Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Awakened (House of Night, #8) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Exonerated by the Vampyre High Council and returned to her position of High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, Neferet has sworn vengeance on Zoey. Dominion over Kalona is only one of the weapons she plans to use against Z. But Zoey has found sanctuary on the Isle of Skye and is being groomed by Queen Sgiach to take over for her there. Being Queen would be cool, wouldn’t it? Why should she return to Tulsa? After losing her human consort, Heath, she will never be the same – and her relationship with her super-hot-warrior, Stark, may never be the same either…

And what about Stevie Rae and Rephaim? The Raven Mocker refuses to be used against Stevie Rae, but what choice does he have when no one in the entire world, including Zoey, would be okay with their relationship? Does he betray his father or his heart?

I'm not quite sure how the Cast duo does it, but after seven books in the series they've still go me coming back for more. How they keep spinning up more ideas is astonishing, but oh so much fun. Still loving this House of Night series, and the cast of characters to go with it.

Zoey and her friends have been through a lot without a doubt. So when she spends time on the Isle of Skye I can't say that I blame her for not wanting to leave. However, when tragedy strikes back in Tulsa, she does what we all knew she would: she stands by her friends. Without throwing spoilers all over this review, all I can say is the even that brings Zoey back to Tulsa crushed me. I hadn't realized I liked this cast of characters to the extent I do until this turn of events took place. Too many more of those curve balls and I won't last...the tissues eventually will run out.

But on a brighter note, Zoey and Stark's relationship/status/situation developed more in this installment and I truly enjoyed that aspect. While I'm a sucker for a good romance (everyone knows this) these two have a great connection that takes readers further than just chemistry and school yard drama. The Cast duo needs to keep banging out more like this book. Fingers crossed, Destined keeps the ball rolling.

I gave Awakened (House of Night, #9) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Countdown: Favorite Authors Edition

While I'm anxious to ad some new authors to my bookshelf, I'll never pass up the chance to read yet another story written by an author I've come to adore. So I've been keeping my eyes open for future releases by one of these very authors. Obviously if I listed a soon to be released book by every author I love, the list would go on for forever. So I've listed just a few, but will surely have more of this type of countdown in the future. A few of these titles are already available on the shelves but I've yet to get my hands on them so they're listed with the rest. I can't say it enough, my TBR pile is always never ending, but it's so nice to have books listed among those that are by authors I love, that I have almost no doubt will become new favorite titles as well.

Countdown Pick #1:
The Future of Us by Jay Asher (11/12/2011)

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM. Josh is her best friend.

They power up and log on and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

If you're not familiar with Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, please do yourself a favor and go out and buy yourself a copy. It's an emotional roller coaster and at times hard to read, but is overall so worth it. I wouldn't even need to read the description to be interested in this one. If Jay Asher wrote it, I'm on board and expecting greatness. However, I did read the description and can't help but get excited over the details. How cool would it be to see where and how things end up for you in the future? I can't wait!

Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.

Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.

The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

Reading prose in college as an English major honestly made me want to cringe. It was just never my favorite thing. So when a fellow blogger suggested Schroeder's Chasing Brooklyn, which is written in prose, I was less than enthused to jump in and seriously doubtful I'd make it to the end. I was an idiot! Schroeder takes prose and creates works of art. Readers will forget they're even reading the uncommon format. After Chasing Brooklyn became close to my heart I decided anything Lisa wrote I wanted to read. Amber and Cade's story sounds like it could be a tear jerker, but one I'm anxious to check out. I've got my tissues ready for sure.

Countdown Pick #3: Starstruck by Cyn Balog

Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?

I've met and hung out with Cyn and she's in a word, fabulous! Her writing is no different. It made me laugh, cry, tense up and turn pages as quickly as possible just to find out what would happen next. When I got this one in the mail, work was unfortunately keeping me crazy busy and reading was hard to squeeze in. I'm hopeful that as things have slowed down a notch, Gwendolyn, Philip and the rest of Balog's characters and I will get the chance to get to know each other. I can't imagine that Starstruck won't live up to my high expectations, so I'm excited to have a good book to curl up with now that summer is drawing to a close.

Countdown Pick #4:
Fins Are Forever (Fins, #2) by Tera Lynn Childs

On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

Lily and Quince finally got together at the end of TLC's series opener and the sequel was so far off, that had I not been content with the ending, I might not have made it to it's release date. Now I find this installment starting at me from my bookshelf and I'm wondering what I'm waiting for. So with trouble following Lily on land and a new guy thrown into the mix, I'm worried that my period of contentment is now over. I can only cross my fingers and hope that I leave the last page of this installment as happy and content as I did with the series opener.

