Monday, 31 January 2011

Monday Wrap Up [4]

Welcome to my weekly wrap up post!

As it's the end of the month, I'm tagging in a few end of the month wrap up bits as well at the end of this post. First off though the regular stuff. Last week was another week spent very sick and getting little reading done until the end of the week.

Possessions by Nancy Holder - I got about 35-40 pages in and gave up. Just wasn't for me. I flicked through some of it and read a paragraph or two here and there near the end. Seemed like maybe it would have gotten better, but I wasn't interested enough to find out. I really like some of Nancy's other works, so I'm certain there are those who'd enjoy this, just this story didn't work for me. Possessions made 2 DNF's in a row which is unheard of for me (first was Awakened by Ednah Walters).
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols - this is one of my favourite ever YA contemp romances! I reread it because I was craving a contemp and after 2 DNF's I needed something I loved and familiar.
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller - so nearly made it 3 DNF's in a row (I'm not counting Going Too Far cause it was a reread). I liked it, then didn't, then got really fed up with it and mostly finished it because I didn't want to make it 3 DNF's. Some of the ideas are really good, but the main character, Haven, drove me nuts.
One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen - the second book in the Past Midnight series is far better than the first! Very much enjoyed it.

Again, a week full of scheduled posts thanks to my being organized before I got sick! :D I am now though needing new posts, but that's okay, cause I am mostly better and can write them again.

Tuesday Jan 25th - Review - The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa [The Iron Fey #3]. I'd tell you how much I lvoe this series, but I can't. So just go buy it. ;)
Wednesday Jan 26th - Review from Nayuleska - Crazy by Han Nolan. While I was busy with sis's b'day, Nayu was sharing this review of a book I'd not taken note of before and now really want!
Thursday Jan 27th - Review - Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. A 2011 debut and a fantastic YA contemp.
Friday Jan 28th - Review - When The Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer. This is a YA contemp romance I wanted to love, and does have some good moments, but just didn't work for me.
Saturday Jan 29th - In My Mailbox - a few great titles.

Week Jan 31st - Feb 6th will see these reviews going up:
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton [Angelfire #1] - another 2011 debut full of awesome!
Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells [Sabina Kane #3] - best book in the Sabina series so far. Heart wrenching, but awesome.

And again, I'm not committing to more reviews because right now, that's all I got. I'm hoping to post a review for The Eternal Ones as well, and/or One Hundred Candles, but I'm not making any promises.

Reading plans for the week:
I'm currently reading Hate List by Jennifer Brown and ...I'm not sure 'enjoying' is the right word for this book, because it's dealing with very dark situations. But it's very good. I'll finish it today. I think I'll then be reading other YA contemps this week, but I'm not actually 'planning' any. I'm just going to read what takes my fancy when it's time for a new book. I'll let you know what I end up reading next week!

End of the Month
Total no. books read: 12 (doesn't incl. reread/novella)
YA's read: 9
Adult titles read: 3
Novellas: 1
Number of reviews posted: 16
DNF's: 2
Rereads: 1
Titles read on Kindle: 3 (incl. e-ARC's/novella)
Favourite book of the month: Entangled by Cat Clarke. Just mentioning the title of this book gives me chills all over again!!

I can't believe January is over already!! Hope you all have a good week and a good February! :)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

In My Mailbox [17]

IMM is hosted by the lovely Kristi over at The Story Siren as a chance to share the books we've received or bought over the past week.

Kristi, I'm sure you all know, is a massive supportive, positive presence in the book blogging world. And now she's asking for help. On Friday she shared the news on twitter that her 6 year old cousin Kaylea had been diagnosed with leukimia. Understandably this has shocked their whole family. Kristi is asking for any support that could be offered, a card, a book or a monetary donation if possible. You may well have seen the post already anyway, but I want to add it in here to help make sure it's seen. I'm keeping them all in my prayers right now.

This week I got:

For review:
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell - Goodreads
I'll be honest here and state that this is one which sounds pretty good, but is outside my usual tastes. Won't be reading it for a couple weeks, but I'm curious to find out if I get on with it or not.
Thanks to NetGalley

Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin - Goodreads
Belated Christmas present from one of my best friends! Thanks hun :) <3

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa [The Iron Fey #3] - Goodreads // review - I'm so in love with this series now and TIQ is!! I'm so desperate for The Iron Knight! And for someone who's not a pink girl, I love this cover!
My Soul To Save by Rachel Vincent [Soul Screamers #2] (UK version) - Goodreads - I love the Soul Screamers series and I'm totally in love with these UK covers, so of course I'm collecting them despite having the US ones already!! Go read this series if you haven't yet.
Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan - Goodreads
The Mermaid's Mirror by L. K. Madigan - Goodreads - A couple weeks back my twitter feed was suddenly full of retweets to a post from Lisa where she shared, very eloquently, her very hard news that she has stage IV cancer. So aside from sending her and her family my thoughts and prayers, I did the only other thing I could to support her, and bought her books just as soon as I had the spare money to do so. Hoping to read both of them very soon.

Friday, 28 January 2011

When The Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

Caridad Ferrer's site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Rating: 2/5

Dance is Soledad Reyes's life. About to graduate from Miami's Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandell, who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Instead, why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has.
But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad's affections appears. One explosive encounter later, Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened but her entire future as a professional dancer in jeopardy.

I had high hopes for this book. It sounded like an intense, romantic read and one I'd enjoy, I really liked the premise for it. But within a chapter or two it was pretty obvious this one was not going to work for me. I found Soledad hard to connect with. She's not exactly flakey, but very focused and the way she was blind to certain things and the general world going on around her irritated me.

The writing is good, but the book is written from Soledad's emotions and thoughts so it sometimes felt like I was wading through something not quite liquid as I tried to figure out exactly what was going on. The dance and music scenes are described beautifully, but Soledad can go from one place with one person to another with someone else with no description at all. One moment she's having a conversation with character b, next moment she's with character c and b is no where around. Have to play a bit of mental catch up and understand that actually, nothing has been ignored, it's just been left out of the script. When Soledad is actually interacting with other people, and when her thoughts are more specific and less general, then she showed the spark needed for me to like her and connect with the story. But it tended to just last for a sentence or two then I was struggling again.

Plot wise I didn't get with the story either. I did something I very rarely do with this book. When I was around the halfway point I skipped to the end and read a few paragraphs. I needed to know which of the two guys Soledad was going to end up with, because if it went one way, I wouldn't have bothered finishing it. As it went the other, I carried on with it, but it wasn't a quick finish. I found the characters hard to mesh with and I wasn't too impressed with the handling of certain issues either. One good thing about it though was how the second love interest came from an unexpected place. I really liked that part of it.

