Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Awake at Dawn by C.C. Hunter

16-year old Kylie Galen has been impatiently asking what she is ever since she arrived at Shadow Falls for those who were born at midnight. She learned that she was different from other kids in the camp and that puzzle remains unsolved.

The entire Shadow Falls camp (which includes vampires, werewolves, fairies and shape-shifters) has been impatiently trying to figure out what Kylie is so that they can coddle her into joining their group.

It’s obvious that she’s not 100 percent human. It also appears that she’s not a vampire, a werewolf, or a fairy. She’s also not a shape shifter. Over the course of this story, she gains some amazing new abilities, including the ability to ghost whisper and the ability to heal those who are injured.

Kylie is also being haunted by a ghost who continues to say that something awful is going to happen to someone she knows and that she needs to do something to stop it from happening. Kylie tries patiently to work with the ghosts to figure out who is in trouble, and what she can do to save them, but her patience it put through the wringer at times.

In the meantime, Kylie is also searching for more information about her real father Daniel Brighten and his family. Daniel died before she was born, but knows that he was adopted. She still wants to know how she ended up with the abilities she has and where they came from. She even goes as far as hiring a private investigator to find them for her. This storyline obviously continues into the next book sinc Ms Hunter seems intent on pulling readers along for the ride, without giving too much away.

Kylie’s feelings towards Lucas (werewolf), who she has known since she was 5 years old, are a bit taxed after he returns to Shadow Falls after being away saving his sister. It doesn’t help that Lucas helps save Kylie from a rogue vampire bent on making Kylie his wife against her.

It also doesn't help that Derek goes AWOL from the equation as he takes the nearest exit in their relationship after agreeing to work for the Fallen Research Unit and having his poor feelings hurt by Kylie. Pardon me Derek, but she’s a teenager. A female teenager! Teens are confused, especially females. Maybe boys can make up their minds since their brains lay between their legs, But, girls need time to discover their feelings and their true love before settling down with one person. They also don't make the best choices at times. Cut her some slack Jack!

Whoa, did I just write that part?

As much as I abhor 3-way love triangles, in the YA genre you almost have to expect it’s going to occur at one point or the other. If they are written well, and the outcome isn’t all that clear, then I pretty much can deal with whatever happens in the end. I only hope that this 3 way doesn’t continue until the end of the series.

Kylie isn’t a bad character to follow. She’s charming, easy to deal with, and has a truly good heart that is also easily broken by idiots like Derek who won’t give her a chance to clarify her feelings toward him. She wants the best for her best friends Miranda and Della who both experience turbulence in this story and are truly annoying at other times. She even goes as far as trying to play matchmaker between Burnett and Holiday.

By the end of the book, the question(s) “What Am I” or “What are you?” are left unanswered. One can only hope that we aren’t dragged along for another book before finally having these questions answered for us.

Awake at Dawn is the second book in the Shadow Falls series. Taken at Dusk releases April 10, 2012 by St. Martin’s Press

Waiting on Wednesday


After escaping secret government cells and destroying a Miami landmark, Sylvie’s trying to lay low—something that gets easier when a magical force starts taking out her enemies. But these magical attacks are a risk to bystanders, and Sylvie can’t let that slide.  
When the war between the government and the magical world threatens the three people closest to her—her assistant, her sister, and her lover—Sylvie has no choice but to get involved with hidden powers bent on shaping the world to their liking. Now, with death and disaster on the horizon, even if Sylvie wins, things will never be the same.
 
Publisher: Ace (April 24, 2012)



Monday, February 27, 2012

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

*Synopsis*


Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy # 2) picks up shortly after Touch of Frost left off. 17-year old Gwen Frost is a gypsy girl who uses her psychometry abilities to find lost things. She can tell the history of said object simply by touching it which lead her to being placed at Mythos Academy in the first place. 


Gwen has been designated by Nike, the Goddess of Victory, to be her Champion and carries a sword named “Vic” almost everywhere she goes.


Gwen has been forced to learn how to defend herself with not only her own sword, but with a bow and arrow as well after she was involved in the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Jasmine Ashton and her death. Ashton was a Reaper who followed the destructive path of the God of Chaos himself, Loki.


