Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Red Glove by Holly Black

Holly Black's site
Series: Curse Worker's #2
Copy obtained: e-ARC S&S Galley Grab
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: April 19th
Rating: 4/5
SPOILER WARNING Big spoilers for book 1 ahead, no spoilers for Red Glove.

Curses and cons. Magic and the mod. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth - that he's the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything - or anyone - into something else.
That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.
When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue - crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too - they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone - least of all, himself?
Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

I adored White Cat, found it a very refreshing read with a male protagonist, conmen and magic, and thoroughly enjoyable as well. I was left craving book 2, so I was very excited to find myself lucky enough to have an e-ARC copy of it. But while I do love Red Glove, I didn't love it as much as White Cat. I suspect this is in part to me having to read it over 5 days thanks to exhaustion rather than the usual 1 or 2, which is very unfortunate.

It's been a few months since Cassel's life fell apart when he realised his rare ability as a transformation worker, and how he'd been betrayed and used by his brothers. Now he's starting his new year at school and while he's certainly not walking away from his life of minor crime, or his family's much deeper one, he's looking forward to things being more normal. But then one of his older brothers turns up dead, and the Feds start asking questions. Plus, he's still having to deal with the fall out of his mother cursing the girl he loves to love him back. And while Cassel would love to take advantage, he knows Lila will hate him when the curse wears off. Nothing is simple for Cassel, and it only gets worse as more secrets are revealed.

There is a lot going on in Red Glove, many different little plots all get twisted together and keep making life very complicated for Cassel because he can't straighten one thing out, without it interfering with another. While it probably reads smoother and less disjointed when read in bigger chunks than I managed, I found it a little bit off putting. I love Cassel, he's such a refreshing character for not really being a good guy, but certainly not being a bad one. He has to make some really hard decisions and he opens up a lot of big secrets, putting himself in big danger repeatedly throughout Red Glove. But I sometimes wondered how he came to the conclusions he did. There is plenty of secrecy layered in to the book for sure, and most of it works very well, but sometimes I found it frustrating instead.

That said, I did love some of the directions the book took. Cassel grew a lot through the book dealing with some of the issues and learning to trust others, something that does not come easy to him. And ultimately, it is a really great story and it left me craving more. There is plenty of magic and deception, some great humor and some moments where I just ached for Cassel as well as some really big surprises! Some of those twists really came out of nowhere and work very well! While I'd say I love White Cat more, I did still end up really enjoying White Cat and I'm very excited for the third book, Black Heart. I'd highly recommend this series!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah Moskowitz site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: e-ARC S&S Galley Grab for review
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: April 19th
Rating: 5/5

"Noah's happier than I've seen him in months. So I'd be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It's not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah's happiness because of a kiss?"

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family's beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive...

First off, that blurb (taken from Goodreads) is misleading because it implies a heavy romantic focus. That is not the case at all, it's very much a focus on family. I hadn't read Hannah's previous book, Break, when I read the ARC for Invincible Summer, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from it. But whatever my vague expectations were, they were not what I got. What I got, was an emotional, heart breaking, kind of strange, and ultimately fantastic read!

Chase is almost 15 at the start of the book, and we join him as he and his siblings are arriving at their beach house as they do each summer. We're introduced to the family, and the next door neighbours who they've been friends with their whole lives. They always spend their summers messing around together. But as Chase is growing up and dealing with more issues, he sees things changing.

Invincible Summer only tells their story over the summers. Once the summer is over and they leave the beach house, it skips forward a year to them arriving the next one, covering 4 summers. It's an interesting choice for telling the story, but it works perfectly. You get told little snippets of Chase's life, and his family, away from the beach house but it's clear how much the place means to him and that he only really seems to feel alive at the beach, his real home as it were. I completely love the strange, screwed up, family dynamics here. Chase has an older brother who's always running away; a younger sister who acts like she's about 30; a younger brother who is deaf which creates it's own issues; and there's the baby sister who their mom is pregnant with at the start of the book. And there are issues with the parents as well. Throw in the friends next door who feature very heavily in Chase's thoughts and world as well, and you get even more interesting events.

No matter what's going on, it's all utterly engrossing and very, very intense. There is the odd laugh out loud moment, and some sweet moments that really made me smile. But a lot of the time I was aching for Chase. So young and so old at the same time. Very lost in many ways, trying to figure out what growing up means and where he fits in his family, how they all fit together. It's heart breaking in it's realness, even with the sometimes strange moments and connections. There are some almost surprisingly deep moments from Chase as well through a philosophy book he discovers and becomes somewhat obsessed with.

