of a cliff hanger, but I saw the ending coming from a chapter or two previous so it didn't have the impact I think was intended. It did leave me hanging, but not so badly that I needed to pick up the next book instantly. I did like this book, I just preferred book 1.

There are some great moments in this book and we get to see more of what Hounding work, and it's cost, is like. We get to know Allie a little better, and meet some very interesting new side characters as well, who I'm hoping we see more of in the next book. One of my favourite things about this series, is the cost of using magic. How it works and works the user. Nothing like that should come without a cost, and it has a huge cost in this series. Seeing the different ways people deal with that cost was intriguing. The build up to the end was good, and it got pretty tense, but I think there was more power in the ending of book one. Still a good read, but this isn't going to be my favourite of the series. Hoping for a little more from the next book. 7/10

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

My Soul To Keep Trailer

My Soul to Keep is the 3rd book in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, and it's been out for a week now. I liked the first two books in the series, but this is the one I've been most excited about. For some stupid reason, Book Depository are letting me down with this new US release, and aren't stocking it, so I'm (impatiently) waiting for my copy from the US to arrive. I'm hoping it'll be here on Thursday or Friday. In the mean time, check this out because I actually really like this trailer. Not always a big fan of book trailers, but this one I really like.

And if you want more info of Rachel's Soul Screamers books (or her adult Shifters series), check out her website here.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

"At the age of four, Bryn watched a rogue werewolf brutally murder her parents. Alone in the world, she was rescued and taken in by the mysterious Callum, the alpha of his werewolf pack. Now fifteen, Bryn's been raised as a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule (mostly). Little fazes her.

But the pack's been keeping a secret, and when Bryn goes exploring against Callum's direct orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen Were locked in a cage. Terrifying memories of the attack on her mom and dad come flooding back. Bryn needs answers, and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, all allegiances to the pack no longer matter. It's Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences."

Raised by Wolves was just released today in the US, but Book Depository had imported copies in early, so I actually had this a little early and read it yesterday. I'd seen it around on Amazon a while ago, but being a hardback release from an author I'd not read before I pretty much ignored it, until several author I follow online started saying that it was fantastic. From the blurb I thought it sounded okay, but I was expecting a bit of a cliched girl meets boy, they instantly fall in love and fight the establishment and save the world type thing. Happily, I was wrong. I so did not expect this book to be what it was, and I loved it.

Bryn is smart, tough and a rebel. It took all of about a page for me to really like her and think she was a character I'd get on really well with. She's grown up human in a wolf world, and as such is in many ways a wolf who can't shift. She plays by their rules (well, maybe not exactly by the rules she's meant to, but she does play by wolf rules more than human ones), she lives how they live and she's learnt to survive in their world despite the violent way she came in to it. Meeting Chase, a teen wolf the alpha, Callum, has tried to keep hidden from her, changes things though. Once she meets him, all bets are off.

I was hooked on this story very quickly and ended up reading it in a day. I'm not sure I can even explain why the book is as compelling as it is. I may, like Bryn, rebel at some of the basics in the werewolf world (like, say, how females are to be protected at all costs. Over protectiveness is not so attractive), but there is no denying the world is well crafted and thought out. The way different packs interact and work with each other (or don't, as the case may be). How they deal with problems within the pack, how they treat outsiders, and how they treat their own. Bryn is an outsider as much as she's not. She's marked by Callum, making her pack. She shares in the same mental pack bonds everyone else in the pack has, but she doesn't shift. She's one of only two humans who do. The other is Ali. Ali is in effect Bryn's mom. She was a 21 year old human who came to the pack looking for her sister right around when Bryn was orphaned, so Callum marked her as well and gave her 4 year old Bryn to take care of. It makes for some interesting battles throughout the book because Ali isn't tied to the pack as a wolf either.

I couldn't ever really see what was going to happen next for Bryn, and I couldn't put it down until I found out. The way the story unfolds and grows with Bryn and Chase is sweet and fun and intense. There are a couple of great side characters in Bryn's best friends, Lake and Devon, and Ali as well. There are a couple others I loved, but for spoilers sake I'm not going to mention them. Bryn in particular though, is a good, well rounded character and I found her really easy to relate to. My favourite thing about this book? It's not about Bryn and Chase, it's about Bryn. It's her story, her growing up and the pains it causes. Something I think any teen or adult can relate to.

