Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lover Eternal - J.R. Ward

Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #2)
Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2) - J.R. Ward
Grade: Adult - PNR
Rating: 4/5 stars
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He's the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant to Rhage's protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage's intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves... (Description from Goodreads)

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It was easier to get into 'Lover Eternal'; I was aware of who the characters were and understood some of their backgrounds (although I'm starting to realise I only know the surface of their problems, there are a lot more issues hiding underneath).

I was afraid the series was going to be predictable: A damaged brother, a woman falling for a strange warrior in leather, lessers running around causing trouble and a happy ending. And while I have no problem with this, as the romance and action all differs slightly, and the text is easy enough to lose yourself in, even if it's predictable; I'm pleasantly surprised that there were twists in this book that made me think "Wow, didn't see that coming."

Rhage and Mary's struggle to be together is sometimes heartbreaking and super sexy the rest of the time. There are quite a few obstacles to overcome: Rhage's curse, the beast that explodes from within him whenever he's out of control, and Mary's returned cancer. But the two of them show how strength isn't just about how much weight you can lift; sometimes it's about how well you hold yourself together and fight for what you love, or I guess you could say who you love.

I love that the book doesn't just focus on Rhage and Mary, we see hints of future romances and trouble for the other brothers: Phury's celibacy, Tohr and Wellsie's potential child, Zsadist's fear of being touched and loved, Vishous's ability to see the future and Butch's obsession with Marissa. They've all got problems and I can't wait to get a chance to solve their issues.

I'm still not a fan of the lessers POVs, but at least in 'Lover Eternal' the main guy, Mr.O, was a lot more interesting than Mr.X from 'Dark Lover'; and it looks like we'll be seeing him again in the next book, so I guess I'll be prepared for his involvement in the story.

4/5 stars.
Originally posted on Goodreads

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dark Lover - J.R. Ward

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1) - J.R. Ward
Grade: Adult - PNR
Rating: 4/5 Stars.

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

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams. (Description from Goodreads.)

I read a lot of vampire books; it's not a surprise when I turn up with a new one. What does surprise me though is the way the 'vampire' myths and lore are constantly changing. I don't think I have ever read about similar vampires, not once, everyone is different. And that's true of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. 'Dark Lover' was an amazing start to the series, and I know I'm a few years late and I have friends who rave about the books so I shouldn't have been so shocked by how good it was, but I really did enjoy it.

The Vampires in 'Dark Lover' are not your typical stalk-the-night and prey-on-humans vampires. Sure they do need blood to live and can't come out in the sunlight - one step in those deadly rays and up in smokes - but their survival does not depend on human blood. A male vampire needs the occasional drink from a female vampire's blood to sustain himself (and visa versa for females). I found this concept really interesting. Vampires are paired (male-female) and live off each other; and are able to eat 'human' food like any normal person. Furthermore, they're not considered the 'undead'; that role goes to the lessers, a group of humans who have sold their souls for eternal life and promise to kill vampires. Complete role reversal, it's amazing.

I love Beth and Wrath. Beth, a half-human/half-vampire young woman about to go through the transition into full-vampire and Wrath, a Vampire King in denial of his abilities to lead the vampire population. An unlikely match, especially since most vampires don't consider human worthy beings; but so fun to see them get together. Beth breaks through Wrath's tough shell and Wrath helps her find who she really is.

What is awesome about 'Dark Lover' is that we meet the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the reason for the series’ creation. And I can honestly say I'm looking forward to meetings more of the brothers in future books. They're tough, sexy warriors with troubled lives. I'm really happy that they're letting Butch in too, he's pretty cool for a ex-cop human, sort of like an honorary member of the Brotherhood.

My biggest issue was with the changing POVs. I have no problem with third person stories and I didn't mind switching between Wrath, Beth, Butch...even Marissa. But when we followed Mr.X, a lesser who was out to get all vampires (especially the Brotherhood), I started to get bored. His POV didn't contribute much to the story. While he helped me understand what a lesser was and what they did, his role could have been left out. Occasionally I wanted to skip his scenes; I didn't, because I figured they were included for a reason, and it does make sense at the end; but it wasn't interesting. Luckily the rest of the book made up for it, and more.

4/5 Stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads: Read review here  

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bloodlines - Richelle Mead (review) + Bloodlines Book Club

I'm a big fan of Richelle Mead; have been for a few years now and I reckon I'll pick up anything she writes. If it has her name on it, I'm buying it. So I was thrilled knowing her super awesome Vampire Academy series (VA) was being continued through a spin-off series: Bloodlines.