It isn't long before Gwen is once again the focus of attacks, supposedly by a Reaper seeking vengeance for Jasmine’s death. Naturally, Gwen doesn't tell anyone, and the incident goes without notice by the Pantheon of Mythos Academy, including Professor Metis who Gwen is supposed to trust with this information.


This all comes to a boil when on a trip to Winter Carnival; Gwen is once again targeted by a Reaper and a Fenrir Wolf who wants her dead.


Gwen learns some valuable lessons over the course of this book. The first is that she can use her psychometry abilities in order to learn how to use a bow & arrow and her sword against an opponent that wants her dead. She has effectively turned into a weapon that is able to fight back instead of cowering behind others.


The most important fact that Gwen learns along the way is that people have been lying to her from the very start about what really happened to her mother, and why. It now appears that Gwen holds the key to whether or not the Reapers are successful in breaking Loki out of his prison.


*Gwen Frost’s World*


Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series features Vikings, Romans, Samurai’s, Celts, Valkyries, Amazons, Ninja’s and Spartans. It combines Norse, Greek and Egyptian Mythologies. Of course, Gwen is the only gypsy at the school, but she understands that the gods have also given them a purpose in this world as well just like her mother, and grandmother before her.


For Gwen, she is her usual snarky self but also a bit dreary and repetitive at times as well. Her ability of reminding people that (1) her mother is dead, (2) that her mother told her to breathe whenever she was stressed out or in difficult situations, and (3) that she is just a gypsy and was not privileged with money and training since she was born, is just downright annoying. Fine Gwen, we get it, but you now have plenty of support and opportunities to learn how to defend yourself and even make friends in your school if you truly wanted to.


On the positive side, Gwen seems to have made some long lasting friends in her best friend Daphne Cruz (Valkyrie), Carson Callahan (Celt), and Oliver Hector (Spartan). Later, of course, Logan comes to the rescue and it’s obvious that he has been hiding his true feelings for Gwen.


*Overall Thoughts*


Hmmm, how should I put this to not put off my desire to continue reading this series as well as her Elemental Assassin series? Estep loves to recap what happened over the course of the previous book, or series. She kicks the horse in the head until it is truly dead and being processed into shoe leather. I’m not sure what the point of doing this is other than she is trying to catch those who have not read the previous books but decided to join in the middle of the series.


There really isn’t any mystery as to who is behind the attacks on Gwen and why. Gwen was told at the end of Touch of Frost that Jasmine’s family blamed her for her death and to be prepared for their retribution. 


So, when the actual villain is introduced upon arriving at the Winter Carnival, and after learning some key facts about him by Daphne, warning lights should have been blinking like mad.

Unfortunately, Gwen is so teed off at Logan that she instead aims at a totally innocent and sad character whom I hope gets his own happy ending before the end of this series.

Gwen’s failure of telling anyone, especially Professor Metis, what’s happening to her, especially with the Fenrir Wolf, is a key factor into what eventually happens in the end.


Thankfully, I already have Dark Frost on my Kindle which I intend on reading soon! It was also announced that Book # 4 is called Crimson Frost and releases in 2013.



*Rating* 3.5
*Genre* YA Paranormal

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Demon Underground by S.L. Wright

Demon Underground (Allay # 2) pretty much begins where Confessions of a Demon (Allay # 1) left off. The head of Allay’s demon line (Vex) has been killed by Ram, and now the demon world is in turmoil trying to figure out who is in charge, and what they should do about Allay who has become a target for nearly every demon in NYC.


Allay has mostly accepted the fact that she’s no longer truly human and now needs to kill another demon every 200 years in order to survive. Allay feeds on people’s sweet elixir of life and their emotions giving them a release from their fits and rages while owning and operating a bar called Den on C.
  
Allay is also forced to make some difficult choices along the way to becoming comfortable with herself and her situation as a demon. Unfortunately for Allay, her friends dwindle by the minute after she knowingly exposes demons to the human world.
  
Shock is a real disappointment for me especially since she pretty much shoved Allay into feeding off another demon in order to live. She ends up treating Allay as though she is a danger to her, and the rest of the demons in the city, and their friendship abruptly comes to an end. I really can’t find fault in Allay’s actions for decisions which were based on saving those she cared about, which included Shock at the time.