I pretty much just loved every aspect of this book, and I can't fully understand why. I'm a wolf girl more than any other paranormal creature, but I often read werewolf books and find I don't like how they're depicted, the lore involved. But here, I couldn't fault it. It was something I could get and made sense, and just...worked. The pack bonds, the hierarchy, the knacks some had and some didn't. Add in a great story with great characters and I just fell for it. There a couple big surprises throughout the book, but it all wrapped up really nicely at the end. But even so, I was left wanting more. More of Bryn, more of Chase and more of their world, so I was very, very happy to discover there will at least be a sequel next summer titled, Trial by Fire. Can't wait!! In the mean time, if you like YA UF books, this is a must read!

Rating: 10/10

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

"In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood . . .

Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover - for inside him burns a ferocious curse. Possessed by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.

May Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and is reliant on Rhage's protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. But when Rhage's intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves . . ."

This is the second book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I loved it from beginning to end. Rhage lives with a beast inside of him, constantly afraid it's going to come out and hurt those he loves. He has ways of keeping it as chained in as possible, by fighting daily and, well, a very active sex life. He's nicknamed 'Hollywood' because of his stunning good looks and his ability to have any girl he wants. But for him it's a hollow act, something he does to keep his beast satisfied as best he can, and something he wishes he could do without. Mary is a human with no idea her best friend and next door neighbor, Bella, is a vampire. She knows what it's like to fight something inside you have no control over though, she's fought leukemia and won, but now it looks like it's back. Their meeting changes things, for both of them, in a big way. But it isn't exactly all for the better.

This whole book was a rollercoaster of intense emotion. It had me laughing and crying. The ending is immense and I was in floods of tears a couple chapters from the end, feeling the pain both Rhage and Mary did as if it was real. There is, of course, some intrusion of lessers in this book, but I found myself hurrying through those parts to get back to Rhage and Mary. I love them both individually, and together. Like Wrath and Beth in book one, Dark Lover, they're very well rounded, real characters who you can't help feeling for. We also see a fair bit more of Zsadist in this book. The next one, Lover Awakened, is his story but it starts here in this one and I'm already falling for him.

I love the detail given not only to the main characters, but to the secondary ones as well, and the world around them, how it works from an inside and outside view. It's something that helps stop the books from simply being a romance, and making them books that you can really get your teeth in to. And while there are certain things that are kind of predictable, there is a lot that happens that you don't see coming. For me, this book was just about impossible to put down. I got so wrapped up in Rhage and Mary that I seriously lost track of time. It's a fantastically woven story that leaves a lot open whilst giving greater depth to the characters we've already met, and introducing a few important new ones. Z's story is only just beginning in this one, and I am hungry to get in to the rest of it as soon as I can. But I don't need to read the rest of the series to know this one, Lover Eternal, is going to be a lasting favourite. Rhage and Mary's story is just too intense, too powerful and it's one that I know I'll be rereading a fair bit!! 10/10

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

"In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There also exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Among them, none relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood...

The only pure-bred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed - orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate - Wrath much usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead . . .

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn't there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both . . ."

I tend not to read much paranormal romance preferring urban fantasy with romantic subplots, for the same reason I rarely read any romance books, I get bored with them. I prefer more action, though I'm always happier when there is a romantic plot as well, just not when it's the whole plot. But the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was recommended to me by a good friend so I decided to give it a shot. Really, really glad I did!! I completely fell in love with J.R. Ward's world and her Brothers. The books are written in third person, from several different points of view. It flows well and I like getting to see the extensive world created here, through different angles. From inside the Brotherhood, from the human POV, and from the lessers. It also means we get to see the characters through different eyes, which helps give them more depth by showing how they're perceived by different people. And I also really like the vampire lore that exists here.

The Brothers themselves are intense. They're all unique, with different skills and different issues, but all warriors who are completely loyal to each other, and to their duty, keeping the rest of the vampire population alive by destroying the lessers, who are soulless immortal killers. Although we see more of Wrath than any of the other Brothers in this book (a given as it's Wrath's story) we see hints as to the backgrounds and future stories for the rest of them. Which made me fall in love with pretty much all of them over the course of the book!

Wrath's story is intense and violent. He's a warrior through and through and not known as the nicest guy around. But at the same time, it's touching and sweet and I fell in love with him very quickly. Beth is smart and tough, and while there is the 'girl meets bad boy and instantly falls in love' aspect, it isn't nearly that straight forward. There is a lot more to the plot and the characters, both main and side, are very 3D making even the predictable parts that much more enjoyable because you care about the characters, they're very much alive. The ongoing battle between the Brothers and the lessers is another aspect to the story, adding to it but not taking center stage. Its not without it's place, it just doesn't story the love story being the focus. But the main story is the Brothers. Their pasts, their future, and what they're fighting for. But as it turns out, the lessers aren't the only danger they face.