I could barely stop reading Invincible Summer once I started. It's intense, beautiful, powerful, gritty and raw. Ultimately heart breaking. I was in floods of tears through the last quarter of the book. It was a refreshing read in many ways, with the focus on family, not romance and with the way it's told as well. The blend of Chase's thoughts, screwed up family and philosophy. I was completely captivated by the narrative and characters. How this one family connected and fell apart through good times and bad. If you like gritty YA's, then this is a must read. It is easily one of my favourite reads of the year so far and one I'd highly recommend. Just amazing!!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

World of Happy by Giles Andreae book reviews Part 2

The reviews I'm doing for Claire here, until the end of April will be about the World of Happy books. These books will be published in April. Egmont very kindly set me the whole set (that was a huge surprise!). They are such wonderful books, full of messages that readers of all ages can relate to. It's aimed at children 3 years and older, but I think deceptively simple messages are ones that everyone should know about. I've decided to review these in parts because the messages in all of them are really important and valuable. I love the simple and uplifting illustrations with their funky colours. I didn't realise that these books were short animations on CBBC channel! How cool is that! For Part one which looks at The Little Penguin, Two Monkeys and The Elephant and the Spider click here.

Planet of the Bears

4th April 2011, Egmont
32 pages, Paperback
Review copy 


Summary from Egmont
The Bears had all the STUFF they needed. Yet they still wanted MORE.
But then one Clever Bear said, "Look! Our planet's DYING! I think the STUFF is killing it, my friends."
"But Bears NEED STUFF," the Bear's all cried.
"Then why are you not HAPPY?" the Clever Bear replied.
And so begins a story about KINDNESS and JOY - an uplifting little treasure for the whole family to share.
World of Happy... because life is FUN!

Materialism can be a huge downfall in our time. There's always a newer, better version to buy. I'm not saying that we shouldn't buy anything. That's not the aim of this book either. The point is to be aware of the world around us. Using electricity, buying things has an impact on the environment. As long as we give something back to the planet, there's no harm in buying whatever we want. Our planet is precious, and it deserves to be pampered. I loved the concept of the heart of the planet in this book. 

A story about Looking After Our World. My name is............ and I think the world would be happier if.......... 

Cow Party

4th April 2011, Egmont 
32 pages, Paperback
Review copy


Summary from Egmont
A party was announced to find the King of Cows a QUEEN.
The lady cows all said, 'We MUST look GORGEOUS! Let's paint ourselves as BRIGHT as we can be!"
But there was ONE cow who remained... just BROWN. "I want the king," she said, "to KNOW me as I AM".
And so begins a story about LOVE (and DANCING!) – a joyous little treasure for the whole family to share.
World of Happy... because life is FUN!
Cows have a special meaning to me. Besides from seeing them most days on my way to work, a dear friend of mine is cow mad. She's going to get this book! The message of this book is to be yourself. If you try to be like other people, you aren't being yourself and you usually don't feel comfortable. Finding out who you really are takes time, and a lot of courage, especially if what makes you you makes you stand out from the crowd. But that's why true friends will like you, and your future partner/husband/wife. Try not to be a sheep, following what everyone does without thinking whether you want to be that way. 

A story about Love (And Dancing). My name is.......... and my favourite dancing songs are.....................

The Knitting Gorilla

4th April 2011, Egmont
32 pages, Paperback
Review copy 


Summary from Egmont
After six beautiful daughters, the Big Gorilla finally had a SON.
"You will grow up to be BIG and FIERCE, just like your daddy!" he said proudly.
But the Little Gorilla grew up to be... small... and gentle... and not like his daddy at all.
And what he liked doing most... was KNITTING.
And so begins a story about BEING YOURSELF - a joyous little treasure for the whole family to share.
World of Happy... because life is FUN!
I love this book for many reasons. It has a purple colour theme. It is about knitting, which is a hobby I enjoy. Unusually it is about a boy who knits. Males do knit, but it's not as common as females knitting. I think this is really important because it shows that not everyone matches up to people's expectations. That doesn't mean they aren't any good - they excel in the skills that they develop over time. Sometimes parents have an idea of what their children will be like, but the outcome can be quite different. 