She also has an offspring named Bliss. Like every other demon offspring, Bliss has the memories of her progenitor Allay. Bliss is a succubus demon who feeds off sexual emotions. Bliss is also firmly in Allay’s camp as a supporter after Shock decides she can’t handle what is Allay is becoming.


Ram, the oldest demon in existence, is still on the loose after killing Vex. Ram enjoys killing demons that hurt humans or attempt to harm Allay. The only real question where Ram is concerned is whether or not he truly loves Allay, or is he using her like the other so called love of his life Hope who was also a possessed human like Allay.


I think one of the more interesting demons was Mystify who clearly has the emotions of his progenitor Ram when it comes to Allay. Mystify plays important roles throughout this novel, and I really thought that Allay and he would make a play at each other.


If you’re like me, you will not take the books description seriously. Yes, part of the book does take place underground with Allay, Mystify, Bliss and Crave, but not a lot of it. The part that does take part underground is well done, and is well descriptive of the life homeless people choose as a way to survive.


The ending of Demon Underground leaves questions on whether or not this series will be continued. Since this book came out in 2010, and it’s 2012, I highly doubt it will.



In My Mailbox

Good Sunday to everyone!
Below are the books that I either borrowed from the library, received via publishers, or was approved via NetGalley.com

Borrowed from the Library


Received for Review from Publishers

Received from NetGalley.com



Saturday, February 25, 2012

Currently Reading

Logan Quinn was trying to kill me. My Spartan classmate relentlessly pursued me, swinging his sword at me over and over again, the shining silver blade inching closer to my throat every time. A smile tugged up his lips, and his ice-blue eyes practically glowed with the thrill of battle …

I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Academy, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive the rest of the semester. One day, I’m getting schooled in swordplay by the guy who broke my heart — the drop-dead gorgeous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invisible archer in the Library of Antiquities decides to use me for target practice. And now, I find out that someone at the academy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword — with Logan’s help — I just might die by the sword

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Imagine a world where chocolate is considered to be a contraband item and caffeine is illegal yet alcohol is freely consumed by nearly everyone. It’s a world where water is so scarce, that it is being rationed out to the general public and you need ration cards for a simple candle. It’s a world where minors are barred from using Facebook, Twitter and all other social networks without a license to publish.

It is a world where teenagers have no clue what OMG actually means and where minors under 18 aren’t allowed to have their own phones, and the phones they do have, cameras aren’t included in them. It’s a world where the Statue of Liberty is basically a prison camp for minors who have broken the law in one way or the other.

All These Things I've Done, the first book in the Birthright series, takes place in the year 2083 where sixteen year old Anyaschka (Anya/Annie) Balanchine, the daughter of a dead mob boss, lives in New York City with her older brother Leonyd, and younger sister Natalya.

To me, this was like an episode of the Mob Wives and not a dystopian fantasy novel. Our main character, Anya, is a Russian-American teenager who is forced into dealing with life’s lesson of survival and betrayal before she is even out of high school while finding love with someone that would be otherwise untouchable. Anya, in reality, is the head of her family even though she is the middle child. It's forced her into being a little more realistic about her situation and the world she lives in.

The one thing I am confused about is how this world turned out to be so awful. If I’m reading between the lines, it appears that some sort of infectious outbreak took place but it never is fully explained which absolutely boggles my mind and thus leaves me with a feeling of letdown and betrayal.

The male romance interest, Goodwin (Win) Delacroix, is the boy across the tracks on the good side of town. His father is an important person in the District Attorney’s office who basically goes out of his way to ensure that Win doesn’t end up with Anya who he considers to be nothing more than mob pond scum not worthy of mention or notice.

As a Catholic, there are times I really want to scream out loud that not all of us were brought up the same way and that our views on the world aren’t based on what the Vatican, the Church leadership, or even some fooked up Politician tells us.

In this story, Anya reserves herself from sex and goes to penance because of her promise to her father that she wouldn’t do the nasty until she was married. In all fairness, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea and I supported her decision until she nearly lost her marbles and did it anyway which seemed at the time to be out of spite rather than actual love for Win.

I'm most likely going to continue on with the next book in the series called "Because It Is In My Blood" which releases September 18th 2012 because I want to see how Zevin resolves several issues with Anya, her sister, and her brother who went into hiding at the end of the book.


Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz

Spellcaster takes place four months after seventeen year old Emma Conner and her soul mate Brendan Salinger broke a curse that had plagued the couple for centuries in Spellbound. Emma has been keeping herself pretty busy by working after school in the library, taking witch classes with her BFF Angelique, Kickboxing classes suggested by Brendan, as well as trying to maintain her grades and studying for the SAT prep.

Emma, though, is clearly having problems adjusting to the fact that she’s a reincarnated witch. Call it witches block if you like where she just can’t seem to get her magic spells to cooperate with her. She is still considered to be an outcast at her school Vincent Academy where the rich kids hang out and belittle those who aren't like them.

Almost immediately the story picks up on the fact that Emma has picked up a stalker who means to harm her and Brendan’s relationship because of the whole soul mater situation. Said stalker goes as far as setting up Brendan for drugs, attacking Emma on a field trip, hurting Emma’s cousin Ashley, and demanding that Emma give her blood to said stalker so that she can pray to her demon god.

Spellcaster centers a lot more on witchcraft than did Spellbound. After being put into one difficult situation after the other, Emma is forced to learn how to deal with her magical abilities and ending her block before those she loves end up badly hurt.

Emma is a much stronger lead character this time around than in Spellbound. She comes out of her shell, and ends up protecting herself and others from malevolent stalkers and school mates who think she’s nothing special. She realizes that she really loves Brendan, but doesn’t need his protection every single minute of the day.

Angelique plays a more important in Spellcaster since she’s pretty much Emma’s only real source of learning how to do witchcraft and protecting herself from the stalker. It’s interesting to see how Shultz decided to do a little mending of fences between Angelique and Brendan when they both realize that Emma doesn’t need to be protected 24/7/365.

I found parts of the dialogue in Spellcaster to be a bit cheesy at times, but then I took a step away from the book and tried to put myself into the shoes of a 14-21 year old teenager who would be reading this book and not an adult who rolls her eyes everytime something silly happens. Ok, yes, I even found humor in different aspects of this story.

The love affair between Emma and Brendan is sweet, and Shultz doesn’t force sex into the equation even though Brendan has had his share of scores over the years and Emma is slowly coming to the realization that she wants to take the next step. It’s nice to be able to follow Emma around without wanting to smack her in the head from being a lame brained idiot.

Overall, for me this was better than the first book. The story made sense, the outcome was as expected but still left enough mysteries not to spoil it for me. Said stalker was pretty much outed at a crucial point in the story, and slowly picked up pace after that. Plus, for me, not having sex in this book really made a lot more sense than forcing the issue on the characters.

*ARC Received via Netgalley.com for Harlequin Teen
Releases March 27, 2012

March Review Copy Cleanup!


Welcome to the 2012 Review Copy Cleanup!
This challenge is being run by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews and Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea Reviews. They were getting swamped with review books. They decided to make it all a bit more fun and are challenging you all to read your review copies with us!

So in honor of the Ides of March, I thought I would join in on the fun as well since I have a fair number of ARC's not only from publishers, but from NetGalley.com as well.

Join in on the challenge! I know I'm not the only one with piles of books that need to be read and reviewed! :)

Challenge schedule:

✦ March 2 - Show Off Your Pile
✦ March 9 - Cuddle Up With a Book
✦ March 16 - Don't Be Such a Tease!
✦ March 23 - Mysterious Meet-up
✦ March 30 - Love Will Find a Way

Here is my tentative list:

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson
The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz
Darkest Knight by Karen Duvall
The Prophet by Amanda Stevens
Burn Mark by Laura Powell
Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
The Innocent by David Baldacci
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Under Suspicion by Hannah Jayne
Stalking the Others by Jess Haines
Deliverance by Dakota Banks
Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett

*Note* Obviously if I have any additions to this list, I shall update my challenge when the time comes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Currently Reading 02/24/2012

Finding your eternal soulmate - easy.

Stopping a true-love-hungry evil - not so much…

After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although...it's not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a sixteen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain-especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close....

But something dark and hungry is using Emma and Brendan's deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma's crash course in ├╝ber-spells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own.(less)
ARC received from Netgalley.com
Expected publication: March 27th 2012 by Harlequin Teen

ISBN 13: 9780373210503)
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.