I love Wrath and Beth's story, they play off each other so well. It's a fantastically written and gripping book which I had a very, very hard time putting down. It left me wanting a whole lot more of the Brothers and I can't wait to read the rest of the series that's currently out!! 9/10

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

'"Using magic meant it used you back. Forget the fairy tale hocus-pocus, wave a wand and bling-o sparkles and pixie dust crap.

Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got."

Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user--maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they offload the cost onto an innocent. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster--and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.

Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune--and the many strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magical offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

Now, Allie's out for the truth--and the forces she finds herself calling on will overturn everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine...and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control."

This is the first book in the Allie Beckstrom series, a series I was reluctant to try. I prefer shifters to magic, as a general rule, and I wasn't sure I liked the sound of this series. But a couple book buddies said it was really good, and they're rarely wrong (okay, differing opinions doesn't make them wrong as such, but, ya know... ;-) ). I'm glad to say they were right this time as well. I got hooked on this book really quickly and had a hard time putting it down.

Allie is the daughter of one of the most powerful magic users around, so she's pretty well known. But she hasn't seen her father in seven years, and lives on very little working as a Hound in order to pay rent and keep food on the table. When she finds a young kid who's dying of an illegal magic offload with her father signature, she storms straight to him to deal with it. She's furious and determined to see him pay for his crimes. But within a very short space of time things take a stranger, darker turn in her latest case. Nothing is quite as it seems and Allie suddenly finds herself fleeing to try and protect herself. Allie is a loner with just one friend, a woman who lives 300 miles away on a farm that doesn't use magic. She doesn't trust easily and so she's naturally cautious, if attracted, to the very mysterious Zayvion Jones who is around when she begins the Hounding case on the boy and always seems to be around when weird stuff keeps happening.

I actually really love the world created here. The way magic has (very serious) limits and consequences for it's use. And Allie is no exception to those rules. She spends a lot of the book dealing with the fallout of using magic and she keeps a little book on her at all times with vital details of her day to day life so that if she loses the memories of a case she's working on or something, she has at least got a way to fill in a few little gaps. The memory loss is an interesting twist, because there are times when she loses part of her memory of events the readers have seen so she can react to things and we think 'seen/know that, you've already done this once'. But that's not to say it gets repetitive, because it doesn't. It's just something that does happen occasionally. It's something Allie has to deal with, so we get to deal with it along the way as well.

The plot moves along quickly with some good twists and turns. There is one moment in particular near the end which seriously shocked me. Like, enough that I couldn't keep reading for a few moments. That doesn't happen very often. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but I didn't, and it had a pretty huge impact. I really liked the characters too. Allie is very easy to get on with, and I really felt for her as she tried to figure out what was going on, tried to deal with memory loss and the other effects of using magic. Zayvion is mysterious, but I love his character anyway. He's clearly hiding a lot, but we get to see enough of him over the course of the book to get a decent sense of him. The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but it did leave me wanting more. There is a lot left very open at the end of this book, to be dealt with in the rest of the series, which I ordered as soon as I was done with this! A great read, looking forward to catching up on the series! 9/10

Friday, 4 June 2010

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

"Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but she's in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with… until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…"
Glimmerglass is the first book in Jenna's new young adult Faeriewalker series and I loved it!! Beginning to end I found the book almost impossible to put down. Dana is used to being the adult, taking care of herself, taking care of her drunk mother, making sure the bills get paid on time etc, but she's sick of it. Sick of constantly moving, of never being able to get close to anyone, of trying to hide her mom's alcohol dependence. She thought finding her father, running away to him in Avalon, a world in England where Faerie and the mortal worlds co-exist, would be the end of her problems, a chance to start over without being the one making all the decisions. But from the moment she touches down at London Heathrow, things start going wrong and it doesn't take long for Dana to find herself way out of her depth and more isolated than ever.

For all her maturity and experience playing the adult, Dana is only 16 and is very naive and inexperienced when it comes to boys, and friendships as well though to a slightly lesser extent. It's something she's very aware of and I think it makes her more realistic somehow. Her awkwardness with the Ethan, who is very used to girls falling all over him, is cute and understandable, and helps to make her even more likable. I also really like how she wants to be the kid, wants to be taken care of for a change. Responsibility sucks, and she knows it. But it doesn't stop her doing what she feels is the right thing when things get messy. She has to cope with a lot throughout this book and while sometimes it got to her, there are times she really rises to the occasion as well. There is one particular moment (I'm not saying details for spoilers sake) where something happens, and her reaction to it made me so freakin proud of her while I was also aching for her because it was not a nice thing that happened. I don't think I've felt quite so seriously proud of a fictional character before. I found Dana very easy to relate to, I was rooting for her the whole way and really felt for her as she tried to figure out how to survive in this new world.