Countdown Pick #5: All You Desire (Eternal Ones, #2) by Kirsten Miller

Haven Moore and Iain Morrow have been living a blissful life in Rome, an ocean way from the Ouroboros Society and its diabolical leader. But paradise is not to last. The mysterious disappearance of Haven's best friend, Beau, sends the pair running back to New York, where they encounter the Horae, an underground group of women who have spent centuries scheming to destroy Adam Rosier. Only they can help Haven uncover the secret to Beau's whereabouts in one of her past lives. But their help comes at a price: Haven must infiltrate the Ouroboros Society, charm Adam Rosier, and lure him into a trap. It's a plan the Horae believe will save the world-but Haven and Iain fear that it may destroy the happiness they've been chasing for two thousand years.

Haven and Iain are yet another couple I was excited to see in fictional bliss at the end of Miller's series opener. And Miller seems to be another author who doesn't appear ready to let their bliss last. I'm still a fan, but Miller's making me nervous with the secret plans which lead to traps, missing persons and lives in jeopardy. The reprieve seems to be over, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she's got up her sleeve. I'd like to see Beau safe, Have and Iain together and Adam Rosier to get what he deserves. Is it likely to go my way? Probably not, but a girl can dream, right?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4) by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.

When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

The fourth installment had me feeling slightly more somber after so many happy endings taking place in City of Glass, but not too much to dissuade me from pushing through. Just when I thought Clary and Jace were on a no obstacles standing in their way course, Clare proves me wrong. Jace has got his hands full and nothing but ups and downs (mostly downs) in this go-around. It was disheartening to see it pan out that way. After a while a happy ending seems dramatic because it seems equally unlikely.

Simon however, shares his serious issues with almost no one and that's also hard to watch. His friendship with Clary has evolved throughout the series but Clare reminds readers of its strength and sustainability this time around. While City of Glass still stands out for me as a hard act to follow, this fourth book was a good edition to the series. And who isn't glad that the series went from being just a trilogy, to now a who knows how many installments series? I know I'm happy about it.

I gave City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4) 3 shamrocks!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Countdown: Series Edition

I've come to realize that when I find a book I've truly enjoyed or characters who have touched my heart, that I don't want to say goodbye just because the book has ended. For these reasons and so many more, I'm a huge fan of a good series. I know there are readers out there who don't think there's a reason to continue the story, they think the novel is good enough as a stand alone and I can understand that. But for me, when there are no quick goodbyes or feelings of disappointment due to a lack of closure, it just gives me something else to look forward to. With a series the story goes on, the characters continue to grow and the fun carries on. Here are just a few of the upcoming releases that are parts of series' that I've come to love and get excited about.

Countdown Pick #1: Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles, #3) by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl (10/18/11)

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.
Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

I was honestly hoping that this time around Lena and Ethan may have things a little easier. Silly I know, but this is the third installment in the Beautiful Creatures series and they've been through so much already. But based on the book's description I'm worried. Not only do their problems seem to be bigger than ever, but the authors have come right out and said there will be no happy ending. Ouch! I may have to psych myself up or harden myself up before starting this installment.

Countdown Pick #2: Fever (The Chemical Garden, #1) by Lauren DeStefano (February 2012)

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind. Determined to get to Manhattan and to find Rhine’s twin brother Rowan, the two press forward, amidst threats of being captured again . . . or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age 20 and men die at age 25, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

After reading Wither, I was convinced that dystopian novels could now be listed under favorites for me. DeStefano had me connecting with her characters almost immediately and I couldn't put her book down. I'm hoping this installment puts readers at ease, at least a little after the cliff hanger the series opener left us with. But Rhine and Gabriel are not out of the woods yet and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next.

Countdown Pick #3:
Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (1/10/11)

The highly anticipated sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.

It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

I adore Beth and her writing has always been fun and manages to pique my interest. I don't know many readers who didn't enjoy her series opener, not to mention who didn't want to get their hands on this sequel. I can't wait to see what Jessica and Lucius' lives are like now. It seems that married bliss is not quite attainable for these two quite yet and now Jessica's got to do the protecting, the investigating, and the rescuing all on her own. I'm curious to see how she fares.

Countdown Pick #4:
Betrayed (Guardian Legacy, #2) by Ednah Walters

Lil has come to terms with her life as a Guardian/demon hunter and the wielder of the Nephilim most powerful weapon. She trains everyday to master her growing powers, gets along with her Guardian trainee friends (most of the time) and cherishes her moments with her human friends.

Just when she feels she belongs, her nature-bender father contacts her and warns her about a betrayal by someone close to her. Then Bran, the guy she loves, starts to act strange and one of her human friends acquires a supernatural ability. While Lil struggles find a connection between these three things, she begins to realize that someone is manipulating her and Bran, and will stop at nothing (including hurting those she loves) to lure them to the dark side.

When Ednah contacted me last year and introduced her book Awakened, to me, I figured why not? The cover didn't thrill me but I let that slide. I can't tell you how glad I was that I gave this series a chance because now I'm hooked. Lil and Bran were two characters that I just couldn't get enough of. But what I really liked was that Walters had me wanting to know more about not just the two main characters, but all the surrounding and supporting characters as well. I've heard promising reviews of this sequel and can't wait to read and judge it for myself.

Countdown Pick #5: Charmfall (Dark Elite, #3) by Chloe Neill (1/3/12)
High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death…

Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you’re a sophomore. So when the girls of St. Sophia’s start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good, old-fashioned party prep—even if it means not giving demons, vampires and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention.

But when a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily doesn’t forget what she’s sworn to protect. She reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone. And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines…

After leaving Hexbound, feeling slightly disappointed with the way things are looking for Lily and her friends, I'm really hoping some luck finds its way to them and soon! I've found Neill's books to be light and fun for the most part and I always hit a point near the end of the summer where a deep read is not what I'm in the mood for. Hopefully with this coming out in January it'll be the perfect opportunity to fill the post-holiday blues with a new installment in this series.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Countdown: New Author Edition

My TBR pile is always on the rise and I never seem to be able to catch up, but yet I can't help constantly adding new titles to my list. For now I'm trying to shift my order around and try out some authors I've never read before. I've heard of great authors from friends and fellow bloggers/readers that have enjoyed them before. Some are just books I found randomly by authors I either hadn't heard of before or hadn't had the chance to read before now.

So I'm determined to check them out and possibly add some new faves to my list, not to mention maybe add a series or two to start following. Here are a few titles I'm looking forward to checking out!

Countdown Pick #1: Everneath (Everneath, #1) by Brodi Ashton (1/3/2011)

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Can I just triangle? Ashton's new trilogy seems to revolve around good vs. evil, doing what's right even if it's not easy, and painful goodbyes. Why I want to put myself through a story that looks to have the makings of a tear fest I'm not sure. But honestly it just sounds too good to pass up.

Countdown Pick #2: Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) by Tahereh Mafi (11/15/2011)

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

When I read this book's description I was curious. Dystopian novels are a new interest of mine, but it still has to have the right combination of elements for it to turn me into a fan. But if they're comparing it to The Hunger Games, and X-Men, I'm down to give it a chance. The main character, Juliette sounds like a heroine I could root for and the "evil" government-like agency in control definitely has the potential for me to despise. It all sounds like a series that could have me hooked for a while.

Countdown Pick #3: Hourglass (Hourglass, #1) by Myra McEntire

One hour to rewrite the past . . .
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?
I haven't read a good mystery in a while and if you can throw in a little romance there's a good chance my interest will be piqued. With a main character who can see ghosts and a mysterious guy who believes in her abilities, McEntire sets an atmosphere for her novel that I find hard to resist. I'm not sure if mysteries will make a comeback and headline my bookshelf, but this one's got potential.

Countdown Pick #4: Lost Voices (Lost Voices, #1) by Sarah Porter

When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.

So glad I didn't know about this one before it came out because I think the wait and countdown may have been the death of me. Mermaids are one of the few paranormal creatures that I don't think have gotten shelf time. I love the idea of this spin, the way young girls are turned into mermaids, their dark side and desires, the whole deal.

Luce sounds like a promising lead and I'm anxious to see if she can hang onto her humanity, or if she'll fade into her new life and role and use her voice to draw in her prey. It's all very hair raising and gives me nothing but goose bumps, but hopefully I'll overcome the trepidation and pick this one up soon so I can find out for myself how things turn out for Luce and the rest of the mermaids.

Countdown Pick #5: Wildefire (Wildefire, #1) by Karsten Knight

Every flame begins with a spark.
Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned.
Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.
Gods and goddesses, a private school backdrop, and hot romances brewing, what is not to love? While I'm unfamiliar with Knight's work, if this turns out to be half as good as it sounds, I'm thinking that will change. Ashline has a lot of obstacles to overcome but it all sounds like the makings of a crazy ride. This one definitely got moved up on the TBR pile. And a series opener on top of that. I love to find new series that I can follow as a lot of my current series favorites are drawing to a close.

Countdown Pick #6: Epic Fail by Claire Lazebnik

Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

Most know that Jane Austen is my all time favorite author and Pride and Prejudice is beyond reproach in my book. None of that will be changing anytime soon. With that being said I know that some fans say leave well enough alone, but I'm just not one of them. Any spin off or retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I jump at the chance to read it. What better form of flattery to the late Ms. Austen and her devoted fans just get another taste of their beloved characters.

No it's not the original classic itself but a fun twist on the classic stories. Lazebnik's version of events sounds fun, racy, entertaining as all get out and one I can't imagine being anything but fabulous. A Hollywood version of Elizabeth and Darcy....yes please!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . .
different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

Instant fan! This book sat on my shelf for way too long untouched and all I can say is that it was my loss. Armstrong was not an author I was familiar with previously, but I'm a fan now. Her writing moved quickly and flowed smoothly. Her characters were relatable and fun to learn more about and her story was intriguing and addicting. If you're looking for a fast and fun read, this is one to add to our library.

Armstrong introduces readers to a small Canadian town centered around a top secret medical research facility. Hello mystery and intrigue. Each family in town is related to the research in one way or another. Whether the parents are employees of the facility itself or the businesses surrounding it, no one lives in Salmon Creek if they don't have a reason. And that reason is related to the medical facility. This includes our main characters. From the very start I was pulled toward Maya and Daniel and Rafe. They're fabulous. Each of them has secrets, but at the same time I felt like I truly knew them.

A page turner for sure and an excellent start to a new series. I'm anxiously awaiting Armstrong's second installment, The Calling, which is scheduled for release April 10, 2012.

I gave The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1) 3 shamrocks!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Angelfire (Angelfire, #1) by Courtney Allison Moulton

This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

I'm a sucker for Angels and have always loved the old classic battles of good vs. evil. It's so simple but yet intriguing nevertheless. That's how Angelfire grabbed me, but it was the writing and story that kept me tuned in. For the same reasons as most, it's nice to see a heroine come into her own and take a stand.

Ellie's been tormented by terrible nightmares that turn out to be real memories from past lives. So not the newsflash I'd want if I was her. But when the news is delivered by a guy like Will, hey I'd at least be a little more apt to accept what he said as fact. These two have a long and difficult road ahead but it's fun to watch them interact for sure.

Moulton keeps the pace moving on everyone's been introduced and pages will turn without a problem. While some readers might be looking for a tad bit more closure in the end than they got, just remember this is only book one in the series. I'll most certainly be looking forward to the second installment, Wings of the Wicked, due out February 12, 2012, and I don't think I'll be alone.

I gave Angelfire (Angelfire, #1) 3 shamrocks!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

After everything Sophie went through in her first year at Hex Hall I wasn't sure what to expect in this second installment. A smooth and carefree existence is most certainly not in the cards for her. Despite such a dramatic closing I was mainly wondering how things would pan out for Sophie and Archer. I know I wasn't alone in that curiosity either.

Hawkins did not disappoint. With Sophie now wanting to go through the removal process, all the stakes were raised. Starting with...wait for it...Sophie and her dad don't seem to be the only demons as she first thought. Yikes! So along with her father, Jenna, the Heccate Hall grounds keeper Cal, the journey begins as they venture to London and trouble of course follows. While all the original characters I cam to really like were involved, Cal quickly grabbed my attention and held it. So many questions surround him and I was fascinated.

Demonglass really was a great follow up to Hex Hall and proved Hawkins anything but a one hit wonder. She's got a fun and exciting series on her hands and with yet another huge cliffhanger at the end of this installment, the third in this series, Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3) due out March 13, 2012 seems oh so very far away!

I gave Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Stork (Stork, #1) by Wendy Delsol

Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.

Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated.

With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life.

While I find the fantasy genre to always be a place a good book can be easy to find, originality is not always as easy to find. There are tons of unique spins on similar topics, but when I heard about Delsol's story I couldn't resist. Throw in the gorgeous cover they worked with and I was itching to get my hands on a copy of my own. I had no prior knowledge of the Norse lore associated with the story and referenced throughout, but that made it more of a page turner for me, more of the unknown and new to discover.

Katla suffers from being uprooted as a high school student from California to Minnesota, and if that wasn't bad enough in her opinion she discovers she's a Stork. Without revealing too much, Katla's realized she's meant to be a member of an elite and very ancient secret order. Let's just say it was understandable that it took her some time to come to terms with the discovery and her new place in all that was revealed.

Slowly but surely she begins to make head way in the friends department and can I just say... you'll have a lot of fun trying to figure her and Jack out. Secrets are revealed, hardships are weathered, and a lot of tough decisions need to be made, and Katla's caught in the middle of it all.

If you're looking to step out of the normal fantasy material, this might be a good change of pace for you, but without completely turning you upside down. I'm looking forward to see where the rest of this series will go, with the second installment, Frost (Stork, #2) set to hit shelves October, 11, 2011.

I gave Stork (Stork, #1) 3 shamrocks!!!


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