Hardcover, 354 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

ISBN13: 9780374302108

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Welcome to my third Feature and Follow!
I'd love to see your comments and pictures in response to this question:

Q: Activity!!! Take a picture or describe where you love to read the most..

I don't currently have a camera, so, my favorite spot to read is in my recliner with the radio playing the 80's in the background. I was going to say the beach, but I spend more time at home than I do there!

Currently Reading 02/23/2012

Half-human and half-demon, Allay has finally warmed up to her new life feeding off the customers at her downtown bar whens he finds herself brokering a truce between New York City's most powerful demons. But when she senses assassins around every corner, Allay hides out of sight and underground-until combatants in the growing war tempt her back above the surface...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Currently Reading

The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)
byAmanda Stevens

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town...

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth

Black Dust Mambo by Adrian Phoenix

*Review*

Kallie Riveri is a root worker or hoodoo apprentice from the Bayou Cypress Noir who is in New Orleans for the Hecatean Alliance's May Madness Carnival aka Carnival of Fools. After spending the night doing heavy drinking and having hot sex, she wakes in her hotel room to find her lover Gage dead.

Things go from Holy crap to what the hell is happening here, when nomad Layne Valin shows at her room asking for Gage, his nomad brother. After discovering Gage dead, and Kallie covered in blood, Layne, (who happens to be a hellfire or vessel for the dead), tries to connect to Gage’s departed soul to no use. Layne discovers that Gage’s soul has been destroyed by a black curse.

Kallie has a short fused temper and spends most of the first part of the book in skimpy clothing (underwear and bra). Soon thereafter, she is considered to be the prime subject for Gage’s murder by Lord Basil Augustine of the Hecatean Alliance. A fact that is quickly remedied after Basil is shot.

Kallie is an obnoxious character at times who is unwilling to believe that anyone is trying to protect her or that she needs protection in the first place from those who are trying to kill her. She can’t help but to reach out and touch someone with her fist without thinking things out first including those who are her friends. The one positive about her seems to be her ability to thwart evil Black Dust Mambo or curses by the bad guy because of a major secret that is revealed at the end of the story.

One of the best lines of the book was said by Lord Augustine, the Hecatean Alliance leader, when he says to Kallie “You really must stop punching people. Have you considered anger management or a twelve-step program for quick-fisted pugilists?” Ok, yes, I laughed my silly head off. Hey, it was 2:30 in the morning!

Black Dust Mambo is first book in the series thus there are a lot of characters introduced, as well as a major cliffhanger that just ends when things are getting really good especially between Kallie and Layne. Then again, this is pretty much typical of Adrian Phoenix’s writing style following on the heels of her series The Maker’s Song.

All you need to know about the rest of the characters is this:
Belladonna Brown is a mambo, or voodoo priestess. She is Kallie's best friend and is a riot when it comes to men’s wet boxer competition and her protectiveness of Kallie when she gets in over her head.

Dallas Bruler is also a root doctor who studied and apprenticed under Kallie’s aunt Gabrielle LaRue. He was sent to protect Kallie and nearly ends up dead by the villain with a major vendetta against LaRue. He is definitely a man whore who sleeps with other men’s wives, and has a bounty on his head from more than a few of them.

Layne Valin is a nomad, as well as a living breathing spirit cabinet whose body is used to find out the truth from the deceased about what happened. *Note* the nomad aspect was never truly explained, but it appears they are outside of the Hecatean Alliances spear of influence. Valin is also the so called love interest for Kallie that really isn’t fully explored because of all that is happening around both characters.

Gabrielle LaRue, Kallie’s supposed Aunt and mentor, has a bunch of secrets which are exposed at the end of the story.

Black Heart Loa is the second novel in this series and released June 28, 2011 by Pocket Books.


 

Cover Reveal

Nancy Holzner's
Darklands
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 31st 2012 by Ace

If you have followed this series, you will have noticed that the artist hasn't really caught her full face for effect. Now, we actually get to get a
up close and personal look at Vicky. So, what do you think of the new cover?