The action started early on and never really let up. Avalon is shrouded in mystery and we're never given much detail of the world, how it works, the characters or their motives at once. Instead we discover little bits here and there as the story winds on, but you can't ever be too sure about much. It makes for a very intriguing story and I was just wishing for more the whole way through. I love the mysterious nature of everything in this book. But while we don't always get a lot on the side characters, every glimpse in to them we do get, is a tantalizing one, showing the possibilities for so much. I thought pretty much all the side characters were very well drawn, with their motives hidden but glimpses given to show they're more than placements for the plot. My favourites have to be Kimber, Finn and Keane, and Keane is the one who I desperately want more of in the next book. The plot moves along quickly with a lot of twists and turns, some you can see coming but the quality of the trip there meant I didn't care in the least. There was no cliff hanger ending, but even so I finished the book and was hungry for more. More of Dana, the characters and the world they exist in.

I really did completely fall for this book, the world, the characters, the writing. It's one of those fantastic YA books where the teens sound like teens, but also show the maturity they can posses, even though they still screw up. The kind of YA books I think can easily appeal to adults and teens alike. There are some teen books where there is almost the sense of the teens being made to sound younger than they are, and that doesn't happen here. Here, like in Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead), Strange Angels (Lili St Crow), it's almost the sense of untold respect for teens from the author. It's something I don't feel too often, but it's here, and it makes the book that much better. It's a gripping and intense journey with Dana, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I can't wait for book 2, Shadowspell, next year. If you're a fan of YA and/or UF books, this one should be a must read!

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Check This Contest Out

Candace is giving away a signed copy of Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready on her blog here. Go check it out!!

I adored Shade, like, seriously fell in love with it. It's beautifully written and a really great story. I can not wait for the second book, Shift, to be out next year. Shade is one of the best books I've read so far this year and if you like good, grown up YA UF books, you must check this one out.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Reign Check by Michelle Rowen

"Nikki Donovan has had a lot to deal with since learning she was half human, half demon. But things take a darker turn when Rhys, a gorgeous -- but potentially dangerous -- faery king enrolls at her high school to investigate Nikki's potential for fulfilling an apocalyptic prophesy. Nikki knows she'd never turn violent, and she certainly couldn't destroy the world...could she?
Of course, all Nikki really wants is to be reunited with Michael, a Shadow creature whose status as her personal servant is further complicated by their undeniable attraction to each other. Even though the rules of the Shadowlands strictly forbid their romance, Nikki is determined not to let Michael go. But when she is summoned to the Underworld to appear before a demon council, it will take all her courage -- and perhaps a bit of demon-level strength -- to get herself out again."

Reign Check is the second book in the Demon Princess series from Michelle Rowen. I really liked the first book, a lot more than I thought I would I have to admit. But I loved this one more. It picks up right where Reign or Shine (book 1) left off and like book 1, covers just a week or so. And it's a very eventful week. It's one thing after another for Nikki and nothing is quite as it seems. I had a really tough job putting this book down. Nikki had thought that maybe now her father wasn't about to die, that maybe being a demon princess wouldn't be so bad. But then faery king Rhys (who I maybe fell a little bit in love with) appears as a new student at her school and suddenly things take a turn for the worse. It's one thing after another going wrong for Nikki after that as she learns more about the Shadowlands, the demon world and certain other things going on.
We get to explore a lot more of the world Michelle has created in this book, right alongside Nikki. We get our first look in to the demon world, get to know the characters we've already met better, and meet some very interesting new ones as well. This book had a bit of a darker feel to it than book 1, which I liked. But it still had some very funny moments as well (a certain character being drunk being my favourite, but I won't say who). As well as expanding what we see of the worlds in this book, there is also some really good character development. Nikki's learnt a lot in a short space of time and I love seeing how she's dealing with it all. But she isn't the only one who finds out some dark secrets in this book.
As well as the main plot there are several little side plots going on. We get more on some than others, some are just little things going on in the background, but they all add to the depth of the book. Of the side plots, I really hope the ones with Nikki's best friend Melinda and Rhys' are explored more. My only real complaint about this book, is that there isn't enough of Rhys (I did say I maybe fell a little in love with him...). Overall, Reign Check a really good follow up to Reign or Shine. I loved it, the characters and I can't wait for the next one. 8/10