Yesterday started the "official" Bloodlines-Discussion-Day, as voted on by fans and Penguin Australia. It marked the one month release of Bloodlines and the beginning of Bloodlines Book Club (BBC). I've participated in Penguin Australia's previous VA book clubs and they're a heap of fun, so join in if you've read Bloodlines and if you're new to Richelle Mead pick up Vampire Academy; it's an excellent series.

Blog discussion: Penguin Between the Lines – BBC

Facebook Discussion: Bloodlines – Official Facebook Page

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Bloodlines - Richelle Mead
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy.

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood. (Description from Goodreads)

I’m speechless. Richelle Mead has done it again. A fantastic new series, filled with action and excitement; as well as a cast of characters that we all know and love. It felt like I was greeting an old friend.

I’m so happy to be drawn back into the Vampire Academy world. While it was strange at first to be seeing all these familiar faces without being in Rose’s mind, it didn’t take long to love Sydney’s views just as much. Her organised and controlled way of thinking is so different from Rose’s act-before-thinking approach to life, but you can’t help but love her for it.

I love that ‘Bloodlines’ starts to wrap up the loose ends from the Vampire Academy series. While often leaving us with more questions than answers, we’re on our way to understanding where everyone fits in the vampire world and finding out what happened to so many of our favourite characters (especially Adrian, who was left hanging for a while). My personal opinion to those just started out with Richelle Mead books would be to read Vampire Academy before ‘Bloodlines’. While there is enough information given the ease into the series, the familiarity between characters and the history that has occurred between them would be better understood after reading ‘Vampire Academy’.

Sydney and the Alchemists are in interesting bunch of people. Working to protect the human population from vampires, it’s interesting to see how they reacted around the “evil creatures” that they try to hide. While we were given a glimpse of the Alchemists in Richelle’s first YA series, Vampire Academy, you never realise how strong their convictions are until you’re inside Sydney’s head. I always knew she was against the idea of vampires wielding magic and drinking blood (the actions that make them evil), but I never realised how terrified she was of it all. Sydney shows so much strength in ‘Bloodlines’, pushing through her fears in order to complete the role she’s be trained to do: help protect humans from any contact with vampires.

So much happens in ‘Bloodlines’, Richelle certainly throws us into an action packed book, with multiple plots weaving their way through every moment of the story. I'm still trying to process how I feel about them all, shocked and breathless are my initial reactions; and insanely desperate to see what happens next. And in a typical Richelle style, she leaves us with super extreme cliff-hanger to agonise over in the coming months while waiting for ‘The Golden Lily’ to be released.

An amazing read.
5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads:

Friday, 16 September 2011

In My Mailbox #1

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

This is my first attempt at a book blog meme. I picked 'In My Mailbox' because I've seen it around a lot and because my mailbox has been very busy this week, so I wanted to share some of my buys.

It also happens to be my first attempt at basic HTML stuff: photos, links etc. I haven't quit worked out all the tricks, but I'm getting there; not up to doing anything too fancy just yet. So I'm hoping everything turns out alright.

A bit of a random buy for me. I already own the UK versions of Jana's books, 'Forsaken' and 'Forbidden'. But I was discussing the series with a friend in America, and we discovered that a couple of words/scenes were removed from the UK versions. I decided I had to have to US ones too so I could find these missing scenes...and I think the covers are pretty. You can never have too many copies of a good book.

Shade and Shift - Jeri Smith-Ready
Months ago a friend on Twitter told me to read this series. I looked it up, thought it sounded interesting, but sort of forgot to get it (she also recommended Rachel Vincent's 'Soul Screamers' series, which I put off reading for ages...I will never ignore her suggestions again). Can't wait to start Shade.

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
I've already read (and reviewed) 'Unearthly', but I didn't own a copy. While the Australian cover is pretty too, I originally read Kerrie's copy and she had this pretty, white UK cover; so I had to get it. 


I know almost nothing about 'The Sweet Scent of Blood' except that it has been on my TBR list for over a year. While I wanted to read it eventually, I was in no rush to find it. Walking through Coles yesterday my mum and I stopped at the magazine rack and there was 'The Sweet Scent of Blood' staring at me, telling me to buy I did

Emblaze - Jessica Shirvington
The best book that showed up this week. I have Kerrie to thank for getting me obsessed with Jessica's 'The Violet Eden Chapters' and I was lucky to win an early copy on Facebook on Tuesday. I'm surprised the book arrived already, Hachette's quick to send out prizes.

