Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A Brush of Darkness - Allison Pang

A Brush of Darkness - Allison Pang
Grade: Adult - UF
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her. (Description from Goodreads.)

For the first time in quite a while, I bought a book knowing little about the author or about the story itself; for example, despite having available online sites to do a little digging into ‘A Brush of Darkness’, it wasn’t until I had my copy in front of me that I discovered the main male character was an incubus.

Allison Pang’s world was a strange one. At times I felt like we were being thrown in the deep end and left to figure it all out for ourselves; trying to discover what TouchStones were, how people Contracted with each other, why the OtherFolk (faeries, daemons and angels) needed anchors to the mortal world. However, once you started to understand how everything fit together, it was easy to be swept up in the story.

I found ‘A Brush of Darkness’ to be a fun and interesting read. Abby Sinclair, the narrator of the story, is a troubled young woman, haunted by the death of her mother and the actions she forced herself to take in order to escape having to deal it. It is only through the help of Brystion, a sexy and equally troubled incubus, that Abby finally finds a way to protect herself from the nightmares of her past. And they do this all while trying to solve the mystery of the disappearing succubi and TouchStones (mortals connected to the OtherFolk)

As you would expect, having an incubus as the leading man leaves the story open to sexual tension and lust-driven scenes that lead to romance. Love certainly doesn’t run smoothly for Abby and Brystion; and I was a sad that their moments together were often cut short or interrupted. I was a little confused at Abby and Brystion’s relationship status at the end of the book. It was an odd relationship throughout the entire book, and yet even though Brystion obviously felt strongly about Abby, and Abby had “no regrets”, nothing was resolved. However, I’m sure Brystion’s sexy smile could solve any problem they face in the future.

I’m interested to see where Abby and Brystion’s relationship will go from now and what trouble Abby will undoubtedly get into next. 
4/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/176128247

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Death's Mistress - Karen Chance

Death's Mistress - Karen Chance
Grade: Adult (Urban Fantasy)
Rating: 5/5 Stars 
Dorina Basarab is a dhampir-half-human, half-vampire. Back home in Brooklyn after the demise of her insane Uncle Dracula, Dory's hoping her life is about to calm down. But soon Dory realizes someone is killing vampire Senate members, and if she can't stop the murderer, her friends may be next... 
Wow. I’m surprised so much happened in ‘Death’s Mistress’. I realise action books are often set over a short period of time, but I’m always shocked by how much fighting and trouble can occur in a couple of book days. Like in ‘Midnight’s Daughter’ we learn more about the vampire world, especially the war with the mages and it’s strange to see Dory learning so much about her own family. You would expect a 500 year old dhampir to know all there is about vampires, since she earns a living killing them. But she shocked me by being so smart, yet so clueless about vampires.

I love how dangerous Dory is. While she doesn’t lose control dhampir-style in ‘Death’s Mistress’, no-one can deny that she’s insanely skilled when it comes to fighting; probably because she gets herself into so much trouble. Action and fighting seem to follow her like a shadow, but she just keeps hitting back and survives against all odds.

I’m amazed at how involved the fey are in Dory’s world. They said to be this mysterious paranormal species and their fey objects are dangerous in the human world. But, as we see in ‘Death’s Mistress’, they are the cause of so much damage for the vampires, especially in the Senate with all their political struggles. I love that there are new and old fey issues; Claire’s new royalty status and «Ęsubrand’s obsession with Dory bringing the fey firmly into the story.

I've become addicted to Louis-Cesare. There's something about him that makes me smile. His protective side shines through so much, I can't help but love the French vampire. As much as I was hoping for Dory and Louis-Cesare to get together, I can’t help be love seeing them fight and attempt to avoid each other. The sexual tension is insane and I love it.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.
5/5 stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/187185772

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Midnight's Daughter - Karen Chance

Midnight's Daughter - Karen Chance
Grade: Adult (Urban Fantasy)
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir-half human, half vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.

Now Dory's vampire father has come back into her life. Her Uncle Dracula (yes, the Dracula), infamous even among vampires for his cruelty and murderous ways, has escaped his prison. And her father wants Dory to work with gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare to put him back there.

Vampires and dhampirs are mortal enemies, and Dory prefers to work alone. But Dracula is the only thing on Earth that truly scares her, so when Dory has to go up against him, she'll take all the help she can get ...