Waiting on Wednesday



Book Description
Publication date: July 3, 2012

Vampires, werewolves, mages–the Others are very real, and wreaking havoc in Shiarra Waynest’s life. But now, she’s returning the favor…

Once, she was one of the good guys–or as close as a New York P.I. can get. Then Shiarra Waynest was drawn into the world of the Others. Every faction has its own loyalties and agenda. And Shia’s recent betrayal by her ex-boyfriend means that she may be on the verge of becoming a rogue werewolf at the next full moon.

Of course, with all the threats against her, Shia’s not sure she’ll live long enough to find out. The enigmatic vampire Royce wants her back in his clutches, as do two powerful werewolf packs, along with the police. Instead of going into hiding, Shia is enlisting the aid of her enchanted hunter’s belt and every dirty P.I. trick she knows. If she’s going down, she’ll take out as many of her enemies as she can–and hope that in the process, she keeps whatever humanity she has left.

This is my first Waiting on Wednesday feature and hope to continue doing so on a weekly basis. I just received this in my mailbox and am giddy with excitement to read the book. The cover is awesome, and Shiarra looks like the badass heroine I tend to follow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

The year is 2026 and 17 year old Ari Selkirk is searching for answers about what really happened to her mother 13 years ago that forced her to leave her behind in foster care. Ari, who has silver hair that seems to have a mind of its own, as well as blue eyes that can pierce your soul, has been with foster parents ever since and she doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of her age group.

Her current foster parents, Bruce & Casey Sanderson, run a Bails & Bonds office where Ari has been trained to use various weapons, as well as protecting herself against attacks. They also appear to be open about allowing Ari to explorer her past without being treated as a child.
Ari’s search for answers about her mother’s fate start at a state mental asylum where Ari learns that her mother appears to have committed suicide after escaping from New 2, better known as the former New Orleans which was destroyed by hurricanes and where Ari herself was born.
Ari soon finds a letter written by her mother telling her to run and stay away from New 2 and those who can ID who she really is. Soon after, she is attacked by a mysterious man who mutters the curse “By the will of Athana potniya, I release you from this life.”
Ari, not letting a thing like almost dying scare her off, heads on a solo mission to New 2 where she runs into Crank, Henri, Dub, Violet, and of course, Sebastian who she pretty much falls hard for shortly after their first meeting which is more than typical of the YA genre.
New 2 is a paranormal wonderland with vampires, witches, demigod/shifters, and Greek Gods straight out of Mythology. Is Ari cursed like her mother and the rest of the women in her family? If so, when will the curse finally rear its ugly head? What secrets do the Novem (9 original families who now own New 2) hold and can they help stave off her curse before she ends up like her mother?
This, my friends, is one of the better YA stories I've read in a very long time. I love the fact that Keaton (Gay) stepped away from her Charlie Madigan series to write this mini-series that follows Ari as she learns the stunning truth about her heritage and what she is truly capable of.
Ari is one of the strongest female YA characters you will find which isn’t surprising to me since Charlie Madigan is no push-over either. When attacked, she fights back instead of wilting and running away like an un-watered and under-fed flower.
My only beef, as with others, is how easily swayed Ari becomes at Sebastian’s charm to the point of disbelief that somehow could actually fall that hard that fast.
Darkness Becomes Her could be considered part dystopian, romance, fantasy, and as well as a bit of Greek Mythology mixed in to make things interesting. This is the first book in the Gods & Monsters series and I will definitely be looking forward to reading A Beautiful Evil as soon as I can lay my hands on it.
Published: February 22, 2011 by Simon Pulse



Monday, February 20, 2012

Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Shadow City is the third novel in the Horngate Witches series and is really two separate tales that eventually merge into one. Shadow City begins like the previous installments with trouble heading towards Horngate, but this time Max is away on a mission with Scooter, and it’s up to Alexander to pull out the resources necessary to prevent a cataclysm of epic proportions.

Alexander remains steadfast in his refusal to become Prime of Horngate’s Shadowblades until he finally has no choice in the matter. He firmly believes in Magpies prophecy that claims that if he does, Max will never come home again or she will die. Of course, he is the only one who knows about the prophecy which drives a temporary wedge between him, the angels, and the blades
.
Alexander still doesn’t have the backing of Giselle, the powerful witch of Horngate, who was responsible for changing Max into a Shadowblade. As for the rest of the Blades, they continue to demand that he step up and take charge since the world is a precipice of danger and there is evidence that a more powerful force has targeted Horngate for destruction.

This story could be a coming out of sorts for Alexander who has pretty much been a secondary character until now. Alex realizes that his feelings for Max are true and unbreakable but she drives him absolutely nuts in more ways than one.

Alex’s challenge remains a rough one; find a way to stop a Fury from rising and destroying Horngate, or die trying. Alex is more than a one dimensional character. He stands up to Giselle and has finally become comfortable being at Horngate with the rest of the surviving blades and witches.

*I can honestly say I was NOT surprised by a certain scene when Max decides she needs help and runs into Alexander in her bedroom. Key the hooozah chakala boom boom!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When we left Max in Crimson Winds, she was being spirited away by Scooter, the demigod after promising him she would help as well as the fact that Giselle pretty much gave her away in an effort to protect the Horngate homestead against further attacks by the Guardians.

After facing a brutal training regimen at the hands of Max and being on the brink of death numerous times, Max discovers Scooter’s reason for taking her away from Horngate in the first place.  Max needs to find a way to travel the abyss to Scooters home world of Chadare so that she can save him from dying as well as retrieving his missing body parts.

Upon arriving in Chadare, Max discovers a whole new world with various creatures she’s never seen before, let alone heard of. Max finds new and powerful enemies, as well as an ally named Ilanion who reminds her of the angels that protect Horngate Covenstead in his strength and determination.

Max realizes her mission is a serious one in that she must find Scooters (Nayan) missing horn, silk, and heart before he dies. Scooter has slowly become part of Max’s extended family even though he forced a lot of pain and suffering on her. In the meanwhile, time is ticking away, and Nayan’s enemies will do anything to get their hands on him.

Max ends up not only dealing with Scooters pending death and retrieving his body parts, but a painful loss of a person very close to her back at the Covenstead.  Several key and important characters fall by the wayside in this story; one of which is pretty close to Max.

Max really is an interesting and serious character that you can’t help but to cheer for. Ever since she was 21, and Giselle pretty much destroyed her life by turning her into a Shadowblade, she has been fighting the good fight while rebelling against Giselle and trying to find a way to break her bonds to the powerful witch.
Max has the ability to get through any locks, regardless of whether they are magically bound or not. Now, with her new ability to travel the abyss, it makes her even more of a formidable force.

The only real negative for me was the switching of character POV’s after pretty much each chapter for the first half or so of this book. Max and Alexander both had severe issues to deal with, and it wasn’t until Max realizes that she needs help, that the stories meld together.

I loved the darkness of this story, as well as the Urban Warfare meets Gladiator fight to the death towards the end of the book. I also was impressed by Giselle’s willingness to put herself on the line for Max, Scooter, and her Blades. We shall see if that lasts beyond this story.

The ending left me with more questions, than answers, but I guess that’s a good sign in that there will be a fourth novel in this series.

Title: Shadow City
Author: Pharaoh Francis
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy

Reading Now

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lissa Price's Starters

*Rating* 3.0 stars
*Review*

Starters, by Lissa Price, is a dystopian story about 16-year old Callie Woodland and her fight to make a better life for herself and that of 7 year old brother Tyler.

The Spore Wars destroyed the population between the ages of twenty and sixty because they weren’t vaccinated by a clueless government. This left the population divided into two camps: Starters (up to age 19), and Enders (who can be up to 200 years old).

Callie and Tyler, who experiences a rare lung disease, are Starters who have been living off the streets since losing their parents to the spores. Callie decides that she has had enough of living on the streets of Los Angeles (Beverly Hills) where renegade kids steal everything from the clothes you wear, to the food you scavenge, to the place where you lay your heads to sleep at night.

Callie's only hope of finding help for Tyler and getting off the streets permanently seems to be a place called Prime Destinations. Prime Destination hires teens who supposedly have no families (unclaimed) to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again.

Callie undergoes several surgeries that enhance her looks, as well has having an electronic tracking device planted into her brain. This is also a mechanism that is supposed to keep the Enders from killing anyone and laying blame on the Starters.

After two successful “trips” by Enders, Callie later wakes up and she finds herself in the home of Helena Winterhill, the Ender who paid good money to rent her body. Helena, however, wants to use Callie for nefarious activities after losing her only granddaughter to mysterious circumstances.