But throughout the book Soledad showed very little growth, right until the final couple of chapters. I actually really liked those final chapters, for the most part. It was a case of too little, too late for me though. It did redeem it somewhat for me, but not enough for me to have found it a particularly worth while read. I'm certain though that there are plenty out there for whom the style and story would work very well for. It's certainly got some intensity and heat to the dance scenes and a few parts of the romance as well, along with some realities of emotional abuse. It just didn't work for me.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Lorraine's site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought it
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: Jan 11th (US)
Rating: 4/5
Challenges: DAC 2011

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

Other Words For Love is a great debut novel. I liked Ari very quickly, despite finding the start a little slow. It's easy to get a good picture of Ari's personality and issues from the word go. And understand them as well. I don't think that blurb actually gives a real clear idea of what the book is about because while yes, the boyfriend plays a big role, it's not one the main factor at work, or I don't see it that way at least. More than anything this is the story of Ari growing up and learning to deal with things past and present and become her own person. I found Ari easy to relate to, particularly towards the end of the book. She's insecure, weighed down by her parents expectations and her sisters past failures, never feeling 'good enough' at anything or for anyone. I love how her character developed over the course of the book. Ups and downs, reactions and emotions, they're all realistically handled and I felt so much for Ari at times. She managed to irritate me as well, but more like a good friend who you know isn't being smart, rather than outright irritation that would make me want to stop reading.

Something I really loved about Other Words is that it's set in 1986. No internet, no cell phones and a different 'feel' to the book than the majority of what I read. It was a refreshing change of pace and something that worked incredibly well. Throw in an obvious connection between author and setting and it created an atmosphere that I soaked up and loved.

The relationships (parental, sibling, friendships, first love, etc) are all so well drawn! The way things change as people grow up, the impact events and words can have, and the depiction of how things can go so wrong without bad intentions. The selfish comments, the snide ones, the loving ones, they're all a part of life and I really liked how the bad things didn't get hidden away at all. I want to explain some parts of what made this book so brilliant for me, but that would hit spoiler territory so I won't. So I shall finish by saying that this is not your typical first love story, it's heartbreaking at times, bittersweet, beautiful and all around great! Will certainly be checking out future titles from Lorraine!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Crazy by Han Nolan

Provided as part of an ARC blog tour by Good Golly Miss Holly (so I didn't get to keep it)
September 2010 (US), Harcourt
Young Adult

Summary from Harcout 
Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition.
Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.

From the blurb I knew this would be a hard hitting book. It was. There were so many times when I got choked up with Jason's emotions. He has to deal with so much on his own, all the time, that he isn't aware of the help that authorities and new found friends can give him. He doesn't have the perspective that outsiders have of his father's mental health. He isn't that eager for help either, he fights every change that happens - and he doesn't always achieve success in his battles. I feel that the book is a good portrayal of teen behaviour. It shows how tough life is for a teen carer. I think it shows that although in many ways Jason is more mature than his peers, he still lacks being able to step away from a situation and figure out that the best outcome wouldn't necessarily be his own ideal outcome.

The way Jason's imaginary friends are presented did make the book harder for me to read: but I must stress that I wasn't feeling well when I read that book, so even normal reading isn't easy to do. I did like all their comments, because they provided Jason with an outside view of the situation. Deep down inside he knew some of the reality of his life, and using imaginary characters made it easier to accept. As he slowly forms friendships in the odd little therapy group, the input from those imaginary friends reduces. Jason learns he can lean on others for support, that they care for him. Sometimes he puts his foot in his mouth (ok, I might be being generous with 'sometimes'. He does it a lot). He is very quick to go on the defensive, and doesn't always realise that everyone actually is trying to help him.

The book does stir up the fact that what the authorities can provide for people in Jason's situation isn't always ideal, and isn't always what should be provided. Yet it demonstrates that with a good support network pretty much anything can be realised. Jason's story shows just how harsh life can be, and yet the people who face the most challenges in life are the ones who prosper and gain the most maturity and insight of the world. It doesn't hold back on details, and life often doesn't have a happy ending. But it is essential to have support from somewhere, otherwise progress can't be made. Jason made so much progress that I was choking up with joy at the end. I'm putting this on my own personal wish list.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

RHCB Virtual Event

Just wanted to let you all know about an awesome virtual panel event going on over at Once Upon a Bookcase next week, hosted by the lovely Jo, working with Random House Children's Books, on Friday 4th February.

Three authors, Lauren Kate, Karen Mahoney and Amy Meredith, will be spending an hour chatting and answering reader questions. The event starts at 5pm GMT. For full details on the event, and how to submit a question, check out Jo's post about it here. Or click the banner above or below!

Should be a fun time! Hope a bunch of you stop by :)

virtual panel event

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa's site
The Iron Fey site
Series: The Iron Fey #3
Copy obtained: e-galley for review from NetGalley
Publisher: HarlequinTeen (US) Mira Ink (UK)
Release date: Jan 25th (US) no UK date yet
Rating: 5/5
SPOILER WARNING! Contains spoilers from previous books.

 In less than twenty-four hours I'll be seventeen.
Although, technically, I won't actually be turning seventeen. I've been in the Nevernever too long. When you're in Faery, you don't age. So while a year has passed in the real world, age wise I'm probably only a few days older than when I went in.
In real life, I've changed so much, I don't even recognize myself.
My name is Meghan Chase. 
I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it. 
This time, there will be no turning back.

The Iron Queen picks up right where The Iron Daughter left off, with Ash and Meghan exiled from Faery and stuck in the mortal world. But the war hasn’t stopped and neither of them are happy that they’ve had to walk away. And Meghan may just be the best person to help stop it. If she can figure out how.

This series has just gotten stronger and stronger. I couldn’t put The Iron Queen down! It was one long, beautiful, painful emotional roller coaster. Romance, danger, darkness and action blend seamlessly together making a fantastic story. Like the two books before it, it’s beautifully written and I got sucked straight in and it felt like I’d just put TID down moments before it. I loved how the story developed through this third book, so many twists I never saw coming!

The character growth is fantastic as well. Meghan has come so far from the girl who knew nothing of Faerie at the start of The Iron King (book #1). I was so proud of her for the tough decisions she had to make, and I was aching and crying for her at the same time. Grim and Puck are easily two of my favourite side characters from any book or series and they continue to give their humor to lighten the enclosing darkness for a moment or two! The world building has expanded and deepened with each book, and it continues to do so here. I loved seeing more of the world, so dark and creepy and yet completely beautiful and compelling as well!