I'll admit I had trouble getting into 'Midnight's Daughter', but I'm so glad I stuck with it. Wow, such a fantastic read. Karen Chance has a really unique take on Vampires and Fey. It's nice to see another series out there that combines vampires and faeries. I love seeing a mix of the two, you get to explore the dark and mysterious ways of both creatures, even more so because neither species is assigned a role of good or evil; with Dory and the majority of her vampire family (Mircea, Radu and Louis-Cesare) being good, while Dracula is on the evil side; and similarly for the Fey, we meet both good and evil. It leaves the plot with multiple possibilities when it comes to enemies, especially considering vampires and fey are not the only supernatural beings that walk the earth.

These days I keep running into stories about dhampirs, half-vampires that usually excel at fighting. And while Dory, our dhampir protagonist is also extremely good at fighting, dhampir's in Chance's world are violent oddities that often can't control their urge to fight, making them dangerous and destructive. I love that Dory is rare. Not only is she a dhampir, but she's an old dhampir in the sense that she has lived for 500 years (not particularly old for vampires, but when dhampirs rarely survive because of their blind rages, it's a really impressive achievement to make it that far). It makes her pretty special and skilled.

I was a little confused by the background of the novel. There appears to be a massive war going on with the Vampires and Mages. While the war is mentioned quite a bit, we  never really find out why the war is happening or how it affects Dory and those around her. I know 'Midnight's Daughter' is a spin-off series and the war might be mentioned within Karen Chance's other series, but it left me wondering what was going on. Hopefully more answers will come in the next book.

I wonder what trouble Dory will find herself in next?
4/5 Stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/187185766

Friday, 12 August 2011

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Angels, fallen angels and secret powers. A fantastic book about questioning your role in life and whether you can change your destiny. In Clara's world, Nephilim - those with angel-blood - have a specific purpose in life shown them through visions. But Clara's vision turns out to be more complicated that she could ever possibly imagine.

I've read a lot of angel and part-angel books in the last year and when I read a new one I'm always wondering how different they'll be. I love that 'Unearthly' was definitely a different perspective on an angel-theme. In the past, all stories I've read involving Nephilim emphasise the human aspects of the characters, they'll have extra strength and longer lives but still be human. 'Unearthly' shows the life of part-angels that still resemble angels: wing, powers, a connection to God. It was a nice change to the typical angel books around.

What I'm most curious about is the angel side of the story. Not just because it's different, but there seems to be so much we're missing. Jackson Hole, our story's setting, seems to be hiding more than just beautiful mountain ranges and secret places to learn fishing. There's a lot more angel involvement in the area than Clara (and I'm guessing most readers) thought there was before.

I felt bad for Clara quite a bit of the time. She'd been kept in the dark about her angel heritage for so long, and still when she was working towards her Purpose her mum held back so much information. Not just about the Purpose itself, but about angels, Black Wings, Glory. I can't help wondering how the whole moving to Wyoming and Purpose thing would have gone down in Clara knew more about being an angel. I also got pretty angry at her mum for not letting Clara love who she wants to. While they say you can't fight destiny (or purpose); you can't fight love either.

I like that, for Clara, love is not instantaneous. I feel that her obsession with Christian was partially because of her Purpose, a vision telling her that she feels connected to him. I'm sort of glad she found herself leaning away from that fall-over-yourself-obsession with Christian. I found myself developing quite an obsession with Tucker though. There's something about the Cowboy that made me smile every time he was on the page. Perhaps it was his gentleman personality, or the way he coached Clara through skiing, fishing and hiking lessons; he was so sweet, I adore him. I hope we see more of Tucker in the next book and that he doesn't wind up hurt because of angel rules and history.

4.5/5 Stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/166956907

Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Wither- Lauren DeStefano
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left (Description from Goodreads)

I had pretty high expectations for 'Wither' and I'm happy to say they were met.

DeStefano writes of a world destroyed through medical advances. While the human race no longer fears cancer, they now fear a virus that kills women when they turn 20 and men at 25. Despite the medical advances they seemed to have gain over the years, there is no cure for this life robbing virus. To make matters worse, because of the limited time people have, there is a habit of kidnapping women of all ages to be married off to wealthy men in order to bring about heirs. Rhine Ellery, our leading lady, is one of these brides; sold into wealthy captivity in order to ease the broken heart of her new husband.

I found 'Wither' to be a really confronting novel. Forced polygamy, kidnapping and captivity (and believing that freedom can be pushed aside if you're comfortable in captivity), a 13 year old girl having sex with a 21 year old man (with only Rhine questioning the morality of it) and the unconditional trust given to parents. For me, the hardest part to deal with was the 3 wives.

Linden seemed like a nice enough person, a little weak and unobservant at times, but I had trouble accepting his willingness to have 3 wives. While it wasn't uncommon in his society to take more than one wife, he was content with only one wife while Rose was alive, and yet moved comfortably into the role of husband to 3 more girls while Rose is lying in bed dying from the virus. He floats between Rhine, Jenna and Cecily like they're 3 faces of the same woman. One the listen to and comfort him; one to entertain him; and one to bear his children. I know we were supposed to feel this way, to understand why Rhine was uncomfortable and to hope for her chance to escape, but it was still hard to take in. I was amazed at her ability to resist Linden for so long.

I loved the theme of freedom. Rhine showed so much strength by holding onto the hope of escape and I loved her for not just accepting the role she was placed into because it was the easy way out. I like that the idea of freedom wasn't just about leaving Florida, but also freedom within the house, freedom to talk to whoever she wanted, freedom to love (*cough*Gabriel*cough*).

I love the voice DeStefano has given Rhine. She never comes across as completely happy, even when she's with Gabriel, and it fits so well with the twisted and depressing scenes we're given throughout the book. Rhine doesn't want to be a bride, never wanted to be a bride and is going to do anything she can to be free of this life once again.

I wish there'd been more scenes with Gabriel. I know the role he had towards the end of the book was important in the scheme of things, and the time they had together was enough to show that Gabriel was the one Rhine wanted holding and loving her. But it would have been nice to see more of that develop.

Fabulous book, can't wait for the next one. Hope they find a cure.
4.5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/157593978 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

My Soul to Steal - Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Steal - Rachel Vincent
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.
See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.
And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.
5 days and 4 Soul Screamers books later and I feel lost without more Kaylee, Nash and Tod. I've barely put 'My Soul to Steal' down and I'm already dying for the next one. I can't begin to explain how addictive this series is and how much it has affected me. It's not just an addiction to the teenage paranormal drama, especially the romance between our bean sidhe couple, but an addiction to the Netherworld action and reading about such a different world to what I'm used to. I read a wide range of paranormal books, but bean sidhes, maras and hypnos are not a common focus of YA novels. I love how unique the series is and can't wait to see what species will pop up next.

If something could go wrong, it pretty much did in 'My Soul to Steal'. Relationships waver, people die, fears are exposed, people are possessed by hellions from the Netherworld (And the hellion problem is proving to be a lot more trouble than it was before). It's hard to believe a few teenagers could go through so much trouble in such a short amount of time, but they do and they manage to pull through with most of their sanity still in place.

One of the hardest parts to deal with in 'My Soul to Steal' was the relationships. I'm a very big Kaylee/Nash fan, and I want to see them have a few happy moments together and soon. However, we all know Nash has a history of girls, it's not a secret. But apparently Kaylee's not his first non-human girlfriend. I was under the impression part of the bond formed between Nash and Kaylee was because they could truly be themselves around each other. Now with Sabine around, things get a little tricky. All parties to this odd sort of love triangle - not a real love triangle, because there doesn't seem to be much doubt about who each person wants to be with romantically yet - are in agony, and it gets a bit ugly at times. I found myself ready to yell at a couple of our favourite character for words that were said. Hopefully things will settle down in the next book.

I feel really bad for Kaylee and her understanding of the world she's now in. There are so many new aspects that keep surprising her and the shock that goes through Nash and Tod when she once again doesn't know about the secret non-human parts of life angers me for her. She's been kept in the dark for so many years, disadvantaged in knowledge of her "society". Someone needs to start giving her lessons on other species and not just "How To Be A Bean Sidhe" lessons.

Incredible series so far. Dying for the next one.
5/5 Stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/163596758

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

My Soul to Keep - Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Keep - Rachel Vincent
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.
Until something does.
Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends—one of whom is already hooked.
And so is someone else…

If I thought my emotional responses to Rachel Vincent books ended with the Shifters series I was so wrong. Ms. Vincent has a way of getting you so attached to characters that the slightest hint of heartbreak sends you rushing for the tissue box. The Soul Screamers series so far has been action packed and super intense, and now I can add extremely emotional to that list. 'My Soul to Keep' made me want to scream and definitely made me cry at the end.

Nothing seems to be easy for Kaylee and Nash. You think they've made it past the worst troubles and might get a few moments to themselves, but then something new comes along to crush them. I've got to hand it Rachel, she knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat; never a gap in all that action.

I love that we get introduced to more Netherworld activities and creatures. It's a dangerous world, the Netherworld, and it seems to have a lot more influence over the human world than we know. I like that demons and problems from the previous books have also carried over into 'My Soul to Keep'; the stories keep tying themselves together with more than just bean sidhe/reaper problems. With all the times they've crossed into the Netherworld, it makes you wonder if they'll ever make it past the equivalent of their immediate area. There's got to be so many creatures and places that could cause a lot of trouble in the future.

My worries about *someone* coming between Nash and Kaylee weren't necessary, but *something*...that was heartbreaking. I know it's rare for a relationship to last an entire series without problems, but that doesn't stop me from hoping they'll be relatively happy most of the time. I hope they find a way to work out their issues soon.

Sort of sad we didn't get to see much of Tod this time. While I was wary of him before, I missed him popping in and out of existence, bugging Nash and Kaylee. But he helped save the day, so that definitely made up for his lack of scenes in the beginning. I like how much he cares for the people who he allows to see him. He might hide his emotions most of the time, but he truly cares for his family, Kaylee and especially Addy.

5/5 Stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/163596734

Monday, 8 August 2011

My Soul to Save - Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Save - Rachel Vincent
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.
So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.
The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld - a consequence they can't possibly understand.
Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk... (Description from Goodreads)

'My Soul to Save' is another fantastic and intense book. So much action that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last words are said. Kaylee's learning how to control her new powers, and it's strange because she only actually sung the soul song for one death this time. But it is also really interesting to see how she's adapting to her new life with her bean sidhe powers and living with her Dad for the first time in 13 years.

We get to see more of the world bean sidhes exist within, not just through Kaylee's bean sidhe training with Harmony Hudson, but also through the mysterious Netherworld and hellion involvement in 'My Soul to Save'. What better way to discover the secrets of the Netherworld than by attempting to rescue souls that have been sold to demons?

I love that we got to see a lot more of Tod too. I was right in thinking he's been lonely, and we meet the reason behind it. I'm still a little uncertain about him. He's edgy and dangerous still, but also struggles with hidden emotions and it's nice to see bits of it coming through. I'm not sure what to think about the Reapers though, they seem to have some troubles within their ranks. Someone better look into that.

I couldn't help but get a little annoyed every time Tod interrupted Nash and Kaylee's "alone" time, while you know it's not going to go too far straight away, there's always that hope that the characters will get a bit of privacy. I love Nash and Kaylee together, so I really wanted them to have some fun. I admire how detailed the make out scenes were in this book. Don't get any ideas, they were still relatively tame; but YA books rarely go all out, even though it's obvious you're not going to get an adult-rated "first experience", usually characters just kiss a little and feel faint. I like that Rachel doesn't hide what's obviously on teen minds.

I love the bond Kaylee and Nash have formed. Nash hates when Kaylee's in danger, but rather than fight her about what to do, he sticks by her in order to keep her safe. And who wouldn't want to stay with a sexy guy who can calm you down when you're about to scream (literally)? I still worry that something is going to happen to break them up, I hope I'm wrong.

Loved every word, can't wait to get into the next one.
5/5 Stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/163596681

Saturday, 6 August 2011

My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.
Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.  (Description from Goodreads.)

I had high expectations for 'My Soul to Take', not only because I recently read Rachel Vincent's 'Shifters' series and I've become a huge fan of Ms. Vincent; but also because I've been hearing so many fabulous things about the Soul Screamers series that I had to give it a go. And I'm SO glad I did.

I love that you're barely given a chance to breathe when reading the book. There are no breaks, nothing to slow down the pace of the story, only non-stop action leaving you wondering what could possibly happen next. I adored the paranormal focus of the book, and how different it is from anything I've read before. Bean sidhe (or "banshee") folk lore is something I haven't explored in the past. What I assumed about "banshees" couldn't be more different from what a bean sidhe is and does (for starters, the bean sidhe's cry isn't what causes death, who knew?). I loved experiencing a whole new branch of paranormal fiction, I'm hooked. And knowing there are not just bean sidhes in this world leaves the story open to so many interesting twists and turns (cryptic, trying not to post spoilers).

Despite her special secret powers, Kaylee Cavanaugh is such a normal, down-to-earth narrator. She panics, laughs, has a steady job, cries, feels vulnerable in relationships and has an equal normal female best friend (which often doesn't happen in novels. There are too many out there that limit the female friendships). She also has incredible strength to accept her bean sidhe abilities despite being lied to for so many years. Part of that is probably what she's had to go through over the years: the death of her mother, being passed off to her aunt and uncle instead of living with her dead, and being placed in a mental heath ward for a week (prior to 'My Soul to Take'). She may be new to this paranormal life, but she's dealing with it so well.

As in most novels, I always scope out potential guys who will influence the main girl, the two obvious ones being Nash and Tod.
Nash is awesome, I love him already. He may have a history of going through the ladies, but when he discovers who Kaylee really is you see a side of him that probably doesn't show in his "ladies man" persona. I melted when whispers in Kaylee's ear to calm down her panic attacks. I want to see Nash and Kaylee's relationship continue to grow, and hope nobody will break them up.
Tod is still slightly mysterious. We find out a lot about him, but I feel like we don't know the real Tod yet. He's cheeky and fun, but also seems  really lonely at time. I can't wait to see more of him (but like above, hope he's not going to cause trouble between Nash and Kaylee).

5/5 Stars. Can't wait to move onto the next one.

(Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/163596626 )

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Forsaken - Jana Oliver

Forsaken (The Demon Trappers #1) - Jana Oliver
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps.  The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?(Description from Goodreads)
'Forsaken' is one of my favourite reads for 2011. It is a refreshing change from YA books which are full of vampires and shape shifters. Jana Oliver has created a fantastic world where demons run wild and it is up to trappers like Riley and Beck to help rid to world of their evil. A mix of religion, magic and reanimation; 'Forsaken' is an amazing story with so many unknown areas to be explored, especially when it comes to trapping and hunting. But it's not just demons that are causing trouble; questions to do with meddling angels and uncovering the mystery of the holy water problems still need to be solved.

I love how different, and yet familiar, the demon trapping is. It's hard not to think of 'Supernatural' when demons are mentioned (especially with all the hype around 'Demonland', the demon hunting TV show in Oliver's story). But Oliver's trappers don't have the luxury of fancy cars and easy kills. For them, trapping is a dangerous occupation that can leave so much sadness in its wake. 

It's hard not to feel sorry for Riley. She keeps being put through tests. Testing her position as a trapper in the Guild and testing her ability to handle pain and sadness surrounding friends and family. I think she's an incredibly strong leading lady; who manages tears, laughter and love on a daily basis, as well as juggling mundane human activities (like shopping for clothes and going to school) with the life of a trapper. It can't be easy, but she's pulling through, one step at a time. 

I love that we get to see the world of demon trapping through both Riley and Beck's eyes. The changing perspectives keep the story interesting and full of action, but also give you the chance to be in 2 places at once. Beck and Riley work so well together, can't wait to see more of their interactions. 

In most books there's always a few fabulous guys to fall for, and this one is no different with 3 guys to look out for: Beck, Simon and Ori; all with their own appeals. My personal favourite is Beck, he's amazing; definitely high on my list of book-crushes. There aren't many young guys who would look after a friend's daughter, even when they're not always welcome; not to mention that he seems to be interested in more than just looking after a friend. 

Fantastic book. Can't wait to see what happens next.
5/5 stars

Originally posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/156098750 

Monday, 1 August 2011

Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. 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 the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a 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.

(Description from Goodreads)

When society tells you that without 'the cure' you will be 'diseased' by love, would you believe them? It's hard to imagine growing up without the chance to love, but Lauren Oliver's 'Delirium' shows just that, to be cured means no longer being ruled by unpredictable emotions like Love. 

Lena Haloway has had a rough childhood: a mother who cannot be cured, a dead father and a sister who was momentarily diseased before being successfully cured. And now, living with her aunt and uncle, Lena is desperate for her 18th birthday when she will finally be cured and safe from love. But all that changes when she meets Alex. 

As with most dystopias, I’m amazed at how constricting society is. Walls are placed up everywhere, and it’s strange to see how the majority of the population just accepts that they’re in place for a reason. It’s only a few who question things like why there is an electric fence to keep out the “non-existent Invalids” from the Wilds (the uncured parts of the US); how illegal music sites are managing to pop up online; and why you are forced to pick your future partner from a list of 4 candidates. 

Fear is a main factor for sticking to the rules, and I love how Lauren Oliver uses Lena’s fear to show the transition from a sheltered 17 year old, who wants only to live by the rules of the cured, into someone who wants to fight the cure at all cost. Fear is always present, yet it changes as Lena’s understanding of her world changes; the fear of love becomes the fear of not being able to love. 

I love how much Lena and Alex relax when they're together, like nothing else matters in the world. They're able to let go of all their troubles in each other's arms. It was this connection between Alex and Lena that made me love them so much; being together and admitting they love each other, despite society’s attempts to break them apart with the cure, arranged marriages and segregation from the Wilds. And yet, their relationship was always fragile. You get the feeling that it can’t last forever; that something will happen to tear them apart.

A fantastic story about love, freedom and the right to choose your own life. 'Delirium' is an addictive read, you can't help but fall in love with Lena and Alex and their struggle to overcome society's restrictions on relationships.


Review first posted on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/167235166