And that's it for my mailbox this week. 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Forbidden - Jana Oliver

Forbidden (Demon Trappers #2) - Jana Oliver
Grade: YA
Rating 5/5 stars

Riley's beginning to think being a demon trapper isn't all it's cracked up to be. Her dad's been stolen by a necromancer, her boyfriend's gone all weird and she's getting warm and fuzzy feelings for someone who's seriously bad news. It's tempting to give it all up and try to be normal, but that's not an option. Because the demons have plans for Riley. And they're not the only ones. (Description from Goodreads)

Forbidden begins where Forsaken left off. The demon trappers are trying to get reorganized after the attack on their headquarters, and Riley is trying to find who took her father. Then there's the mystery of the fake Holy Water, plus Riley still has demons after her, and her boyfriend is acting all weird. That's a lot for a 17 year old to handle. Luckily she has help from her friends, including the mysterious Ori.

There are a few new characters in this novel (a red haired reporter and the Vatican's demon hunters), but I liked how we learn more about some of the minor characters from Forsaken.

Jana Oliver has created such an amazing world and to see characters that you love grow and mature (BECK!) makes this novel a perfect sequel. I was eagerly turning pages and from around half way through, well, you better hold on because it's twist after twist. There are a lot of confessions and realizations, and poor Riley learns the hard way that not everything is as it seems. Riley makes a lot of mistakes which have major consequences, and I can't wait for the next book to see how she deals with them.

This is one of my favourite series.
5 out of 5.

Originally posted on Goodreads.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Blood Bound - Rachel Vincent

Blood Bound - Rachel Vincent
Grade: Adult - UF
Rating: 5/5 Stars 
By blood, by word, by magic…
Most can't touch the power. But Liv Warren is special— a paranormal tracker who follows the scent of blood.
Liv makes her own rules, and the most important one is trust no one.
But when her friend's daughter goes missing, Liv has no choice but to find the girl. Thanks to a childhood oath, Liv can't rest until the child is home safe. But that means trusting Cam Caballero, the former lover forbidden to her.
Bound by oath and lost in desire for a man she cannot have, Liv is racing to save the child from a dark criminal underworld where secrets, lies, trauma and danger lurk around every corner…every touch…every kiss.
And more blood will be spilled before it's over… (Description from Goodreads)

‘Blood Bound’ is an intense book that tells the story of how a childhood promise to always help and protect best friends can turn into a dangerous game of pain, heartache and fear.

Olivia Warren and Cameron Caballero are Skilled; people born with powers, each with their own specific ability. Despite the many Skills that exist, Liv and Cam are both Trackers, able to draw upon a powerful item and trace it back to the person who it belongs to. Cam works with names, because knowing someone’s name means having power over them. Liv works with blood, pulled by the signature that connected blood samples to their owner. Ex-lovers, Liv and Cam, are forced to work together after 6 years of being apart, to help a friend protect her daughter from being killed; all while trying to work around the control of crime syndicate leaders Jake Tower and Ruben Cavazos, who have an army of Skilled people bound to them by blood; a complicated and risky life to live in.

‘Blood Bound’ doesn’t just keep you on the edge of your seat with its plot, but also with its structure. A first person narration with two narrators; you’re on your toes the entire book, never quite sure who will take over the story in the next chapter. And while Liv’s voice is in control more often than Cam’s, both hold so much power over the story; showing lost love, forbidden love and the desire to be together, all while being caught up in the dangerous war between Tower and Cavazos.

I love how many Skills we come across in 'Blood Bound', there almost seems to be one for everything. A Tracker, Reader (lie detector), Binder (someone who binds others to contracts, usually in blood), Traveller (someone able to use shadows to ‘travel’ anywhere in the world), Seer...the list goes on. We find out about each new Skill as the story progresses, and while all powers have their limitations, it’s hard to not be fascinated by what each Skill can achieve, such as a Traveller being able to find the smallest shadow to escape through. I’d definitely be nervous in the dark knowing someone could come up behind me at any time.

Towards the middle of the book I started forming theories, and a few of them were right; but that only made me enjoy the book more, knowing that exciting plot twists I’d formed in my head were going to actually come true. (It’s sad when you want a certain plot arc to unfold and it doesn’t happen...imagining it in my head is never the same as having the author actually write it down. So well done Ms. Vincent for making my imagination come true). 

I was both happy and sad about the ending. I feel like Liv and Cam's future wasn't completely known; I guess anything can happen, especially with the Skilled involved. But I have a feeling they're not the main characters of book 2 (I'm 90% sure of that). It'll be sad not being in their heads, I've become attached to them over the past couple of days. If they're not the narrators, I hope we still see them in future books, I'd hate for their story to end with 'Blood Bound', although I doubt they'd be gone forever.

An unbelievable read. I can't wait to find out what happens next.
5/5 Stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads.