Thursday, 27 December 2012

Fury's Kiss (Dorina Basarab #3) - Karen Chance

Fury's Kiss (Dorina Basarab, #3)Fury's Kiss- Karen Chance
Grade- Adult UF
Rating- 5 / 5 Stars

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

Dory is used to fighting hard and nasty. So when she wakes up in a strange scientific lab with a strange man standing over her, her first instinct is to take his head off. Luckily, the man is actually the master vampire Louis-Cesare, so he’s not an easy kill.

It turns out that Dory had been working with a Vampire Senate task force on the smuggling of magical items and weaponry out of Faerie when she was captured and brought to the lab. But when Louis-Cesare rescues her, she has no memory of what happened to her.

To find out what was done to her—and who is behind it—Dory will have to face off with fallen angels, the maddest of mad scientists, and a new breed of vampires that are far worse than undead…

Description from Goodreads
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There are some things you are guaranteed when reading a Karen Chance novel. There's going to be plenty of action, awesome side characters, witty dialogue and a scorching romance (where your screaming at the characters to "get together already!") Fury's Kiss had all that and more. And it was the 'more' that surprised me. I wasn't prepared to feel so emotional whilst reading this. There was a large focus on Dory's relationship with her father Mircea (to say their relationship is rocky is an understatement.) Mircea is the love interest in the Cassie Palmer series, and so I've always been his fan, but Fury's Kiss has cemented my love for him. Anything else I say about Dory and Mircea will be too spoilery so you'll just have to read this book to find out about their relationship.
Fury's Kiss begins with Louis- Cesare "rescuing" Dory, and when I say "rescuing" I mean Dory is trying to kill him beacuse she has no memory of who she is, who he is or how she got where she is. (Taken from page 1) "I wasn't sure, as I couldn't seem to remember the fight that had left me bloody and bruised, with a bullet hole in my right thigh and another in my left shoulder. I couldn't remember much of anything else, either, including who the hell I was. But that still wasn't the problem. No, the problem was that I'd woken up next to a vampire. One who was maddengly hard to kill".
And then the story sort of jumps. It isn't until the last few chapters where everything comes together. I'm not sure how Ms Chance does it, but it was done perfectly! I was racing through the pages, desperate to see what would happen next. There was a slight cross over with a Cassie Palmer character making an appearance, which means now I can't wait to see what the consequences of that will be in the next Cassie book.

Fury's Kiss was an amazing, kick-ass, emotional UF read and I can't wait for more. If you're a fan of Kate Daniels series, then you'll love this one.


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Friday, 21 December 2012

After Moonrise - P.C Cast and Gena Showalter

AAfter Moonrisefter Moonrise by P.C. Cast and Gena Showalter
Grade: Adult PNR
Rating: 3.5/ 5 Stars (Averaged out to 3.5 stars)

Possessed by P.C. Cast

a psychic detective who can channel only negative emotions makes Kent Raef good at catching murderers, but bad at maintaining relationships. Then Lauren Wilcox arrives with a most intriguing case: her twin sister has been murdered and is communing with Lauren's spirit - and sharing her body. Raef's the only one who can track the killer and free the spirit. But soon he begins to wonder just which twin he wants to save...and why...

Haunted by Gena Showalter

Artist Aurora Harper is convinced she's witnessed a crime - a murder so brutal she's repressed the memories, only to paint the scene by the light of the moon. Now she needs her new neighbour, Detective Levi Reid, to help her track down the victim - and the killer. Levi's dealing with his own memory issues, but one thing he knows for sure: Harper is meant to be his, and nothing can take her away from him - not in this life...nor in death…

Description from Goodreads
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After Moonrise is a company that deals with hauntings, possessions, and other supernatural mysteries. Their employees are not your normal detectives. They each have special "gifts" which allows them access to the other realm. They take on cases of unsolved murders, talking to the ghosts of the victim and their loved ones, as well as helping ghosts move on to the afterlife.

Possessed is the first book in the After Moonrise novel, and is written by PC Cast.

In Possessed, Kent Raef's world gets turned upside down when Lauren Wilcox enters his office at After Moonrise. Although the police suspects it was accidental, Lauren knows her twin sister was murdered. She knows this because Lauren's twin, Aubrey, is communicating with her. And that's not all. Aubrey is still being tortured by her murderer even after death. Kent must find a way to save both sisters from this killer before its too late.

I really liked the start of this novel. I thought it was pretty solid and a good lead in to what the novel is about. It was intriguing and I liked the idea of psychic detectives that use emotions to find "the bad guy". But where the storyline for the romance was taken, was just a bit too weird for me and I didn't like it. Paranormal Romance novels are my favourite genre. They are my go-to books and so, not liking the romance in this book has really disappointed me. Everything else though I really enjoyed.
3/5 stars

Haunted is the second book in the After Moonrise novel, and is written by Gena Showalter.

The book starts with us meeting Detective Levi Reid. He isn't exactly sure why he moved to his new residency, in the bad side of town, only that he experiences blackouts and one day found himself in his new place. He suspects these blackouts have something to do with being suspended from his work for attacking a suspect. But when his neighbour knocks on his door and asks for his help, all thoughts about his own problems vanish.
Aurora Harper thinks she's a witness to a brutal murder. The reason she only "thinks" this is because when she wakes in the morning it's to find herself with a paintbrush in her hand and a half finished painting of the brutal scene. Her best friend Lana (who works for After Moonrise) convinces her to talk to their neighbour, who is a "normal" detective, and ask for his help.

I really enjoyed this novel. It kept me guessing all the way and I was surprised with the way it ended. I also liked the romance. I'm a sucker for when two people from completely different upbringings get together. Aurora with her formal gowns and Levi with his foster homes couldn't be more different, and yet they are perfect for each other. Probably because Aurora, despite her upbringing, is no princess. I adored Aurora, she has spunk. And Levi is very alpha like, which is the perfect ingredient for a paranormal romance novel.
4/5 stars


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

All the Broken Pieces - Cindi Madsen

All the Broken PiecesAll the Broken Pieces - Cindi Madsen
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is? (Description from Goodreads)

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'All the Broken Pieces' was one of my most anticipated reads for 2012. When I found out Cindi had a YA contemporary hitting the shelves, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it (I even stalked the postman a little when I knew the book was in the mail) After all that waiting, I can tell you it met expectations and more.

Olivia Stein's past is a mystery - not in a way that the reader isn't aware of her past, but that she literally has no clue what her life was like before waking up to an unknown couple telling her she'd been in an accident and that they are her parents. With no memory of who they are or what she went through, it's a lot to take in. It's bad enough not remembering who you are or how to act, but this is the least of Liv's problems. When two different voices fight for attention within her mind, bringing with them memories of forgotten lives, it's enough to drive a person mental. I loved Liv's tortured and mysterious past, it's something I always like seeing in YA contemporaries - main characters having something to overcomes and I really enjoyed seeing this in 'All the Broken Pieces.'

Liv's memory loss drove me crazy; not because she was left to relearn the things most people take for granted, like tasting junk food and watching blockbuster movies, but because I was dying to find out what happened to her before her accident cause amnesia. We get hints and teasers of her other life and you can sort of guess what happened, but when the answer hits you won't believe it. You better be prepared to pick your jaw up from the floor!

I mentioned before that Liv goes about recreating memories and experiences she missed out on. The biggest part of this recreation involves the secretive and incredible Spencer Hale. A loner at Liv's new school, Spencer becomes the one stable part of Liv's life - despite a shaky start and a few less than friendly moments wrapped in jealous. I loved Spencer's relationship with Liv. In the beginning it was all based on friendship and helping Liv to experience situations she couldn't remember; but, like all good contemporaries, it grows into a romance you don't want to miss. The easy, playful and funny way Liv and Spencer interact made me smile and wish for more scenes with just the two of them; and learning about Spencer's own hidden past during their time together added an extra mystery element to the story. Part of why I loved these two so much was because their interactions reminded me of a mix of my favourite Sarah Dessen books ('Along for the Ride' and 'Just Listen') - bike rides, a list of essential experiences, musical educations and a relaxed, sweet relationship - Who could want anything more?

The only part I had an issue with was the end. It wrapped up very neatly. For something this huge (and you'll understand when you read the book) I wasn't expecting an easy end. But having never been in that situation before, I can't say I know how it should have ended instead. I did love that there's an epilogue that gives us a glimpse of the life to come; it made the ending more whole.

I adored this book and I hope there are more contemporaries in Cindi's future.

4.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Skeleton Key - Tara Moss

The Skeleton Key (Pandora English#3) - Tara Moss
Grade: YA
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

In the third Pandora English mystery, Pandora is still negotiating her double life as a lowly assistant at a New York fashion magazine with the reality that she has great supernatural powers and responsibilities.

With the full moon set to rise once again, Pandora has a very special date looming. Her beautiful spirit guide, Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, will be a flesh-and-blood man, if only for the night, and she hasn't been able to stop thinking about it. But a chance encounter with playboy Jay Rockwell sees that very human attraction start all over again – even though Jay doesn't remember their previous relationship, or the fact that Pandora saved him from a gang of ill-tempered undead supermodels.

Meanwhile, Pandora – with her special skeleton key – is slowly unlocking the mysteries of the haunted mansion where she lives with her great aunt Celia. What sinister experiments did the architect Dr Edmund Barrett conduct there before he died? Where is his laboratory? And what are the strange noises emanating from the basement?

On the centenary of the mysterious fire that supposedly killed Dr Barrett, he returns to the mansion. He has a message for Pandora. But he has brought with him a dark force that threatens to tear apart the delicate balance between the worlds of the dead and living...(Description from Goodreads)

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This is the third novel in the Pandora English series. After defeating the Spider Goddess, Pandora finally gets told what it means to be the Seventh- it involves standing between the dead that want to rule the world and us mortals who inhabit it. Unfortunately, she doesn't know exactly "how" she's meant to stop this from happening. It also involves having powerful supernatural beings naturally seeking her out- oh joy!

I liked seeing Pandora's powers emerge. With this book I felt like the series was really starting to pick up its pace.

This novel focuses on the creepy mansion that is Pandora's new home. Pandora has been given the skeleton key to the mansion and told to go explore. But when Lieutenant Luke says there's a powerful force within the mansion before disappearing himself, you kinda wish Pandora would stop exploring and just go hide in her room.

I found this book to be a lot creepier than the last two. Probably because I have a phobia of haunted mansions. Give me vampires, werewolves or fey over ghosts any day. And the creepy ghost of one of the originally owners, (who doesn't speak but just expects Pandora to follow) makes me shudder. Maybe, as crazy as it seems, this is the reason I enjoyed this book more than the others. By half way through I could ignore the frustration of not knowing what was going on, and just go along with the ride that is The Skeleton Key.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Falling for Hamlet - Michelle Ray

Falling for Hamlet
Falling for Hamlet - Michelle Ray
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

Sometimes love can make you crazy.

Meet Ophelia, high school senior, daughter of the Danish king's most trusted adviser, and longtime girlfriend of Prince Hamlet. She lives a glamorous life and has a royal social circle, and her beautiful face is splashed across magazines and television screens. But it comes with a price--her life is ruled not only by Hamlet's fame and his overbearing royal family but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go.

After the sudden and suspicious death of his father, the king, Hamlet spirals dangerously toward madness, and Ophelia finds herself torn, with no one to turn to. All Ophelia wants is to live a normal life. But when you date a prince, you have to play your part. (Description from Goodreads)

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We've all heard of the Shakespearian play Hamlet, the tragedy where everyone dies. But what happens when one of the main player in the story doesn't die? Add to that a modern day setting with guns, surveillance cameras, talk shows and police interrogations and you have 'Falling for Hamlet' - And what an amazing story it was.

Being someone who has studied Hamlet many times, I was really interested to see how different the story was going to be from the play. Apart from the obvious deviation we're told at the start, the book really does follow events almost exactly like the play: ghost sightings, death, craziness, performances, tragedy - but most importantly the setting; it was one of my favourite parts of the story. We are still focusing on Denmark's Royals and I really like that this part of the story didn't change. It wouldn't have been Hamlet, if he wasn't the Prince of Denmark. Of course, things were a little different. Most obvious was the increase in technology. It's easy to broadcast madness when a thousand cameras are focused on your every move, but it also made the biggest twist of all more possible - Ophelia's survival. I spent most of the book wondering how she would escape being yet another body on the royal tally. The urge to flip to the end is strong, but don't do it - it's better to let the ending come to you!

Ophelia is the daughter of the royal family's more trusted advisor. Born and raised in a glamorous and over exposed lifestyle, she's never known a life outside castles, fame, fortune and the constant knowledge that she's in the public eye. I found modern Ophelia to be a bit of a strange character. The original blurb I read made it sound like Ophelia, while trying to gain a normal life somewhere in the madness of dating royalty, was going to capitalise on the fame to make her life more bearable. I guess this was the case, but not the way I was expecting it. Ophelia spends much of the book torn between wanting to be with Hamlet, the only person she's ever loved despite his responsibilities as the Prince of Denmark; and wanting to escape it all but not knowing how. I'll admit there were times when I was angry at her for this. She spent so much time thinking about escaping the pressures of a famous life, but never actually left. But she was definitely an interesting and entertaining narrator and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. She proves she's more than just the Prince's famous girlfriend.

I really enjoyed the way the story was told. We see the events in three different ways. The first being from the present as Ophelia discusses what happened during a popular talk show program. The brief glimpse of Ophelia's life through photos prompts the direction the chapter will be going in. This is the second way the story is told; a first person recount of events by Ophelia without the idea that she's talking to the public, just to the reader. And finally, the one that made me stop and think; a transcript from Ophelia's police interrogation after she's accused of treason for being the only survivor. I can't say I saw that coming, but it was an interesting twist. All three engaging scenes made you want more, I loved it.

What I was looking forward to most in this story was actually seeing Ophelia and Hamlet's relationship. Having studied the play, I knew they had a tough relationship, struggling to be together and left broken by the lies, betrayals and deaths that seemed to follow both characters. While I knew how to story was supposed to end, part of me really wanted more twists to pop up involving their romance. I wanted them to have a chance to reconcile. I loved seeing their past, how happy they were together and it killed me to see them pulled apart by Hamlet's madness and Ophelia's willingness to go along with Claudius and Gertrude's schemes. Ophelia disappointed me a bit with her romance, as she forms a bond with one of her school friends. Her dedication to Hamlet falters towards the end, for obvious reasons, despite how often she claimed she loved Hamlet. I can't say I blame her for seeking a life outside her current destructive one, but I really wanted her with Hamlet. I guess I'm just a sucker for tragic love.

I really enjoyed this retelling. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through - even though I already had an idea how the story would end. I can see myself looking out for more Shakespeare retellings in the future.

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Pandora English - Tara Moss

A few weeks ago, I was asked to review The Skeleton Key - the third book in Tara Moss's paranormal series, Pandora English. In order to do it justice, I set out to read the first two books in the series. So here's a round-up post of my reviews for The Blood Countess and The Spider Goddess. Look out for The Skeleton Key soon! Enjoy!

The Blood Countess (Pandora English#1) -Tara Moss
Grade: YA
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Pandora English is no ordinary small town orphan. When she's invited to live with her mysterious Great-Aunt Celia in New York City, she seizes the opportunity to escape her stifling hometown break from her tragic past and make it as a writer. Things, however, are not what she is expecting. For starters, her great-aunt's gothic mansion is in a mist-wreathed Manhattan suburb that doesn't appear on maps. And then there's Celia herself - a former designer to the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age - who is elegant, unnaturally young and always wearing a veil. Pandora lands a job at a fashion magazine and her first assignment is covering the A-list launch of the latest miracle cream, BloodofYouth. But something is not right about the product, nor Athanasia, the drop-dead beautiful face of the brand. It seems there may be a secret ingredient in BloodofYouth, a secret worth killing for... (Description from Goodreads)

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If I had to describe The Blood Countess I'd say it’s a mix of 'The devil wears Prada' with paranormal and mythology twists. Quite interesting if you think about it.

Pandora has spent her whole life dreaming of getting out of her small town. A town where she was looked at as "the weird kid" (especially after an incident when she was little where she told people she spoke to the local, recently departed, butcher). So when her great aunt Celia invites her to come live with her in NY, Pandora jumps at the chance. It’s the opportunity she’s been waiting for, to leave her old life behind and start a new career as a journalist in the fashion magazine industry.
But things aren't as normal in the Big Apple as they first appeared.

For one thing her great aunt looks really young for her age, and then there's the dead civil war guy who turns up in her bedroom at night, and let’s not forget the strange supermodel Pandora meets on her first day at her new job. Pandora soon learns that the supernatural world is real and she's very much a part of it.

I liked Pandora's great aunt Celia although the one thing that left me feeling frustrated was that she never really answered Pandora's questions so (like Pandora) you were always left wondering what in the world was going on!

I have a real soft spot for the beautiful city of New York. It's one of the places I am dying to see, so any book set in the great city automatically gets bonus points. I liked that we got to see the different areas of NY as Pandora settled into her new home.

I also really enjoyed the start. It was absorbing and you wanted to know what every ones secret was, but I was kind of disappointed that our questions still weren't answered by the end. Overall though, it was an enjoyable, easy read.
(Originally posted on Goodreads)

The Spider Goddess (Pandora English#2) -Tara Moss
Grade: YA
Rating: 3/5 stars

It's been two months since Pandora English left her small hometown to live with her mysterious great-aunt in a haunted mansion in Spektor – the fog-wreathed suburb of Manhattan that doesn't appear on any map. With the help of her great-aunt and the beautiful – but dead – Lieutenant Luke, Pandora is beginning to understand the significance of the Lucasta family heritage her late mother kept secret from her. Pandora is heir to a great gift. And with that comes frightening responsibility...

Meanwhile, she seems doomed to be forever underestimated in the mortal world. Her fashion editor boss doesn't seem to know she exists. But New York needs Pandora's special gifts. There is a new designer in town, and her ambitions extend far beyond taking over the fashion world one knit at a time... (Description from Goodreads)

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The Spider Goddess starts a few months after The Blood Countess. Pandora has settled into her new life in NY. She's still getting used to the secret supernatural world she's found herself in, but she's no longer afraid.

Our supermodel nemesis, Athanasia, is back causing problems for Pandora. However, Pandora has now learnt how to deal with her.

We finally meet the elusive (and turns out, quite freaky) vampire Deus. Deus was a nice surprise. He wasn't at all what I was expecting.

There were a few mysteries at play in this novel. Pandora has a strange- and from her instincts- dangerous woman following her around. What does this woman want? Well, I can’t tell you or it will be a spoiler.

If that wasn't enough, leading New York knit designers are going missing and Pandora suspects foul play from the supernatural world.

We finally find what being the Seventh actually means for Pandora (unfortunately we don’t find this out until close to the end). It was kind of what I was expecting but at least this means big things are in store for her.

There’s only one issue I have with these novels- nothing really gets explained. There are lots of “mysteries” going on but with no real explanation for them. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out in The Skeleton Key.

Overall another fun, easy read and I liked the little twist right at the end.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Through the Ever Night - Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky 
#2) - Veronica Rossi
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a captivating love story as perilous as it is unforgettable. (Description from Goodreads)

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‘Under the Never Sky’ was a book I was dying to read, put off for so long, and fell in love instantly; so when I was given the chance to read ‘Through the Ever Night’ I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was desperate to jump back into Perry and Aria’s world. After the way the first book ended, I needed to know if they’d get together. The action, excitement and emotional rollercoaster we’re sent on met all my expectations and more. I loved every single moment of this book.

‘Through the Ever Night’ begins almost exactly where the previous book ended with Aria and Perry meeting up for the first time since they parted ways - we actually get to hear the words Aria had been waiting for from Perry. But their reunion is short-lived because of Perry’s new duties as the Blood Lord of the Tides and Aria’s task to find the Still Blue in order to save Talon from Reverie. It definitely sets the scene for the book. While both Perry and Aria want nothing more than to be alone with each, they’re pushed away by the separate responsibilities tasked to them. To say these responsibilities left me frustrated at times is an understatement. I just wanted to see Aria and Perry happy together. But their tasks meant not always following what I wanted them to do, and focused more on seeing the Outsider world in completely new ways, especially when it came to running and trading with different tribes.

The biggest problem for Aria and Perry in this book is the strength of the Aether and the storms that are causing more harm than they ever had before. The Aether - a piece of the natural world, always present since a solar flare 300 years ago changed the way the world survived; and always dangerous. But the funnels - the electric fire power that attack the ground below without mercy – is a threat to everyone. There’s no escape from the destruction caused by an Aether storm. The Outsider tribes are losing food and shelter; not even the pods in Reverie can survive an attack from the Aether. The only hope is finding the Still Blue. The Aether has always interested me. I really enjoyed seeing this natural disaster problem; this powerful element destroying the world without hope of ever being fixed. I like that this is the push that makes the population want to fight for a new world. There’s no government pulling them down, no rules that need to be followed; just the natural world out to destroy. Yes, there are other people who are hoping to stand in their way of finding the Still Blue, but no-one owns them; the fight is always to stay alive first and hope for a better world second.

I was glad to be thrown into the familiar switching POVs – the same as how they were in ‘Under the Never Sky’ – changing between Aria and Perry, but different in that a lot of the novel happens when they’re apart from each other. Countless times I almost went mental, when one chapter would end with a shock, only to be thrown into the other character’s chapter that would also end with a surprising twist and I’d be torn in multiple directions emotionally; desperate to find out the consequences of Aria’s last ending, but not ready to let go of the twist from Perry’s. All the while dying for them to be together again. It was an incredibly emotional journey for me. A big part of why I love this series so much is the romance we get to see between Perry and Aria. It wasn’t quite as physical as ‘Under the Never Sky’ but the emotions were all still there. I love how strongly Aria and Perry feel for each other. Even though there were a few moments of uncertainty, I loved knowing what they felt for each other was so powerful and true. They’ve jumped up my list of favourite YA couples.

One of my favourite parts of this story was getting to see some of the side characters. While Aria and Perry are constantly thinking about each other, their separation gave us a chance to explore the people they relied on most to help them through. Aria forms a bond with Roar as they cross the country side in search of Liv and news of the Still Blue. I love Roar. He’s funny, charming and protective. You might think that if a female YA character is thrown into situation where she spends so much time alone with a guy she wasn’t originally in love with that there might be ‘love-triangle’ warnings flashing through your head. Never fear, Aria’s only got eyes for Perry and nothing could keep Roar from loving Liv. As for Perry, the group of warriors he stumbles upon in the end of ‘Under the Never Sky’ become his closest advisors; they keep him safe and in control, following him wherever he might lead – and as a struggling Blood Lord, he really needed the support. You don’t instantly think of these characters as the “main characters” but they are every bit as important to the story and I’m just as attached to them as I am Perry and Aria.

I was so sad when the book came to an end. It almost felt like I was missing more pages, even though I knew I had come to the perfect end for the book. Questions about what will happen next are still running through my mind and the wait for book #3 is probably going to kill me. I see a lot of re-reading in my future to get me through the wait.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

SWOON Thursday #1

SWOON Thursday is a meme hosted by YA Bound. Where bloggers and book readers share the latest swoon-worthy moment they've come across from the book they're currently or just finished reading.

Before I jump into my first SWOON Thursday post, I just wanted to say how much this meme made me smile. After doing a little research, I realised it has been around for a while, but I only just stumbled across it. I've always been a fan of a little romance in books and anything that brings on the swoon moments works for me. 

Despite being hosted by a more YA focused blog - I've picked my most recent adult Urban Fantasy read, for the sweetest little moment that made me swoon like mad! (I promise it's PG) 

"You're not supposed to be awake," he told me softly. And tried to gather me up. But that wasn't what I wanted.
"No." I pushed at him, ineffectually.
"What is it?"
"Little spoon."
"You are hungry?"
I didn't answer, because he wasn't making sense. I just arranged him the way I wanted, needed. A big, warm, muscle-y pillow that I could drape myself around, like a child with a favourite toy.
A toy with a lot of hair. A mass like silk hit me in the face, making it hard to breathe. I pushed it up and over the soft mound of the pillow, and the snuggled up behind him, pressing my face to a neck that smelled like - 
I took a deep breath, and sighed it out into his ear.
"Ah," he said, a hand covering the one I'd placed on his stomach, as I pulled him back against me. "I see."
I sighed again, my whole body relaxing. The pain, the confusion, all of it releasing, slipping away. Like the room. And the a thought occurred, right on the edge of sleep.
"If I'm not supposed to be awake, why are you here?" I mumbled.
"To be the little spoon."

And that's my SWOON Thursday for this week. 


p.s. Want to share your SWOON Thursday with Twitter? Tweet your swoon-worthy moment with the hashtag #YABound and share the love with more book fans!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Scent of Magic - Maria V. Snyder

Scent of Magic (Healer, #2)Title: Scent of Magic (Healer #2) - Maria V. Snyder
Grade: YA
Rating 5/5 Stars

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again

Description from Goodreads

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I was a huge fan of Touch of Power, (the first book in the Healers series) and was ecstatic to receive an ARC of the sequel Scent of Magic from Harlequin.

If you haven't read Touch of Power, I strongly recommend it. It hooks you in right from the start and leaves you begging for more.

Scent of Magic begins right where Touch of Power left off. Avry has survived the plague, thanks to the Peace Lily, and she and Kerrick finally give in to their feelings. But there's no happily ever after just yet for these two. As much as they wish they could get on with their lives together, they know Tahon must be stopped. And for that to happen Kerrick must return to Rynes military without Avry by his side. Avry has a mission of her own. Since everyone believes she has died from the plague, Avry disguises herself to infiltrate the holy army in order to prepare the solders for the soon to be war with Tahon.

I love that, even though Kerrick is no longer by Avry's side, we don't lose sight on what happens to him as the chapters are actually split between him and Avry. Seeing things in Kerrick's perspective was quite interesting and I was eager to find out more about this wonderful character.

I found the start to be a little slow, which is understandable since preparing for war requires a lot of preparation (I was also feeling exhausted on the day I started this book, so that could be why I found the start slow). But once the action starts.... Boy, does it start!

Ms Snyder knows how to torture her readers by putting our most loved characters in dire situations. No one is safe, and no one can be trusted. I've never seen so many double crosses before!
And then there's Tahon! I swear Tahon deserves the evil villain award. That man is just horrid!

Just when you think you know how it will end, Ms Snyder leaves you hanging on a cliff hanger that will have you begging for the next book. Please Ms Snyder! Can I have the next book now?

Thoroughly enjoyable! 5 out of 5


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky , #1)Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1)
 - Veronica Rossi
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers abarbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

It occurred to me while reading an early copy of ‘Through the Ever Night’ that I’d never actually finished my review of ‘Under the Never Sky.’ I love the book so much, that I found it hard to put into words exactly why I wanted everyone to read it and what stood out for me as the bits and pieces I loved and wanted to share with everyone. But I can’t escape the idea of spreading that love – so here is my late review, and I hope it shows how much I loved the book then; as well as now.

‘Under the Never Sky’ is a dystopia set in a world where only a tiny part of the population is controlled by a governing body under the pretence that it’s for their own protection. This part of the population live in many domed Pods all over the land, but we focus on Reverie. The Pods keeps the citizens safe from the destructive atmosphere outside, a lifestyle they’ve been cut off from for so long and they can no-longer live beyond their manufactured walls and worlds without dying. But there is a population on the outside and they have evolved throughout the 300 years since the world collapsed. I loved these split worlds. We get introduced to both through the main characters, Aria and Perry. You see the tension, lies and stories told to the Dwellers in Reverie and to the Outsiders, and you get to see how they look at each other – and then get to see those stereotypes and tensions least for some.

For me, Aria and Perry are perfect main characters. We get to see their emotions and thoughts through the spilt third person point-of-view. I love that we’re almost instantly introduced to both main characters at the same time; despite the fact that both characters come from different parts of the world and haven’t actually met yet. The tension, anger and emotion that is present while they’re learning to be around each other is incredible. I love that both main characters have situations and emotions that they have to fight to beat. I hate seeing weak main characters; I want my interest to be pulled in by their determination to never give up – and Perry and Aria are exactly like that; struggling to come to terms with their own problems, but always pushing themselves to get through their issues. Aria must try to overcome her fear of the outside world, as well as attempting to draw on hidden strengths to reach her mother in an outlying Pod, Bliss. While Perry struggles to accept that not everything he does will end in disaster and that befriending a Dweller might not be as bad an idea as he originally though. There is hardly any waiting to get the story rolling with these two and you fall into their separate views of the world so well. And obviously, a little of that tension between the two of them moves onto more than just friendship. They’ve become one of my favourite YA couples. I just love these two.

I usually think of dystopian novels as worlds where the government or a rebel body takes over complete control of everything; where the population is limited to only what that government wants them to do. But that’s not always the case, and ‘Under the Never Sky’ really shows there’s more to dystopias than just their oppressive governments with gadgets and invented organisations that trap all citizens. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed seeing this other side. While we do get to see inside the controlling world at the beginning, what we really get to see is the life outside the walls of the Dweller Pods, and there is so much going on. I mentioned that the outside world had evolved, well in a way they have and haven’t. Their lifestyles have moved backwards – small tribes and villages that struggle to find enough food and resources to make life worth living – but for some they have gained extra abilities from living in the outside world: heightened senses – sight, hearing, smell – that are sometimes all that stands between you and certain death. At first you read it thinking this has to be some sort of magic, a supernatural element to the story, but it isn’t; they really are just sense they are stronger than the average human’s.

But every dystopian world needs its weakness – the thing that needs to be overcome in order for everyone to live safely. And for ‘Under the Never Sky’ this is the Aether. The new sky patterns – sort of like super intense lightning funnelling towards the ground in intense storms and strikes – that can cause more destruction in a few minutes than anything before, and if big enough, these Aether storms can last a lot longer than a few minutes! We get hints and rumours of a land without Aether called the Still Blue. But it’s just a mystery place – a myth. The Aether is an interesting addition to the story. Unlike a controlling government or tribes that need to be fought, the Aether is unpredictable. The danger that comes from avoiding the Aether lifts up the excitement in the story and you just know it’s going to be a problem you can’t push aside for long.

What I adored about this book was the action. And it has got a lot of it. I can’t get enough of well written books that also have a bit of fighting and adventure. I love sword fights and treks across troubled lands. There are tribes that chase and attempt to kill Perry and Aria and the only way to escape them is to fight back. Aria must learn to defend herself and there are a few cute knife fighting lessons thrown into the mix. But what I love more is that Perry’s weapon of choice is the bow and arrow. Oh, a man after my own heart. I do like a good archer using his Outsider skills to hunt, fight and kill.

An amazing book full of adventure, excitement and the unknown. Just wait until you read, ‘Through the Ever Night’ – equally as incredible. I can’t get enough of this series.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1)- Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)The Lost Prince- Julie Kagawa
Grade- YA
Rating- 5/ 5 Stars

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

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Even though you could technically read this book without having read the prequel, I would highly recommend that you read The Iron Fey series first. Having that extra background information on the characters and the world just makes things both easier and better. And while you're at it, read the short story Iron's Prophecy (since Ethan doesn't know about the prophecy, he misses things that you will pick up on).
Now on with the review...
Julie Kagawa, you have done it again! Her world building of magic and Fey is utterly memorizing. Everything from the descriptive world and characters to the actual storyline keeps your eyes glued to the page. To be honest I was wondering how I'd feel about this story being written from Ethan's perspective. Now I know I needn't have worried. The last time you read about Ethan, he's only a child and Meghan is telling him goodbye. In The Lost Prince that little boy has all grown up and Ethan has become a tough (and very swoon-worthy) young man. I absolutely loved Ethan.

Ethan is trying to lead a normal life but its not easy being a human with "the sight". Especially when the Fey realise and cause havoc for you and those you care about. It is for this reason that Ethan tries to distance himself from everyone (hoping to stay hidden from the Fey) and also the reason for Ethan's "bad boy" rep. When something starts targeting half breeds and a school mate disappears, Ethan must re-enter the Fey world in order to find him and stop the Fey killings.

I really loved everything about this book. All the new characters that were introduced were awesome (*coughs* Kieran) and it was especially exciting to see all the old characters again (I may have screamed out someone's name in excitement when he made his first appearance). Can't wait for the next book to see how everything plays out... especially with that prophecy still to come.

Originally Posted on Goodreads

Monday, 19 November 2012

Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)
Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) - Laini Taylor
Grade: YA

Rating: 5/5 stars

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world. 
(Description from Goodreads)

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What would you do if the person you loved was killed by their own family? Would you fall, losing all hope of living again; or would you fight back?

I feel like we may have just entered the age of incredible sequels. I hate to admit it, but lately the second books in popular trilogies have a way of disappointing me - the characters flip their personalities or the story feels like a filler for the final battle. But we're coming out of that trend. 'Days of Blood and Starlight' conveys the same powerful, emotional and addictive story and characters that we're first introduced to in 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' and takes it to a whole new level. There is not a moment of this book I would have traded for something else, and I wish it had gone on forever. I have no doubt Laini Taylor could have an endless story if she wanted to.

We start the book in the middle of war. We saw signs of this war between the chimaera and the seraphim in the previous book, not only through the angels' active destruction of the portals between Eretz and the Human World, but through Karou's memories as Madrigal. War is all these races knew for so long. But this time, we get to see more of that fighting in the present. Karou is distraught over the death of her family and the collapse of her home, and puts all her energy into continuing the work of her father-like figure, Brimstone. While Akiva, determined to find out how to make up for all his wrongs, plans ways to stop the seraphim from annihilating the last of the chimaera. This book is very action based - what else would expect from a scenes that take place in a time of war? I love action books. The heart racing, blood pumping through the veins - not knowing what might be coming next. It makes it hard to put the book down to do normal things, like eat and sleep!

It's no secret that Laini Taylor has a way with words. She sweeps you up in her powerful tale and spits you out as a new person in the end; completely lost for words and shaking from the journey you've just been on. There were countless times when I had to pause after reading a sentence, just because the raw emotion and images that it produced were too much for me to function. You're attached to every character, every situation; from the Damas running to escape from seraphim slavery, to the guards posted outside the Angel strongholds, to the chimaera experiencing the endless pain tithe for resurrection. Nothing is hidden from the power of Laini's words.

We definitely see a different Akiva and a different Karou, in this book. There's no way for them to be the people they were before, not with so many issues pressing down upon them. Their pasts are always in the front of their - and everyone else's - minds; with no chance of escaping past choices and emotions. But, oh did I want them to forget about what everyone else might think, forget about the past, forget about their troubles. I just wanted to see them together and fighting for the same cause. When you've already seen the passion between two characters (or in two relationships, both Akiva and Karou, and Akiva and Madrigal), it's hard not to want to see those relationships again. But this is not a romance story, despite the longing, the hints, the hope. And, oh is there so much Hope!

This series is not a series that is about one character alone. It's not even about two characters (ie. those we would consider the main characters - Karou and Akiva, even if references to an angel and devil falling in love, is focusing on them). No. This series is much more than that. There are so many different characters that make it amazing. Of course, I want to mention Karou and Akiva, who have both suffered so much heartache over being together and being pulled apart. I can't get enough of these two. But there are characters I loved just as much as them. Zuzana and Mik. Never have the 'human' friends been so entertaining, so passionate and so persistent, Zuzana is incredible. She never gives up on the chance of being with Karou and, because of all the crazy she has already seen, accepting that there is more crazy to come doesn't seem to faze her. I'm so glad she has Mik though, because she needs a little normality in her life. The dialogue that runs between Zuzana and Mik brought smiles to my face almost every time they were on the page, and when there were no smiles it wasn't because of them, but the situation they were in. Then there's Ziri. A chimaera soldier, the last Kirin, who still wears his original skin. I adore Ziri. He's seen the worst of the world and still manages to hold onto this air of innocence. He comes out of his shell throughout the novel and you can't help loving him. And finally, the seraphim Misbegotten, the Emperor's bastards, Liraz and Hazael. Akiva's siblings and closest friends. The ones he can rely on to always have his back, even if he's not too sure they'll approve of his choices. It's amazing too see all these different characters interacting and fighting for survival and freedom. Laini Taylor finds a way to bring a voice to ever single character she creates, without making any of them seem 2D. Every one of them feels real and every one is important to the story.

One of the sub-plots that interested me the most involved Akiva's past, his history. Known as the Beast's Bane for his part in destroying the chimaera stronghold, you would think Akiva was important. But like all bastard offspring of the angel's Emperor, Akiva has no position, no family, no role in the world other than being a soldier. But we do find out more of his ancestry and it really makes you think; discovering just what makes him so different from the other Misbegotten. I'm a little obsessed with Akiva, so finding out more about him really sparked my interest. I can't wait to see how it all ties into the next book.

The end of the book leaves you breathless. Twists and turns that I definitely couldn't see coming, but are game changers. The war can't hope to be stopped in one book, and the angels have made the biggest move yet. I can't even begin to imagine how anyone will prevent more destruction from following in book #3, but one can only hope that there'll be action like no-one's ever known. And I'm looking forward to every last moment of it!

5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #6

'Waiting On' Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where you can gush about books that you're desperate to get your hands on...if only they were published already.

I've been in a bit of a YA Contemporary mood over the last few weeks. I haven't actually read too many of them, but I've been wanting to. Today I finally pre-ordered a YA Contemporary I've been waiting for all year. Because I'm dying to read it, I thought it'd be perfect for my WoW post this week.

All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen 

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

This book went through two cover reveals during the year and I'm so glad they ended on this one, because I adore it - The shattered glass, the mix of faces...the colours! And that's just the cover.

I have this slight obsession with broken and troubled characters in contemporaries; and it looks like All the Broken Pieces is going to deliver when it comes to damaged characters. I can't wait!

And that's my WoW for this week.

Friday, 9 November 2012

This Lullaby - Sarah Dessen

This LullabyThis Lullaby - Sarah Dessen
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about? (Description from Goodreads)

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Another book to add to my list of comfort contemporary YA reads. I had high expectations for 'This Lullaby' not only because I have loved all Sarah Dessen books I've read in the past, but also because many friends recommended it and claimed it was the best Dessen book ever. I wouldn't go that far, but I really enjoyed the book and I can definitely see myself rereading it when I need a comfort story.

Sarah Dessen's books have a pattern. This isn't a bad thing, I like the pattern she uses, but it does mean you go into each new book knowing what will come next. There will be a girl with some family or personal issues, who falls for a guy who brings out the best in her; but she gets scared, worried or lost along the way. There's a separation for a while and then they'll get back together in the end. I like this pattern and knowing it exists means it fits into my "comfort" category so well. I don't have to worry that the story will send me spinning out of control; I know it'll end well.

'This Lullaby' starts with Remy Starr, a teenage girl who is just finishing High School and who plans to spend the summer before college having fun and letting loose - but first she must plan her mother's fifth wedding. Remy was a strange main character, I didn't like her all that much for most of the book. Because of her mother's relationship past, Remy convinced herself that love didn't exist, and this showed in nearly all her actions. She was hard and cold; and even though she used the same words (and others) to describe herself, I just couldn't bring myself to like her. I could understand why she came off this way, because of her images of love and relationships she wasn't really open to them for herself - it drove me mental. She's not an easy character to like. I sort of hated myself for not liking her, because Remy reminded me a lot of Auden from 'Along for the Ride' - they had a few differences, but I loved Auden and had to really try to love Remy. In the end, I warmed up to her a lot more, but I think that was all because of Dexter.

When you say the word 'lullaby' you think of music and, as the title suggests, the book involves a little bit of music. It's not a big focus, but there is a band: Truth Squad. Their musical journey becomes a side story as we see them write their own strange songs about Potatoes and attempt to get signed by a record label. Dexter, our love interest for this book, is the lead singer of Truth Squad and the one who finally breaks through Remy's cold heart. It sounds cheesy, but he had a really tough job to tackle and he did help change her. Dexter's a clumsy, loud, funny guy and he balanced Remy's personality so well. He brought out the best in her.

What I love most about Sarah Dessen books are the friendships she writes. Not all of her main characters end up with a close group of friends, but some of them do, and I love the dialogue that comes with them. The easy banter and the crazy conversations. I always like seeing characters that have these stable and well formed friendships. It makes them seem more real.

An easy, touching and comforting read. I loved it!

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #5

'Waiting On' Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where you can gush about books that you're desperate to get your hands on...if only they were published already.

I haven't done one of these in a while, but felt like complaining about the agony of waiting for books with the people who are most likely to understand my pain.

I've been doing a few re-reads lately of a series I only discovered this year - and was incredibly angry at myself for ignoring in the past - Gallagher Girls, by Ally Carter. And while the re-reads are just as good as when I first read the series, it got me thinking about how I'm dying for a new Ally Carter book.

So my latest WoW post is dedicated to Ally's next book - Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3)

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of lovable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting-or stealing-whatever they want. 

No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir-this time, Hale might be the mark. 

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy.

Ally always makes a book fun, funny, exciting and dangerous. I can't wait to get my hands on this book!


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings #1) 
                                                   - Jackson Pearce
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

~ * ~ * ~

Fairy tales and myths keep popping up in stories these days. It seems to be popular to retell an old story in new ways. But I'm certainly not going to complain. When a friend of mine told me that 'Sisters Red' was an amazing story, I knew I had to get my hands on it. She was right. The addictive adventure and adorable romance was perfect. I'm so happy I read this book.

Scarlett and Rosie March are sisters who are so connected to each other that it's like they share the same heart, despite being born a few years apart. After an attack from a Fenris (more commonly known as 'werewolves') leaves the March sisters without their grandmother who looks after them, the girls end up beaten, broken and - in Scarlett's case - damaged; but not without the strength to keep fighting. Scarlett takes it upon herself to train with every last breath in her body to be strong enough to defeat any roaming Fenris that visit their town of Ellison. Scarlett feels it is her duty to protect Rosie; while Rosie will do anything to support Scarlett, as she knows she owes her sister her life, even if she feels that there should be more to life than hunting. I adored Scarlett and Rosie's relationship. We get to see inside the mind of both March sisters throughout the story, switching first person point-of-view for each new chapter. The unwavering faith and love they had for each other; that despite what happens in the world, they'll always have a sister to rely on. It was incredible.

'Sisters Red' is a re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, a story most people have heard of but probably haven't explored in greater depths. I think that's part of the reason I loved it so much, because it not a tale I've searched for in the past. The wolves in 'Sisters Red' are fairly common in existence, but not common in knowledge. If it hadn't been for their grandmother's death at the beginning of the novel, Rosie and Scarlett would never have been aware of the Fenris. There's a mystery to the Fenris, they are hunting something - someone - the next possible addition to the wolf ranks: The Potential. They're so rare, there is no way of actively tracking them; but Scarlett will stop at nothing to make sure this person does not become the next soulless Fenris. The storyline was fairly predictable. The signs and hints that were thrown into the mix early on weren't hidden too well and I guessed most of what was coming next. But it didn't make me love the book any less. I sometimes really enjoy predicting where a story is heading too next. I feel pretty good about myself. I loved the action and excitement that came with hunting wolves and searching for the mystery Potential. It was very addictive.

What made this book even better was the romance. Another part that could be labelled as predictable, but only because the blurb gives it away. Childhood friend and neighbour, Silas Reynolds joins the sister team as another hunter, but he's not just hunting wolves; he's also hunting Rosie's heart. I adored the Rosie and Silas scenes and I kept holding out for more of them. The heart flutters, the accidental touches, the stolen moments when it was just the two of them; it all made my heart melt and break. These two caused a lot of emotional torture for me, but it was worth it.

I feel like the ending was a little rushed, but that's probably because I loved it too much to let the story end.

Incredible and powerful words. I loved every moment. Jackson Pearce, you rock!

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling
Grade: Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults (Description from Goodreads)

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I don’t know if I was more excited or nervous about reading ‘The Casual Vacancy’ on release. We all know J.K. Rowling is a talented author, so I wasn’t worried that the book would be badly written; but I couldn’t help wondering what if I’d got my hopes up a bit too much and I was expecting more than I’d get. My fears were misplaced. How could I have doubted that the story Ms. Rowling had given us wouldn’t captivate me in every way? ‘The Casual Vacancy’ is a powerfully written account of small-town political and social life, where the reader gets lost in the broken and defeated lives of the Pagford townsfolk. I loved it.

To the outside eye, Pagford doesn’t look like much. A small town, where everyone knows their neighbours and where gossip spreads like wildfire. But this little English town holds the potential for disaster. When well loved member of the community, Barry Fairbrother, dies the town goes into a bit of a meltdown. Barry Fairbrother had an impact on every bit of town life while he was alive; and also in his death. Pagford is left with the painful task of finding a Barry-Replacement for his seat on the town council. But with the town divided by their views of district lines, drug help centres and just who has the right to run for council; Barry is a hard act to follow.

We are given a well-rounded view of everything that goes on within Pagford. Every family has a secret, troubled existence. No-one in the community escapes from the brutal lives they’ve been placed in and we see these lives in great detail throughout the whole book. Unemployed drug addicts struggling to keep control of their children; the well-off store owners who think they’re better than the rest of the town, but aren’t hiding their snobbery very well; mothers who uproot their London lives to follow their ‘heart’ to ‘heartbreak’; children who fear when the next punch will come from Daddy. Every little life is ruled by potential destruction and yet you can’t look away. Like a train wreck I kept watching...reading; wanting to know what disaster might pop up next. The problems escalate thanks to the search for Barry's replacement. The drama, hatred and constant fighting for this vacant position left me gobsmacked and slightly fearful of small-town life. Politics, they can drive any family mental.

The book was darker than I was expecting, and I’d already read warnings that it was a very adult book. It’s not so much that the book was descriptive – although it did scrape away the layers of everyday life without guarding you from truth – but I just wasn’t expecting every character to be so broken and destructive. I kept thinking there had to be someone in the town that had redeeming qualities, but they were all a bit beaten before the book even started. I think the least broken character was Kay Bawden (she also happened to be my favourite Pagfordian) But even Kay had her issues and they weren’t all light and fluffy. The book should definitely come with a warning: Be careful of the dark life displayed within.

I really enjoyed the way the book was written. Despite having an opening section that was a little hard to follow. We’re thrown into the story and are greeted with over 20 characters that we will get the chance to follow and explore for the rest of the book. The problem was trying to remember which characters belonged to each family and what side of the council they were on. With only 50 pages in the opening section, it was a bit tricky keeping track of everyone. But you catch on after a while and you get used to the way all the characters interact with each other. It was the fact that we have so many characters that made the story a lot more interesting. I loved the switching perspectives. J.K. Rowling certainly has a way with words. I really enjoyed the way she wouldn’t just focus on one person within the one scene. If there were multiple main characters in the same scene (and there often were) you were constantly switching your focus from character to character – sometimes even mid-sentence. There was no clue who you were going to get next, but it definitely keeps you on your toes. It also helped with that well-rounded feeling, because you were able to see the different emotions and opinions from totally different characters that were in the same situations.

The harsh realities of the characters continue from start to finish. You couldn't escape being affected by the stories within. ‘The Casual Vacancy’ is a dark and twisted story that displays so much emotion and drama. I loved every moment. J.K. Rowling is a master of words and worlds.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Demons of the Sun - Cindi Madsen

Demons of the SunDemons of the Sun - Cindi Madsen
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Persephone didn’t ask to be the guardian of Hades Dagger, an artifact Hades forged to turn demons into daywalkers. She didn’t ask for the demon blood running through her veins that allows her to touch the thing, either.And she definitely didn’t ask for Jax, a cocky Warrior, to barge into her life and proclaim himself her bodyguard now that Hades wants his dagger back.

Forced to deal with this reality, along with an increase in demon attacks, and the fact members of the Order of Zeus keep turning up dead, Persephone finds her hands full.

When demons tell Persephone that she’s one of them she’s appalled... And a little intoxicated by the power she feels when they call her their queen. Telling Jax about her demon side might turn him away from her forever...

Something bad is brewing, and if Persephone doesn’t figure out a solution, and soon she’ll be responsible for unleashing Hell on Earth. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I’d been looking forward to reading ‘Demons of the Sun’ for so long. Unlike the rest of the YA world, I haven’t jumped on too many Greek Myth stories, so I went into it with a mostly clear head; but I was really interested to see what Cindi Madsen came up with. I was not disappointed.

Persephone is the last remaining Sentry; guardian of the Hades Dagger, a dagger that would cause the world to be overrun by demons if it got into the wrong hands. The problem is, the dagger calls to her – tempting her with its power and history. If she’s not careful, it could consume her. Persephone is a tough chick. Strong willed, skilled with a weapon or two, and independent in her thinking and actions. She’s one you just can’t help loving. I adored the opening scenes of ‘Demons of the Sun’ because we got to see Persephone in action straight away. A break-in at your house, late at night? No problem, the many weapons hidden in the rooms and the handy flipping coffee table make for good objects for defence! Persephone keeps this up throughout the whole book. She’s an action girl – despite the need to sometimes fall back and stay protected.

‘Demons of the Sun’ has a heavy focus on mythology and the paranormal, especially when it comes to Persephone’s task in life, protecting the Hades Dagger. As the name suggests, the dagger belongs to Hades himself; ruler of the underworld and master of the demons (creatures of the underworld that come out at night) If Hades has control of the dagger, demons will be able to walk the human world in the daytime. The destruction that would come from this would be impossible to stop. When this information popped up, I couldn’t help thinking of the Persephone myth and wondering whether Cindi would draw on it completely or deviate into her own world more. The connection between Persephone and Hades is well known and I was interested to see if it would be a major part of this story too. I loved the inclusion of Myths and Gods. Even though she grew up and lives in the United States, Persephone defaults to the Greek Gods and myths when praying for miracles. The legends and beliefs have been taught to her so strongly, that nothing – not time or space – pulls her apart from the world she’s been brought up in.

The romance in this story almost killed me. Hard to avoid the heart wrenching when you've got such an intense love triangle. Persephone is torn between the man of her dreams – literally – and the strong, handsome Warrior who is trying to protect her. Adrastos has always been on Persephone’s mind, and she lives for the moments he turns up in her dreams and professes his love for her. But then there’s Jax, who rarely sees the kind side of Persephone because she’s determined to do everything her way or no way at all; Persephone struggles to decider what she feels for him. I fell for Jax instantly, and not just because I’d heard amazing things about him. The fact that he was someone solid and caring, who didn’t just promise to be there for Persephone but was there for her, made my heart melt. He was cheeky, dangerous and there was a moment where I was so close to tears I didn’t think I could love him, and his relationship with Persephone, any more than I already did. Adrastos’s influence does make the battle for Persephone’s heart interesting though.

The ending wraps everything up perfectly, but leaves you with enough questions and possibilities that it’s open for more adventures in the future. The danger Persephone and Jax face is more than they’ve come across before and there were times when I thought it might be too much for Persephone to handle – but she’s stronger than she looks.

I really enjoyed 'Demons of the Sun' and I hope for more books from this world in the future, because I’m certain there are more exciting stories to be told.

4.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)
The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)
                                                 - Maggie Stiefvater
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him.

Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour.

Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?(Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

After months of building anticipation for ‘The Raven Boys’ I finally got the chance to read it. Dark mysteries, dangerous prophecies and a quest to uncover a power greater than anyone could imagine; ‘The Raven Boys’ captured my attention right from the start and I loved every moment of it.

Blue Sargent has lived in Henrietta with her psychic mother, and various psychic aunts, her whole life. She’s never questioned the future, having always had others to tell her what might be coming – including her own future: If Blue kisses her true love, he will die. Now her prophecy seems to be putting itself in motion and Blue is trying her hardest to make sure it won’t come true. I’ve always been a sucker for prophecies; they make things more interesting. The part that made Blue’s future prediction so much fun was discovering it so early in the novel and watching it start to unfold. There was a sense of mystery and adventure. You knew of a potential outcome for Blue and her true love, but there was no telling when or if it was actually going to come to pass. Despite the mentions of true love, and having Blue hang around a bunch of wealthy, nice-looking guys; ‘The Raven Boys’ isn’t a romance story; but the mystery of her ‘true love’ definitely gets the heart fluttering every now and then.

This wasn’t the only mystery in the book, there’s also one that involves The Raven Boys – a private boys school situated in the town of Henrietta. It’s not so much the school that is involved in a mystery, but four Raven Boys that are tied up in a whole heap of danger and excitement. There was something so captivating about Gansey and his gang (Adam, Ronan and Noah) – you couldn’t help wanting to know everything about them. Each boy seemed to have a troubled past; with Gansey being the exception, but he helped hold the group together. I always find troubled boys to be very interesting, I want to know what makes them tick and uncover their secret pasts. What made their side of the story so addictive was their passion to discover the mystery of the ley lines (powerful energy lines that can be found all over the world) – especially the line that could be found near Henrietta, as it was meant to hold Glendower, a famous Welsh noble. It was said if you could wake him from the ley line he’d grant you a favour. One of my favourite parts of the book was all the talk of ley lines, psychics and the potential for magic. While they rarely mention it as ‘magic’, the spirits, psychics and search for energy lines that’ll bring centuries old people to life again screams of semi-magic to me and I love it. I can’t pass up a good magic book!

The book spends a lot of time asking and answering questions. You can’t attempt to solve and uncover mysteries if you’re not going to ask questions along the way. Blue and the Raven Boys quartet definitely make you question everything as they search for the centre of Glendower’s ley line. I really liked this constant questioning; it pulled you into the story and you couldn’t let go – not without all the answers you were looking for. Unfortunately, the answers weren’t so easy to find and you were often left with more questions than before; especially towards the end of the novel. I thought the ending was a little rushed. You were sort of thrown into all this craziness which left you with a pile of previously unanswered questions and a heap of new ones. But it worked to cement my love for the story. The ending made me desperate for more. I don’t know how I’ll stay sane waiting for the sequel.

An incredible start to a mysterious series. I predict the next book will be just as fantastic!

5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Timepiece - Myra McEntire

Timepiece (Hourglass, #2)Timepiece (Hourglass #2) - Myra McEntire
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts. (Description from Goodreads) 

~ * ~ * ~

After the amazing 'Hourglass' I was desperate to find out what happens next to the time-gene crew, especially when I heard 'Timepiece' focused heavily on troubled bad-boy, Kaleb. This would be one of those moments when reading the blurb of the book might have come in handy, because it's not just that the story involves Kaleb more than the previous book. 'Timepiece' IS Kaleb's book.

Told in first-person, Kaleb's narration picks up shortly after 'Hourglass' ends and details his struggle to accept his mother's failing health and the issues he has to face now that the travel rules have been broken to restore his family. If you thought he had a hard time dealing with family issues before, it's nothing compared to what he and the other Hourglass students face now. I really enjoyed Kaleb's voice and the switch in perspective. While I missed Emerson's story a bit, it was cool to see the world through new eyes - and from someone who has a different power and who has known about the crazy time-related world his whole life - even if he wasn't always kept in the loop.

We're introduced to two enemies early on in the book - one we've come across before, Jack Landers, who is on the loose and must be found before he ruins more timelines and causes serious damage to the present timeshift. And a new enemy, The Powers That Be, a mysterious 'governing' body who threaten to reverse the new timeline created at the end of 'Hourglass' unless the Hourglass can find a way to fix the consequences of changing the past - which includes stopping Jack from finding a hidden time device that could change the world. I was worried about their task; it seemed almost impossible to tell a bunch of teenagers to fix the world or else! But at the same time I love the danger and adventure that came with this storyline. 'Timepiece' was darker because of the constant threat of failure. I'll admit that I was sometimes shocked at how they solved problems, it seemed too easy. In a book where new trouble popped up at every corner - the solutions came out of no-where; but they usually brought more trouble, so it kept the excitement going.

I think my biggest issue with the book came from the romance. Because Kaleb showed a fair bit of interested in Emerson during the previous book, I had latched onto those emotions and part of me was really hoping they could have a chance together - despite knowing Michael and Emerson have a crazy, electric connection. In an attempt to move on from his Emerson obsession, Kaleb throws himself at the first girl he sees, who happens to be Emerson's best friend, Lily; she's also not interested in him, which makes Kaleb try harder to get her attention. I wasn't so quick to let go of my Emerson hopes and I was convinced Lily was horrible for Kaleb. But Lily's presence proved to be the best thing for Kaleb; her emotions were hard to ignore and the fact that she didn't throw herself at him meant there was more learning about each other and less insta-love. It was exactly the stort of tension filled romance-drama that I want to see in YA books more often. It wiped out the possibility of love triangles and worked around non-relationship issues to bring them together.

Desperate to find out what happens next. The wait is going to be so hard.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)