Some books just come across as simple magic, and you can’t explain the emotional attachment involved. This is one of those books. I just loved every moment of it! It tore at me, left me thinking for hours afterwards. And that!! Very intense, it tore me apart over and over! I thought it’d gotten as bad as it could, then something worse would happen. I honestly had no idea what the outcome would be until I was done. And then I wanted more! An awesome addition to the Iron Fey series, the best one so far for sure. I cannot wait for The Iron Knight, Ash’s story, later in the year!! A fantastic series that I’d highly recommend!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Monday Wrap Up [3]

Welcome to my weekly wrap up :)

So most of last week was a total wash for me because I had flu. Major suckage. Everything went wrong. I'm hoping like hell this week is better because it's my sisters 21st on Wednesday and I want her to have a really great day. Fingers crossed my fogged brain choice of balloons is not as poor as I currently fear...

What did I manage to read last week?
Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning - Fever book 5. The final part of Mac's story and it was a beast of a book. Shocking, twisty, awesome and very satisfying. Reading it over three days wasn't ideal, but I was too sick to read it for very long at once (although it was great company on one very sleepless night, damn cough).
Awakened by Ednah Walters - I read the first 150 pages over the course of a week, then skimmed the last 100 pages (well, not really, cause I only read a few more paragraphs).

And that's it. Last weeks aim of 4 books was very serious wishful thinking. Anyway, moving on...

The idea behind my Monday Wrap Up's was an added incentive to stay organized on the blog. To be able to do this post, I have to have at least a couple reviews scheduled and a realistic idea of what posts I could get done in the coming week and post within the same week. The idea being that if I had that, then if I had a particularly bad week health wise (or, say, got smacked upside the head with flu) it wouldn't really matter and content would still be posted. And hurrah! 3 weeks in to the new year and that's exactly what happened! Meant I could be sick and not write any posts (well, I did a couple, but only because I really wanted to and felt up to it) and not stress! Much joy to be had there at least.

So here's last weeks posts:
Monday Jan 17th - Review - Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey [Drake Chronicles #2]. I liked this book, but not as much as book 1. Still, a good read.
Tuesday Jan 18th - ARC Review - Delirium by Lauren Oliver [Delirium #1]. I liked this new dystopian book, but I struggled to connect with the main character.
Wednesday Jan 19th - personal post - introducing my four legged family!! Just cause I was feeling crappy and wanted to talk about them. You can just look at the cute pics if you wish ;)
Thursday Jan 20th - Review - The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney [The Iron Witch Saga]. Great debut which worked really well for me despite many factors against it!
Friday Jan 21st - Review - Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning [Fever #5]. Final Fever book is a success in my book, but it's a little surreal that it's now all over! Sadness.
Saturday 22nd - In My Mailbox [16] - a small but awesome one.

Week 24th - 30th Jan will see the following reviews going up:
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa. The third Iron Fey book is seriously awesome!
Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. This is another 2011 debut which has gone over very well with me.

I'm not going to garuntee any other reviews going up because I'm not certain which books I'll get reviewed this week, or if I'll post one of the spare ones I've got drafted. There will be another review in addition to the two above though.

Reading wise, I'm mirroring the other half of last weeks goal: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller and Possessions by Nancy Holder. I'm not going to aim for more than that either because I'm still sick and I think I'll be lucky even to manage those two as it is, it's my sis's birthday this week so theres some extra stuff going on.

Hope you all have a great week! :)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

In My Mailbox [16]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Kristi at The Story Siren.

I only got two books this week (both bought), but they're great books!! And both have very pretty, very cool covers as well...

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning - the final book in the Fever series [book #5] - Goodreads // review
I loved it. Great ending to the series, despite a few little issues with it. Mostly I am a very, very happy Fever fan!!

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney - The Iron Witch Saga #1 - Goodreads // review
Loved this debut! And look how pretty!! This is the Waterstones exclusive edition with pretty gold pages too:

Okay, I know the picture doesn't show it too well, but I promise the edges of the book are gold in color!

Confession time: I actually got 3 books this week, cause I totally forgot I preordered a copy of The Iron Witch months ago cause it was half price on Amazon, until it showed up in the post on Thursday. I then still went hunting for the gold paged one cause Kaz had been nice enough to tweet pictures of it and make me want one too badly ;) I shall give the 'regular' UK one to one of my best friends when she's back from Uni and keep the pretty gold one ;)

So that's it for me this week! What did you get in your mailbox?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning's site
Series: Fever #5
Copy obtained: bought it
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Jan 18th)
Rating: 4.5/5
Spoiler Warning!! Contains spoilers for previous books!

"Evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it's good."

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever. Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister's murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh- a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds. In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.
Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?
From the luxury of the Lord Master's penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac's journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world . . . or destroy it.

Shadowfever picks up right where Dreamfever left off, and for me there was no surprise at all to the discovery of the identity of the beast. From there we have a very different Mac to anything we've seen from her yet. And she has already changed a huge amount of the course of the series. Watching Mac grow up and develop from this very superficial 'barbie-girl' into someone who can kick ass, take the pain thrown her way and make the tough decisions she has to has been a fantastic journey. Likewise the world building has been some of my favourite. It's a dark, complex world with so many layers and so easy to get lost in. That hasn't changed for this final book.

Shadowfever is long, much longer than all the books before it. And while I never really felt like it was dragging as such, I do think it could have done with being a bit shorter. I think certain aspects were drawn out too far so that when they finally happened/were revealed, there was much less impact than there could have been. I was also a little surprised to find myself disappointed by the very last twist. Just something that got very suddenly tied up all neat and nice. It wasn't the biggest plot or anything, but it was just there then over and glossed over some at that. For the first time since Darkfever, where Mac's sunshiny, shallow personality grated on me, she irritated me again. It's late on in the book after one of many reveals and I just got very annoyed with her reaction and partly wanted her back to the Mac she'd been earlier in the book and also wishing the story would move on so I didn't need to put up with that Mac anymore. There were a couple other things I found myself a little bit disappointed with, but talking about them would be spoiler territory so I won't.

Really though, none of those little bits ruined the book for me. There is certainly a lot going on in Shadowfever and there are some real stand out moments which I loved. A few of the many twists were just fantastic and left me gaping, even when a couple had decidedly less impact. I read Shadowfever over a few days through a haze of flu, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and while I didn't find it as impossible to put down as books 1-4, it was still a very compelling read!

Final books are so tricky. They so easily fall in to the disaster category and taint those before it, and rarely it seems can they outdo what came before (or possibly I'm reading the wrong books!!). I know there are those who would possibly consider Shadowfever one of those disasters, and I'm not denying it's flawless. It's not my favourite of the series (that lies with Faefever and Dreamfever), but I do think it's a very strong ending. I have my little issues with it, but overall I'm very satisfied with the outcome. Most of the big questions are answered and those left unanswered, I can live with. I really enjoy this final adventure in to Mac's world and I'm happy to say this is still one of my favourite series ever! KMM would have been very hard pressed to please all her many fans with this book, but I for one am very happy. Great read, and a worthy final for a spectacular series!!


Reviews for previous books (in order): Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever & Dreamfever (joint review)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Karen Mahoney's site
Series: The Iron Witch Saga #1
Copy obtained: ARC from the publisher, Random House Childrens Books
Publisher: RHCB (UK) Flux (US)
Release date: Jan 20th (UK) Jan 25th (US)
Rating: 4/5

FREAK. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic - the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.
When the darkest outcasts of Faerie - the vicious wood elves - abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend - even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

This 2011 debut novel on paper is not a book I'd love. It's centered on faeries (far from my favourite paranormal creatures), it's written in third person (I far prefer 1st), it's very rich in mythology/magic/alchemy (mix that with faeries and I tend to feel bogged down with information and don't enjoy it). And yet, I was very excited for The Iron Witch. Why? Because Kaz has had two short stories published before (in The Eternal Kiss and Kiss Me Deadly anthologies) which I completely adored. They were about completely different characters, but I loved the writing so I was very excited for Kaz's first novel despite all the potential factors against it. And I wasn't wrong, I did love The Iron Witch!

For those like me who prefer first person, Kaz makes is much easier to connect with Donna by having the occasional 'excerpt' from Donna's journal. Those little glimpses, and there are only a few, gave me the extra insight in to Donna's mind and her past that I needed to connect with her better, and through her the rest of the story. I did sometimes feel a disconnect with her, but I've got a feeling that was me being very sick while I was reading the book, than the writing itself. Donna is someone who doesn't seem to have a lot of confidence outwardly, but internally has a strength I love! She's an outsider, with just her best friend Navin for company. But Navin knows nothing of her 'other' side, the faeries, the alchemy, or that her hands are literally laced with iron after a horrific event in her past. I adored the friendship between the two, the loyalty, trust and how it changed throughout the book with the new troubles thrown their way. Donna is fiercely loyal, willing to fight as hard as she needs to protect those she loves, and it's probably my favourite thing about her.

The story itself is dark, twisting and yes, very rich in mythology and magic. But instead of finding myself switching off as things were explained and described, I found myself wanting more. I needed more, I wanted to understand all the why's and how's of how Donna's world works. It's so complex, and believable and brilliant! Little things kept being revealed and added throughout the book so it's not all given at once, so there isn't an info overload at any point. It's a fairly intense read, particularly the second half, but there are the odd lighter moments as well. The occasional semblance of complete normalcy which made me smile. It only happens a couple times, but I loved it.

There is a romantic plot to the book as well, in the form of Xan. I enjoyed the relationship between him and Donna, how it grew and the way they connect with each other. It's sweet and cute and manages to be pretty hot most of the time as well. Except, I don't entirely like Xan. It took me a long while to really warm up to him. He's mysterious. It adds a tension to their scenes, for me at least, which I actually really enjoy. But I'm curious to see where things go in book 2, The Wood Queen.

Overall it's a really great debut! Some fantastic world building, great characters and a twisting story that really kept me guessing! It's dark, mysterious, rich in secrets and mythology, and above all brilliant!! The ending in particular really stood out to me and left me hungry for more. There isn't a cliff hanger to it, but there may as well have been. I could have happily jumped straight in to The Wood Queen to find out what happens next because while there is a lot wrapped up within this book, there is still plenty left to be explained and explored. I highly recommend this book, especially if you're a fan of Fey stories and/or those rich in mythology. And even if you're not, read it anyways because it's a fantastic story!

If you want to check out the first couple chapters, you can do so here:

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

On a more personal note...

So a few days, a week ago (I've lost track of time, I blame this damn flu bug) I read this post from Clover over at Fluttering Butterflies, which was a little about another aspect of her life, outside books. She mentioned how she thought it was nice to see other sides of book bloggers, not just the book tastes. And I happen to agree. So for a change today I shall share something of the rest of me. I could talk about CFS/ME, and maybe try and help others understand what living with that is like, and maybe I will at some point, but this time I think I will share the other beings that are responsible for keeping me sane alongside books. I am a Christian, and my faith is what gives me hope, keeps me going and these guys are my gifts from God as a physical reminder. So let me introduce to you my four legged family.

Sunny - 5 year old dwarf French lop.
This is my totally nuts little man! After I lost my previous rabbit (Fudge) I went looking at rabbits from a woman who runs a rabbit rescue center and also breeds show bunnies, selling some of the babies. Sunny was one of the babies, and he was very friendly and outgoing, sniffing my hands and looking for attention. He was about 11 weeks when I brought him home. He's completely bonkers! He doesn't do sitting still, he clamors for attention and follows me around the garden when I've got him out loose with me.

Ashey at about 13 weeks
Ashey (Ash technically, but I rarely seem to call her that) - 1 year old dwarf lop
To explain a little of Ashey's story, I gotta go back. Last March I lost my baby, Bracken, a dwarf lop mix. Brax was my angel, a snappy madam who took chunks out of everyone, except me. Well, she tried a few times. Left the odd mark, but mostly I was her safety net and she trusted me only. She got sick and I had to make that hellish decision to have her put down and I was devastated. Later that night my mom mentioned that when she'd been in the little flower shop where she bought hay for the bunnies that they had some very cute tiny baby bunnies in. Now, my mom loves my bunnies, and loves cute babies too. But she doesn't normally mention seeing the babies they sell there. And even rarer still to mention them with the affection she did that night.

So the next morning, having gone outside and put Sunny out in his run and tried like hell not to brake down over Brax's empty hutch, I head out to take a look. I was heart broken, I was driving along thinking what the hell am I doing? I just lost my baby and I can barely breath past the pain and I couldn't talk about it. So why the hell was I going to look at these guys? I got there. Sat in the car for a minute and then took a deep breath and went in. I was there so I may as well right? Three hutches on top of each other, all with cute babies in them. One has 2 black and white dwarf lops in, one has 2 brindled babies in (couldn't look too long, too close to Brax's color), and the other has 3 tri-colored dwarf lops in it. All completely different colorings and markings, but they all reminded me of my first bunny, Flopsy. I put my fingers to the mesh, let them sniff, trying not to cry cause dammit I wanted my baby back! And one of them licked my finger. Reason we picked Flops from the litter? She licked my finger. So that was it, that babe was coming home with me. So Ashey joined the family. My tiny baby girl with ridiculously long legs, a wiry body and half her face light, half dark. She still loves to lick everything, very cute! And she's bonkers too, races around the garden at top speed, jumping over anything.

I've also got Honey, who is a gerbil, but I don't have any decent pics of her to share. Damn creatures are FAST! Trying to get non-blurry pics is a little tricky. Anyway, I've got Honey and she's a friendly little gem. She's old now, but she used to love running around my floor and hiding under my bed. In the house my sister also has a mouse (who is very cute and sweet) and a very evil rat (who is not at all sweet, seriously, he stares at you and lunges trying to take chunks out of you through the bars. I sort of love him anyways). They complete my 'at home' four legged family.

I may have mentioned this already, but I'm a total horse nut as well as a book worm. I can't ride at the moment as I'm too ill (generally speaking I mean, not just with this flu bug) but I do help out for a couple hours at the Riding for the Disabled Centre near me once a week. Obviously none of the horses there are mine, but I love them as if they were. I've got my three angels there too:

Poppy is my baby girl, she's the one I ride when I am well enough. She can be very lazy, but she's also very strong and speedy if it suits her. Poppy also doesn't really like being groomed or tacked up, but the rest of the time she's a total sweet heart! She'll fall asleep with her head resting on my shoulder if she can. She loves being fussed.

Jake, one of 'my' boys, was the first horse I started riding when I started at the center (I'd been riding for years before that). He's a softy, nothing much fazes him. Takes a bit of waking up under saddle, but otherwise is a gem. Stubborn yes, but a gem ;)

Barney is the other of my boys there. I rode him for a while as well. Had a bad accident off him a couple years back, damaged my shoulder, but oh well! Saddle slipped, it happens occasionally. Probably the sweetest natured of the three, occasionally a bit spooky, but mostly just a very loving, willing horse.

Poppy & Jake watching me clean tack
 So that's my four legged family, at home and otherwise!! What about you guys. What four legged family do you have? Would love to hear about them!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver's site
Series: Delirium trilogy #1
Copy obtained: e-galley from NetGalley
Publisher: HarperTeen (US) Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Release date: Feb 1st (US) 3rd (UK)
Rating: 3.5/5

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good things. They didn't understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love

I liked Delirium within a couple of chapters. Its flowing narrative grabbed me, but Lena did not. It took me until around the two thirds mark before I really connected with her. It made it an easy book for me to put down and walk away from. But I did like it. I liked the world building, the writing and the pacing, all of which were really good. But Lena’s best friend, Hana, along with Alex and Lena’s younger cousin Grace, were all characters I found much easier to connect with. Getting to know them was a pleasure and where my greatest enjoyment of the book came from.

It was a little odd reading a book where I had such a disconnect from the main character, but like the rest of the book as much as I did this one. Normally, if I don’t connect with the MC, I can’t connect with the story. But in this case I could. It’s very well written with imagery that speaks loudly and description that doesn’t bog the story down. It’s flowing, soft, intense and I liked that. The ending in particular was very strong! I was very unhappy with one decision from Lena towards the that end though, and it’s something I hope gets covered more in book two. But aside from that, I enjoyed the story. I liked the romance, even if Lena was irritating me a little with some of her thinking in it. And there were some very good twists thrown in along the way.

This book actually reads like a standalone, rather than the first of a trilogy, right up until the final chapter. That ending is a real smack in the face, in a good way, mostly. But right up until then, it could have been a standalone. It's a heck of a cliff hanger! Before that, I could have lived with the unanswered questions, but now I'm left needing answers. I'm not desperate for book 2, but I'm certainly looking forward to it.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey

Alyxandra Harvey's site
Series: Drake Chronicles #2
Review for previous books: My Love Lies Bleeding
Copy obtained: gift (family)
Rating: 3.5/5

'Conversation halted abruptly. They all turned to stare at us as if we were poisonous mushrooms suddenly growing in a manicured garden. They were pale and perfect, with gleaming teeth and hard eyes.'

It's been centuries since Isabeau St. Croix survived the French Revolution. Now she's made her way back to the living, and must face the ultimate test by confronting the evil British lord who turned her into a vampire and left her buried for two hundred years. That's if she can control her affection for Logan Drake, a vampire whose bite is as sweet as the revenge she seeks.

I really loved book one of this series, My Love Lies Bleeding (Hearts at Stake in the US), so despite this one being about different characters I was still really excited to read it. But I didn't end up enjoying it as much. Isabeau was met right at the end of My Love Lies Bleeding and takes center stage here. Like book 1 it's written with two different points of view, one being Isabeau, and the other Logan Drake. I loved all of Logan's POV, I really enjoyed getting to know him better. And when Isabeau's POV was in the present, I really enjoyed her as well.

But part of the story is Isabeau's past. There I had trouble. I have no problem admitting to the fact that I'm not a big historical fan, in fact it's something I rarely read. I don't think there was anything wrong with the writing of those past sections, or that they were particularly slow. They were fairly important to the overall plot, but I found them slow reading and they didn't really hold my interest. There was the odd good moment in them, but mostly I found myself wanting to get back to the present time and what was actually going on for Isabeau and Logan.

Aside from that, I did enjoy the story. I liked Isabeau and I found her to be a well drawn character, as was Logan. They certainly had chemistry together and I liked seeing the developments and changes through both of them as the story unfolded. But I think I was looking for more of Lucy's craziness (My Love Lies Bleeding) rather than the more centered, focused, quieter Isabeau. That didn't help my enjoyment of the book and it did take me a little while to warm to Isabeau and really like the story.

Plot wise it develops nicely, involving Isabeau's thirst for revenge while continuing the issues the Drake's have been facing, namely Solange being a target for the other powerful vampires around. I liked getting to see some of the characters through different eyes as well, noticing things that Lucy and Solange (narrators of My Love Lies Bleeding) didn't show. Overall I still liked this book, particularly Logan's parts and towards the end where things got a lot more intense, but I think a lot more of book 1. I'm sure there are plenty who think the opposite though. This one just didn't fully work for me. Really looking forward to book 3 and the rest of the series though!

Monday Wrap Up [2]

Monday Wrap up is my new weekly post where I link up all the posts from the previous week and mention whats coming in the next one. (All part of my 'get organized on the blog' 2011 resolution)

Had a very crappy week health wise this past week, which is continuing with the flu I caught from my sister. Joy. However, I still managed to get a lot of reading done and posts sorted. So first up what I read last week (links go to Goodreads):
Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells [Sabina Kane #3] - really loved it! Best of the series so far for sure. Review will be posted on Feb 3rd, which is the UK release date.
Entangled by Cat Clarke - a 2011 debut which blew me away and left me all broken and hollow and unable to breath.
When The Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer - had high hopes for this one, but sadly disappointing.
Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal - another good 2011 debut that I really enjoyed.

Post wise:
Monday 10th Jan - Review - Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland [Kara Gillian #3]. Evil I tell you, Evil.
Tuesday 11th Jan - Review - Shadowspell by Jenna Black [Faeriewalker #2]. If not for the romantic plots it'd be a damn perfect book!!
Wednesday 12th Jan - Cover - Sirensong by Jenna Black [Faeriewalker #3]. Love! That is all.
And no, there was no post from the lovely Nayu this Weds as there normally is, like me she was sick :( She should be back to posting here on Weds this coming Weds. :)
Thursday 13th Jan - Review - The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting [The Body Finder #1]. Beautiful, creepy, romantic and awesome!
Friday 14th Jan - Review - Entangled by Cat Clarke. I already said it's awesome right? Well let me say this instead then: BUY IT!! :)
Sunday 16th Jan - In My Mailbox - no crazy buying this week, but still some great titles.

Week 17th - 23rd Jan will see these reviews going up:
Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey - okay, so this one was meant to go up last week, it was scheduled and everything, but then I changed my mind and posted my review of The Body Finder instead. So it's going up later today instead!
Delirium by Lauren Oliver - read an e-ARC of this one from NetGalley months ago, finally posting my review.
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney - it's out on Thursday (20th Jan) in the UK. I suggest you all go buy it ;)
Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning - it's out on Tuesday (18th Jan, US) and I am dying for it!! Hoping to review it by the end of the week!

Reading wise, through the fog of flu (which, by the way, could describe basically all my day to day symptoms anyways, just x10 when I've got actual flu on top of them), I've got aims of managing 4 books again this week (I like to manage 3 on a normal week, so I'm probably asking too much of myself, especially as I have managed 4 a week for the last 3 weeks, anyways...). I've got 3 titles from UK Book Tours right now: Awakened by Ednah Walters (currently reading); Possessions by Nancy Holder; and The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller. I want (need) to get them read this week. But the only book I can guarantee being read this week is Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning. The final book in her Fever series and if you've not yet read any of them, you need to. Instantly. <3 I needs me more Barrons....

I hope you all have a much better week ahead of you than mine is looking to be right now (not self-pity, just fact). :)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

In My Mailbox [15]

IMM is a weekly post hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren, as a chance to share the books we've bought or received over the week.

Last weeks IMM was giant. This weeks is far bigger than expected, but still tiny in comparison. Still full of greatness though! Also, I REALLY need to stop buying more books!!

For review:
Possessions by Nancy Holder - Goodreads
Awakened by Ednah Walters - Goodreads
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller - Goodreads
Thanks to UK Book Tours!!

All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz - Goodreads
Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal - Goodreads - already read this one, very good! Review coming soon.
My Soul To Steal by Rachel Vincent - Goodreads - review

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Entangled by Cat Clarke

Cat Clarke's site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought it
Publisher: Quercus
Rating: 5/5
Challenges: BBC 2011, DAC 2011

"The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?

Seventeen-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got there.
As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing.
Grace must face the most important question of all.
Why is she here?

If not for a couple of unavoidable interruptions I would have read Entangled in one sitting. When I was done, I could barely breathe past the heartache and shock. Too shocked and broken to cry even. I was so chocked up though that I spent the rest of the evening on the verge of tears. I kept looking over at the book on the shelf and could feel it all bubbling up again, my heart pounding, my throat closing. I hurt for and with Grace more than I have done for a character in a long while. Holy hell this book is incredible!!

Grace had my attention from page one. The first coherent (or semi-coherent at least) day she's had since waking in a strange room, being held by the mysterious Ethan. Grace's voice jumped straight off the page at me and dug her claws in. Confused, scared, lost and yet incredibly strong. Her instant questions were mine. But the question of 'what happened?' and 'why?' burned brightest right from the word go and just got stronger with each page. I didn't just want answers, I NEEDED them.

Grace is coping, barely, by writing on the paper provided. She remembers things from her past in an attempt to figure out what happened, and that's how we learn her story. Past mixes with her present seamlessly creating a captivating story. More questions kept popping up as new secrets were revealed, and those two big questions getting more insistent with each turned page and its elusive answers. The intensity just kept building and building. Sure I made guesses along the way of what had/would happen, some right, many wrong, but I didn't need to be right, I needed to KNOW. And then the ending. Finally answers. And all I could do was fight for breath.

A stunning, captivating, heart pounding debut. It's fantastically written, paced just perfectly. Grace is strong, damaged, not without some semblance of humor and utterly believable. The side characters are just as well drawn, just as interesting. Just as easy to love or hate. For a book with so much heartache, it's actually relatively light on angst, which is clever writing. This is the story of a girl, who could be any girl, any teenager, out there, damaged because of her past. Let's just say that Entangled is a must read. And that Cat is a new auto buy author for me!

Also check out the trailer:

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Kimberly Derting's site
Series: The Body Finder #1
Copy obtained: won from Sarah at Feeling Fictional. Thank you!!
Publisher: HarperCollins (US), Headline (UK)
Rating: 4.5/5

A Girl with a morbid ability

When a murder is committed it leaves a unique echo...on both the victim and the killer. Most people are unaware of the these echoes but Violet Ambrose has always been able to sense them.
A serial killer on the loose
Now that Violet's town is in the thralls of a serial killer the echoes of the local girls he has murdered are haunting her.
And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.
The only shining light is Violet's best friend Jay. She's started falling for him and his fierce protectiveness gives her hope that he may feel the same way...
With the police at a loss, can Violet use her ability to stop the killer or is she in danger of becoming his next victim?

I was so excited to win a copy of this book! It's a book I'd had my eye on for a while. It sounded a little different and very good, with a lot of great reviews floating around for it as well. And I did love it. I barely put it down once I'd started! I just got sucked straight in to Violet's world as we hear a little about her discovering the body of a teenage girl when she was just 8. Out for a walk with her father she was 'called' towards it by the echo bodies leave behind. I already knew I was on to something I'd love by the end of that prologue. A child's innocence matched with creepiness that had me wondering instantly about what was going on. The story then jumps forward to the present day where Violet is in the first few days of her junior year of high school. When Violet starts feeling the tug of an echo and it leads her to another dead teenaged girl, things start taking a turn for the worse.