A story about Being True To Yourself. My name is.......... and things that make me who I am are.................

Come back in two weeks, when on 6th April I'll review The Ministry of Niceness, The Dog Machine, and The Dance of Wallowy Bigness! 

Friday, 18 March 2011

Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead's site
Series: Dark Swan #3
Publisher: Zebra (US) Bantam (UK)
Release date: 22nd Feb (US) / 31st March (UK)
Rating: 2.5/5
Spoiler Warning! Spoilers for previous books ahead!! (And spoilers for IC, but they're whited out below with another warning before them).

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear...

Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown's ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation - one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril...

I've been a big fan of all of Richelle's series, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Dark Swan series and I was really excited for Iron Crowned. Sadly, it did not live up to expectation for me. Before I read a couple of my friends who'd gotten their hands on it faster told me it was awesome, one of Richelle's best books, but it just didn't work for me. I can't say too much without giving away spoilers, so for once I will split this review in two, spoiler free, and then a spoiler section underneath which you'll need to highlight if you want to read it. I'd advise you don't unless you really don't care about major spoilers, or you've already read the book!

Eugenie is spending more and more time in the Otherworld, having to take care of her kingdom in the war but she's still a very reluctant monarch and is hoping to end the war without further bloodshed. There are so many twists and turns through Iron Crowned as Eugenie tries to find an end for the war and figure out her personal life, it should have felt fast and intense. Instead, I repeatedly found myself getting irritated with Eugenie, Dorian and Kiyo. Several of the side characters came as a breath of fresh air when they appeared, including Jasmine who's always seriously irritated me in the past. I actually felt for her more than any other character in Iron Crowned.

There were a couple big surprises to me in Iron Crowned, and they worked fairly well. The ending certainly leaves a lot of questions for what will come next, and I am curious to see where it all goes. It did have some good moments as well, it wasn't all bad, and I think Iron Crowned will work very well for a lot of people. Certainly one to make your own mind up about, if you've enjoyed the previous two books. Some of the character development is good, but a lot of it felt like a backwards step, or just a role reversal repeat of events that have already happened. Previously I'd enjoyed the Dorian/Eugenie/Kiyo love triangle (a rarity for me), but here it did nothing but irritate me. Mostly, I've just no idea what Eugenie was thinking a lot of the time. Her decisions about everything (be it about her kingdom, her divided loyalties, her men) so often being a case of act first, regret and ask questions later, got tired fast. I also felt there was a lot more sex in the book than either of the two previous ones, and I think virtually all of it was completely unneeded to advance the plot, which is something that tends to annoy me in UF. In PNR it's fine, but not something I expect (or want) from the Dark Swan series.

Overall Iron Crowned isn't a bad book, it has it's moments and it held my attention reasonably well. But it wasn't a book I enjoyed. Too much just irritated me rather then being an enjoyment. I'm pretty sad about that really because normally I love Richelle's work, she's one of my favourite authors. Can't always work for everyone though and I'm sure plenty will love Iron Crowned for the reasons that didn't work for me!

Now, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!! Highlight them to read them, read at your own risk. Specifics on why IC really didn't work for me:

Enough with the freaking back and forth between Kiyo and Dorian already!! Kiyo betrayed her, so she dates Dorian. Dorian betrays her, so she dates Kiyo again, his past betrayal forgotten. Kiyo betrays her again so she's begging Dorian for help and likely will take it in the next book, despite knowing he's got ulterior motives still.

Dorian. His betrayal wasn't actually that bad. Don't get me know, I understand why Eugenie was furious and all, and felt seriously betrayed. But he has always, always had ulterior motives and was going to show his true colors sooner rather than later. So what he did came as no surprise at all to me. I don't like him too much right now, but as a character he is fascinating.

Kiyo. Well I've thought he was a jerk and haven't liked him since about mid way through Storm Born. He did nothing to warrant Eugenie going back to him, and then he just got worse showing his true loyalties towards the end. How he reacted to Eugenie's news and decision was shocking and I still find it really hard to believe that he reacted so badly, to be willing to kill her. I may have never liked him, but I did think he loved her. Apparently not the case.

Eugenie. The back/forth with her was irritating enough, how she switched between guys based on who'd pissed her off that day. But I also found her continued apathy towards really stepping in to her role as queen really irritating. Her unwillingness to learn more about things was something I thought had been done with in Thorn Queen. I understood her indecision about what to do about her pregnancy, and I'm glad she's going the way she is. It's about the one thing about her that didn't annoy me at one point or another. Her taking over another land is something I'm not happy about either. So much for her not wanting power. And she's barely interested in the Thorn Land, so having another? Her divided loyalty between the human world and the otherworld is really starting to annoy me. I understand it, but I think she kind of needs to suck it up. If she won't give her kingdoms up (which she won't) then she needs to stop moaning about them, and how she wishes things could be simpler again and such, and deal with what she has. I thought she was doing that in Thorn Queen, but no, it continues.

Finally, I thought the hunt for the Iron Crown would be a big deal, but honestly, it wasn't really. Lots of action involved, but it was over and found quickly, then it was just Eugenie refusing to use it. Until she did. Which I wish she hadn't. The ideas behind the crown though, and how the fey fear it was actually an idea I really liked. It just fell flat for me.

...okay, that little rant makes me feel a little better. Would love to hear your comments, agree or disagree etc, be warned for those who don't want to read spoilers, that they may end up in the comments!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

New Pretties!!

Lots of awesome cover reveals lately. Here's just a few of them, and what I think of them!

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer - paperback edition out in June - Goodreads
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer - to match the new pb of Nightshade, the Wolfsbane hardback cover got a redesign, out 26th July - Goodreads

I really like both of these. I thought the original Nightshade cover was pretty, but after reading it, didn't think it looked remotely like Calla and it didn't suit the book. And unlike most, I wasn't impressed with the Wolfsbane cover either. But I really love these. More simple, but dark and beautiful. I particularly love the Nightshade cover with the purple and how both Calla's human and wolf side are shown, and the eye is awesome. The Wolfsbane cover doesn't have the same drama to it, but I still think it's pretty.

Crossed by Ally Condie - sequel to Matched out Nov 2011 - Goodreads

I completely love this cover!! I love the Matched cover, simple and striking. This is more so with Cassia breaking out of the bubble. Still simple, matches Matched, still eye grabbing and beautiful. Plus, blue is my favourite color. Seriously awesome.

Living With The Dead by Kelley Armstrong - new UK pb edition The Otherworld #9 out 3rd Nov 2011 - Goodreads

I love the new UK covers for this, one of my favourite series, even though it happens to be the only Otherworld book I didn't enjoy. I'm not really sure what the tornado has to do with anything, but it's a striking cover and I still love it far more than the original version. For comparison, here's all the old UK Otherworld covers and the new ones below (click to see them bigger). Which do you prefer? I'd love to know!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

In My Mailbox [21]

IMM is weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This is for the past two weeks because I didn't do an IMM last week.

ARC of Chosen by Blood by Virna Depaul - Goodreads
From Virna, thank you!

Swapped by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja - Goodreads
From Clover at Fluttering Butterflies, thank you!

Clarity by Kim Harrington - Goodreads

Also bought season one of The Vampire Diaries, which I hadn't watched before, now totally in love with it!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

World of Happy by Giles Andreae book reviews Part 1

The reviews I'm doing for Claire here, until the end of April will be about the World of Happy books. These books will be published in April. Egmont very kindly set me the whole set (that was a huge surprise!). They are such wonderful books, full of messages that readers of all ages can relate to. It's aimed at children 3 years and older, but I think deceptively simple messages are ones that everyone should know about. I've decided to review these in parts because the messages in all of them are really important and valuable. I love the simple and uplifting illustrations with their funky colours. I didn't realise that these books were short animations on CBBC channel! How cool is that!

The Little Penguin

4th April 2011, Egmont
32 pages, Paperback
Review copy


Summary from Egmont 
There was once a little penguin who was FRIGHTENED of the water.
"This is no way for PENGUINS to behave,' said his father.
"Be gentle," said his mother, "for ALL of us have fears that others may find hard to understand... Come, Little Penguin. Come into the WATER with me".
And so begins a story about BRAVERY and TRUST - a joyous little treasure for the whole family to share.
World of Happy... because life is FUN!
Life isn't easy. There are so many things which are frightening, which other people do without thinking twice. I could understand the Little Penguin's fears - they are ones I'd have if I was him. His mother points out the happier side of the water, focusing on the positive which always outweigh the negative. It's hard to be brave on our own, but with someone supporting us, just as the Little Penguin had his mother, we can take those scary first steps and be successful. 

What I like about all the books is that at the front it says what the book is about, and then gives space for the reader to write about the theme of the book. I'll give the example for each book

'A story about being brave. My name is ...............  and I did something really brave when..........' 

Two Monkeys

4th April 2011, Egmont
32 pages, Paperback
Review copy 


Summary from Egmont
There were two monkeys who grew up TOGETHER. One was a prince, and one his servant boy.
But, as the Prince grew older, the Queen decided that he should keep more PRINCELY company.
"I love you MORE," the lady said right back.
And soon the Prince FORGOT his first and TRUEST friend.
And so begins a story about TRUE FRIENDSHIP - a joyous little treasure for the whole family to share.
World of Happy... because life is FUN!
They say love makes the world go round - so does friendship! Without friends, well, life is a very dark place, as the Prince finds out when the Queen gives a command which makes his so called friends disappear. True friends will always be there for each other, even if they get ignored for a while or treated badly. 

A story about True Friendship. My name is............ and my best friends are called .........................

The Elephant and The Spider

4th April 2011, Egmont 
32 pages, Paperback 
Review copy 


Summary from Egmont
There was once an elephant who was most TERRIFIED of spiders.
If she even came NEAR a spider, she would shriek and HOP in a most UNBECOMING manner.
"This will not DO," said the ELEPHANT one day. So she took a JOURNEY into HERSELF.
And so begins a story about COURAGE and HOPE – a joyous little treasure for the whole family to share.
World of Happy... because life is FUN!
Fears. All of us fear something. Some of us fear more things than others (my list is rather long!). It can be a fear of a creature, an object, or an event/circumstance. To others the fear may seem irrational, but to the person it is a huge deal. Fears can't always be conquered, but when they are faced there's a wonderful sense of achievement. 

A story about Overcoming Your Fears. My name is .............and hard things I am proud of doing are...........

Come back in two weeks time, when on 23rd March I'll be reviewing Planet of the Bears, Cow Party & The Knitting Gorilla!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


I know I was meant to do this yesterday, but I was busy fighting off panic attacks all day and didn't get around to it. Oh well. So, without more waiting, here are the two winners of the YA Contemps Giveaway, picked with the use of

Mrs DeRaps 



Congrats! Both winners have been emailed and have until Friday 11th March to get back to me with their choice and mailing info so I can get their books on the way, or I'll pick new winners.

Huge thanks to everyone who entered!! I will have a new giveaway soon for a preorder of one of my favourite reads of the year so far, Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz, in a week or so, if you didn't win this time, maybe you'll be lucky then!

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Brenna Yovanoff's site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: UK Book Tours
Publisher: Razorbill (US), Simon Pulse (UK)
Released: Sept 2010 (US), Jan 2011 (UK)
Rating: 4/5

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice his bass or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag heaps and find his rightful place - in our world, or theirs.

I wasn't sure that The Replacement would really be my kind of book, but I actually ended up really enjoying it. Mackie is not human, but he's been raised to be. He is dying now and discovering just how strange his town really is. Mackie always knew he wasn't normal, but he didn't know what he really was. Just that he had to hide in plain sight for fear of what would happen to him otherwise. No standing out, getting noticed. Being invisible is something Mackie has been very good at. But now he has the attention of Tate. A girl who's little sister has gone missing and Tate is determined to figure it out and get her back, and she's starting by asking the one person she believes could know more than he'll say. And the attention of the other beings who live below Gentry, things no one will talk about or believe in, but constantly ward against.

I found Mackie easy to get on with and I really like him. He's not a hero, he actually backs away from certain things pretty easily. But he does want to do the right thing and agonizes over it. Mackie may not be normal, but he's plenty real enough. I think his feelings of displacement are something any teen could relate to. Tate is a really awesome character as well. Strong willed and stubborn, willing to do whatever it takes to get her sister back. I love how she pushes and challenges Mackie. Both of them, but Mackie in particular, really grow throughout the book as they deal with new obstacles and issues. There is a little romance between the two, but it's very much a sub plot and much to my joy, there are no undying declarations of love. Plenty of lust, but no love. Something very refreshing. I love the slightly awkward, but realistic drawing of their whole relationship, well before romance becomes an issue and afterwards as well. I also really loved Emma, Mackie's older 'sister,' and his best friend, Roswell.

Gentry itself is pretty creepy. At first you get the impression it's an average town, but quickly it takes on its own eerie sense of otherness. And that's before you even meet the dancing dead girls underground! They are very creepy, and very well drawn. I got somewhat sucked in to their world and had that sense of morbid fascination, I wanted to know more and go exploring.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It's not particularly fast paced, but it's not slow either and it was a very enjoyable read. Eerie, creepy, and beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Good characters and great worldbuilding. The intense ending really kept me reading and wishing there was more! Very good read and one I'd recommend.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs' site
Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Copy obtained: bought, hb
Publisher: Ace (US), Orbit (UK)
Released: March 1st (US), March 3rd (UK)
Rating: 4.5/5

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shape shifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any other of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...

I love the Mercy Thompson series, it is easily one of my all time favourites. It's got very well developed characters, engaging storylines and each book brings something new to her world. And Mercy herself is one of my top favourite characters. So it goes without saying I was very excited to get my hands on River Marked, and it did not disappoint at all!

River Marked sees us, and Mercy, learning a lot about her Native American background and what her being a coyote shifter means. It also sees Adam and Mercy mostly on their own, away from the pack, dealing with a river monster, a creature huge and deadly, that some how connects with what Mercy is learning about her heritage. While in some ways I missed seeing more of the rest of the pack and the other excellent side characters, I really enjoyed seeing Adam and Mercy more on their own for once and getting to meet some very interesting new characters. I thought before hand that I'd like getting in to Mercy's heritage and learning it alongside her, but I actually loved it! I really enjoyed the direction the book took and how the plots twisted together.

Mercy has changed a lot over the course of the series, and it really shows in River Marked. I love how she's changed, through her relationships with Adam, the pack and her other friends like Stefan, and also by the events she's been through. River Marked shows us a more emotional side of her than we've really seen before, and also shows the strength of her relationship with Adam. And while we don't see too much of the rest of the beloved side characters, they still have some little developments going on in the back ground. I'd be very surprised if Stefan doesn't end up playing a more central role in the next book with some of the snippets we have here.

Overall, River Marked has to be my joint favourite of the series alongside Iron Kissed. It's much softer than IK in some ways, but it's still got a lot going on, plenty of tension and an ending I thoroughly loved! I found River Marked very difficult to put down and easily read it in a day. I'm now just very sad it's going to be roughly a 2 year wait for the next one! Though I'm certain it'll be worth it, I shall have to cope with it by lots of rereading. Slipping back in to Mercy's world is like putting on that favourite comfy hoodie, or pair of jeans, or whatever, and catching up with old friends and learning their latest adventures. Fantastic, gripping storytelling and a wonderful new edition to Mercy's series!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Afterlife by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray's site
Series: Evernight #4
Copy obtained: e-ARC from Net Galley
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: March 8th
Rating: 4.5/5
SPOILER WARNING!! Big spoilers for the previous book ahead!

Having become what they feared most, Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They must return to Evernight Academy, Lucas as a vampire and Bianca as a wraith. But Lucas is haunted by demons, both personal and supernatural. Bianca must help him fight the evil inside him, combat the forces determined to drive them apart - and find the power to claim her destiny at last.

Afterlife, the final book in the Evernight series, picks up exactly where book three, Hourglass, left off. I loved the previous books in the series and Hourglass had a heartbreaking, shocking ending. I was really looking forward to seeing how things worked out for Bianca and Lucas. But as with any final book, I was a little anxious as well, wondering how things would wrap up, if the series would go out on the high it deserved. I shouldn't have worried though.

The book is well paced, lots of twists and turns as you'd expect. There was a lot of loose ends to tie up from the previous books to tie up, and I think they all get tied up well. The odd one is tied up a little quickly before moving on to the next thing, but for the most part they're all given enough time and explanation. Fitting both with what's come before and what's revealed in Afterlife.

There was one moment, very close to the end, that should have had a big emotional impact, but for me fell a little flat. I've really no idea why, but it just didn't quite work for me. But aside from that, it was the heart wrenching, beautiful, fantastic book I wanted it to be. There was a lot of character growth and change, and I really felt for Bianca so many times as she faught to figure out what to do. It was an emotional roller coaster but one I wouldn't have changed for anything. It was a really satisfying ending for a fantastic YA vampire series, that I highly recommend!