I fully admit to being a complete sap for the love story in this book. I loved the relationship between Violet and Jay from the moment we first meet him. They've been best friends pretty much their whole lives, but now things are changing. I love the way it builds, that it's not all straight forward and simple. And that despite not always being on the best terms with each other, Jay is there for Violet no matter what. His easy going, protective nature is sweet and awesome. Both his character and Violets are really well developed, neither of them are perfect, in fact Violet in particular makes some pretty dumb decisions. But it fits with her character, the story and she learns from them. The way the relationship develops between Jay and Violet though is pretty perfect. I think this is one of my favourite romantic plots I've read. It's beautiful, passionate, not all easy, and they fit together so well!

Aside from the romance, the serial killer/echoes side of the book is just as captivating. The suspense and tension just build and build. It's a very carefully woven story that balances perfectly between the romance and the danger. There are some little sections from the POV of the killer which got really very creepy! They added nicely to the tension because honestly, I had no idea who the killer was until the very end and the reveal. I couldn't figure it out. I also really like that while Violet is involved with the case a great deal, it's not one of those books where the teen figures it all out themselves with no cop, or even parental, involvement. There is a strong adult presence in The Body Finder which I'm glad of. Something that lets a lot of YA's down, is no adult involvement when there really should be. Family is important and it's shown here. I love the support Violet has, particularly from her parents.

The Body Finder is a beautifully written book and like I said at the start, one I barely put down! It's beautiful, intense, creepy and I loved every moment of it. It's very well paced as well, not rushing towards a finish line or moving slowly, but giving the chance to savor each moment. I honestly wish it could have been longer cause I wanted so much more of these characters! I can't wait for book 2, Desires of the Dead! Its out Feb 15th in the US, March 17th in the UK (I have a feeling I will not be waiting the extra month for this one if I can help it at all...that would go against my 'buy less books' plan for the year but oh well!). Awesome book which I highly recommend!!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Cover: Sirensong by Jenna Black

So I was working on a 2011 releases list for Rachel Vincent's forum, The Pride, this evening, got to Sirensong on the list and lo! The cover was up! So I headed to twitter and asked Jenna, 'is this the final cover?' to which she replied 'yes!' making me go Hurrah!!

How freaking Beautiful is that cover?!? I am in love with it.

Sirensong is the third book in Jenna Black's Faeriewalker series, due out July 5th from St. Martin's Griffin. I just reviewed book 2, Shadowspell earlier today (or yesterday, technically, for me). Now, I really liked the cover for Glimmerglass (book 1) and Loved the Shadowspell cover (which happens to fit the book perfectly as well!) and I didn't think that Sirensong's cover could outdo them, but it totally did. I love getting to see Dana face on, I love the pose. I love the touch of the rose petals from each court on it. And it still manages to fit in beautifully with books 1 and 2 with those little metalic silver dots. It's just a stunning cover and for an awesome series as well. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!!

Previous books:

What do you guys think? Like it, love it, hate it? (I promise not to throw things if you say you hate it. Or, not many anyways ;) ) Comment away!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Shadowspell by Jenna Black

Jenna Black's site
Series: Faeriewalker #2
Review for book #1 Glimmerglass
Copy obtained: bought
Release date: Jan 4th 2011 (US)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Rating: 4/5
Spoiler warning: Contains some mild spoilers for book 1

On top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended on Avalon. With his homicidal appetite and immortal powers, the Erlking has long been the nightmare of the Fae realm. A fragile treaty with the Faerie Queen, sealed with a mysterious spell, is the one thing that keeps him from hunting unchecked in Avalon, the only place on Earth where humans and Fae live together. Which means Dana's in trouble, since it's common knowledge that the Faerie Queen wants her - and her rare Faeriewalker powers - dead. The smoldering, sexy Erlking's got his sights set on Dana, but does he only seek to kill her, or does he have something much darker in mind?

Glimmerglass was one of my favourite reads from last year. I'm not, or at least I certainly wasn't back then, a big fan of Fae centric books, but because I liked Jenna's adult books, I decided to give Glimmerglass a chance and I loved it! So I was really excited for book 2 and it didn't really disappoint. Dana is more sure of herself in Avalon now, with a little understanding of what's going on around her. Things aren't easy for her though, being kept in what is basically a cave and only being allowed out with at least one bodyguard. When the Erlking makes his interest in her known, things become more dangerous still. But Dana isn't very good at staying locked down as her father would like.

Shadowspell gets off to a great start and from chapter two never really lets up on the intensity. I feel so bad for Dana a lot of the time because she doesn't have many people she can count on, everyone seems to have their own objectives and uses for her. But she's a strong girl too and I love how Dana does everything she can for those she cares about, even if it means putting herself at bigger risk.

I really enjoyed the addition of the Erlking and the Wild Hunt to this book. I admit that before hand I wasn't certain I would because of the suggestion that he would be after Dana's heart rather than her life. But actually the role he plays in the book works extremely well and the tension level rose instantly just from the mention of his name. I love the mythology employed to this series and the mystery that surrounds it all. Because Dana knows very little about her heritage still, so learning alongside her works very well for me. There is plenty of intrigue and a lot of questions in need of answers. There are a few things left from Glimmerglass given answer here, which is good, but there is still plenty left unanswered.

However, while I did love Shadowspell and have a very hard time putting it down (had I not started it at midnight, (dumb I know!) I'd have read it in one sitting), there is one aspect to this series that makes me uneasy. The romantic sub-plot. Now, thankfully, it is (for the most part) a sub-plot and doesn't intrude too much on the rest of the story, which I do completely love. But I am not enjoying the romance side of things at all at this point. The love interest, Ethan, did something in book 1 which made me very uneasy with him and while he then did something to partially redeem himself at the end of Glimmerglass, I was left with the suspicion that I could well end up not enjoying the continuation of that romantic involvement in Shadowspell. Sadly, that came true. It's not often when reading that I get a slightly queasy feeling when reading a romantic plot, even if I'm not fully enjoying it. But that's exactly what I get here. I'm not a fan of Ethan and I'm not completely thrilled with Dana's handling of him either. I understand why Dana is the way she is with him, but that doesn't mean I like it. I also wasn't thrilled at potential romantic developments with two side characters (no names for spoilers sake) and add them together and any time the love subject came up, I wasn't happy and those uneasy feelings got worse as the book wore on, not better. I was left with a little, tiny bit of hope on one side at the end, and a lot of dread on the other. I'm hoping that Sirensong (book 3) clears things up some.

My issues with the romantic plot are enough to stop me giving the book completely full marks, but if you took that away, it'd be a damn near perfect read. Because there is so much tension, so much mystery and (again, taking away the romantic plots) very well drawn characters. I love the world building and how the overall arc is developing. Dana still faces massive odds and I'm really looking forward to seeing where book 3, Sirensong (out July 2011) takes her. Just not where it takes her romantically speaking... Still, it's a fantastic read and I'd highly recommend the series.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland

Diana Rowland's site
Series: Kara Gillian #3
Review for books 1 and 2
Copy obtained: bought
Release date: 4th Jan 2011 (US)
Publisher: DAW
Rating: 4.5/5

My name is Kara Gillian and I'm a homicide detective . . .
But that's not all. I sense the "arcane" in our world, and there's quite a bit of it, even in Beaulac, Louisiana. I'm also a summoner of demons, which comes in handy now that I work on a task force that deals with supernatural or paranormal crimes. My partners, Ryan and Zack, are attractive and smart FBI agents, but they're not summoners, which sometimes makes it tough for them to understand what I'm dealing with.
To complicate things even more, I managed to get myself into a "situation" with one of the most powerful of demons - Demon Lord Rhyzkahl - who, in exchange for saving Ryan's life, struck a bargain with me that definitely works better for him. It doesn't help that this beautiful demon lord finds me attractive - something Ryan doesn't appreciate. And I know Rhyzkahl has something on Ryan, but so far I can't find out what.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to solve a string of murders that are somehow tied together by money, sex, rock music and...mud. But how can I concentrate on the case when I'm not even sure who - or what - my partners are?

I loved the first two books of this Kara Gillian series so of course I was super excited for Secrets of the Demon to be out. I love the blend of crime procedural with the paranormal side of demons and summoning. I also find Kara very refreshing with her down to earth, slightly jaded nature, her sense of humor and hidden vulnerability also help make her very likable and easy to relate to. All of that greatness is carried on and developed in this third book.

Secrets of the Demon gets off to a strong start with Kara, Ryan and Zach tasked with protecting a young new star singer after she received death threats which had a demonic theme. All fairly simple, straight forward, in theory. Except, Kara has never seen or heard of the creature that attacks the girl. And things only get stranger and more twisted after a body is found.

What I love is that while these books don't always have the fastest pace, they're flipping hard to put down. It builds form a steady, but not slow start, twisting and turning always gaining intensity before reaching a high at the end. You think you've got it worked out, or parts of it at least, and then SMACK! Something completely unexpected happens/is revealed and you're left gaping and trying to fit it all together again. Also, Diana has a way of dropping these little teasing sentences in just so, no preamble, no explanation, but they make me do a double take and wish like hell I could flip through pages to find out exactly what those statements are about. It's frustrating, brilliant and I can't seem to get enough of it. I am such a glutton for punishment...

Secrets of the Demon builds on books 1 and 2 very nicely as well as being a great book in it's own right. Crime plot wise, it stands alone, character wise it doesn't. Well, it probably could be read as a standalone as the important parts are refreshed, but I'd recommend reading them all in order. There is some great character development through out the book, particularly with Kara's relationships with, well, actually with pretty much everyone around her. All very different and all equally as important as the next and I love seeing where some of these friendships and otherwise are heading. There have been a few little things throughout books 1 and 2 which have left questions and there are a few answers here in Secrets. But hell if there aren't more questions in the end! And it's a hell of an ending. It's one of those EVIL cliff hangers that I seem to love and loathe equally. Because it's perfectly done, it's not over built, it's just there. Another big smack in the face. My copy of the book was very lucky not to get thrown at the wall! Suffice to say, bring on book 4! Adored Secrets of the Demon, halfway consider the author evil, but I want more so it can't be a bad thing right? ;) Love this series, it is unquestioningly one of my favourite adult series around, and one of the best written I think as well. If you've not tried them yet, go do so, starting with book 1, Mark of the Demon.

Reading Resolutions Winner!!

First off let me say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who entered and helped spread the word. And a bigger welcome to all the new followers!! Follower count jumped from 192 to 350 in a week with this giveaway and that is just insane. Seriously. Thank you for the support and I hope you all enjoy the content I offer. I'm sorry that I can't offer more than 1 prize here!

Now, the winner, chosen by is . . .

Jess Ring!


Jess has already been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Thank you again to everyone who entered, for all those who didn't win, I hope I can bring you another chance to win something soon!

Monday Wrap Up [1]

I've decided that as part of my attempt to get organized on the blog this year, that I'd post a weekly round up of my posts from the previous week, and mention what's coming up in the following one. Only way I can mention stuff coming up, is if it's already sorted, or half sorted at least! So I'm hoping this idea will help me stay ahead of myself and also give you guys an easy look at anything you may have missed over the past week as well. So welcome to my first Monday Wrap Up!

Sunday Jan 2nd: Review of Crave by Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns. This was a book that went straight to my heart. It's a fantastic YA vampire story, with a nice twist in that it's the human girl who needs blood. Highly recommend you check this one out!

Monday Jan 3rd: Review of My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey. The first book in the Drake Chronicles series really won me over with it's sassy and sometimes serious nature.

Tuesday Jan 4th: a release day post for Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. Includes the trailer and a link to my review and I basically tell *coughordercough* you all to go buy it ;)

Wednesday Jan 5th: Nayuleska shares some Anime and Manga recommendations. I confess I've never tried either, but I'm happy that Nayu can speak to any of my readership who do :)

Thursday 6th Jan: Mini review of Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen. This is a ghost story where I found the side characters stood out a little better than the main character. For me at least, but it's still a really good read and I'd recommend it.

Friday 7th Jan: Another mini review, this one of Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur. The first book of her Damask Circle trilogy won me over easily, I loved it.
I also posted a little mention of the slightly edited blog design. Which after about 4 or 5 different headers, I'm finally very, very happy with! I hope you guys like it as well, but if you don't, I've no problem with that feedback either!

Saturday 8th Jan: In My Mailbox [14] - aka the week I lost my head and broke my credit card ;) I did though, get LOTS of exciting titles!

Sunday 9th January: Blog Tour for Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling. Contains the trailer and my review of the book, which I loved! I'm not often a fan of fantasy (urban fantasy I adore though!) but this one had me won over within a couple of chapters. Fantastic book!

This coming week will see me reviewing:
Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland. The third Kara Gillian book, which is awesome but with an infuriating huge cliff hanger! (review coming later today)
Shadowspell by Jenna Black. The second book in the Faeriewalker series, which would be pretty perfect, if not for a few issues with the romantic plot.
Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey. The second book in the Drake Chronicles series is one I liked, but didn't love as much as book 1, My Love Lies Bleeding [Hearts at Stake in the US].

Reading wise this week I'm hoping to manage Entangled by Cat Clarke, Forsaken by Jana Oliver and One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen, as well as finishing my current read of Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells.

Should be a good week! Hope you all have a good one too :)