*Thoughts*

While the first part of the story dragged, and was more or less an information dump to set up the next book in the series--the ending left me screaming in agony because of a surprise revelation that will leave readers stunned. Dare I say that I truly hate cliffhangers?

Callie is definitely not a wallflower who hides behind anybody including her friend Michael. She goes out, takes charge, and fights back against not only Helena’s agenda, but Prime Destinations as well. I like how protective she is of Tyler, and is willing to give her body away in order for a future off the streets.

The problem I have with a singular POV, at times, is that the other characters in the story aren’t given a chance to shine. In this case, Michael and Tyler, as well as a few other important players, are tossed aside like so much trash after they are introduced. Sure, they have the joy of meeting and interacting with Callie and some even play a large role in how the story ends. But, we know almost nothing about them.

So, I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. Not everyone will enjoy this book. I had a hard time with the plot at times, and the ending of course could have stopped a few pages before.

As I was writing this review, I was reminded of Bruce Willis in the movie called Surrogates which was just on TV. It’s the same basic principle except the Surrogates are teenagers, and not artificial people.

Enders releases sometime during the winter of 2012.

*Recvd via Netgalley for review 01/26/2012*

Currently Reading

by
The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had--even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. Original.




Saturday, February 18, 2012

Restless Soul (Rogue Angel # 28) Alex Archer

*Rating* 3.0
*Genre* Fiction, Science Fiction

*Series synopsis*

Annja Creed is a world-traveling archaeologist with a penchant for adventure, lost cities, mysterious codes and puzzles, and shadowy history that was never recorded. Heir to Joan of Arc's mystic sword, Annja finds herself drawn into the webs of darkest villainy with lives on the line. As one of hosts of Chasing History’s Monsters, Annya is always on the lookout for strange and unusual happenings around the globe.

*The Story*

Restless Soul, Rogue Angel #28, begins in an unusual way for our heroine Annya Creed; she is actually trying to take a much needed vacation with an Argentinian archaeologist named Luartaro (Lu) Agustin who she may, or may not have feelings for.

After flying off on a whim to Thailand, Lu and Annya enjoy some much needed down time together. Naturally, one thing leads to another and they end up cave exploring. Annya and Lu end up stuck in the middle of large scale operation of relic traffickers who kill anyone who gets in their way. This after they discover vast amounts of relics and coffins.

What really gets Annya’s attention is the so called Human Skull bowl containing US military dog tags. They appear to be covered in blood and are at least 40 years old. (Obviously they are from dead US GIs that served during the Vietnam War).

Annya later learns that the markings are intended to keep the souls of the dead in the bowl and away from Voodoo legends Papa Glede, Kalfu, and Legba who guide them to the other side.

Naturally, Annya is a super heroine who refuses to allow the destruction of world’s artifacts and goes after those involved claiming she is reluctant to kill anyone for the sake of killing. She is also seemingly indestructible after being shot so many times, it’s hard to keep track.

This installment has no appearances by either Garin or Roux.

The writer of this story is definitely a person that lives for the fact that we should be careful of our environment and not leave heavy footprints that damage the planet. I don’t disagree with this principle. But, I rather not have writers put their personal views into their story telling when a particular character is in the middle of being of chased by bad guys out to KILL HER!

*Final Thoughts*

This book is unusual in that Annya’s so called love interest, Lu, actually survives to see another day. Obviously there is some truth behind this story of relic hunters in the former Opium Triangle known as Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. There is also the correlation between Voodoo, Hoodoo, and Catholics that is once again played out in a story.

I wouldn’t say this was either the worse, or the best in the series.

To me, I’m hesitant to read about the destruction of natural and national treasures like what happened in Iraq during the war. I’m not surprised to see a writer belittle the American GI’s in Vietnam for stealing treasures and killing arbitrarily. At the same time, the Viet Cong weren’t angels and did their share of atrocities as well. War is hell. People are people and they make bad choices.

Next for me in this series: Tears of the Gods (published July 5, 2011)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Follow Friday Feature

 
Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Allison Can Read, that allows you to meet new bloggers and make more followers.

Q: I like unique names for characters and am looking forward to coming up with some when I start writing. What's the most unique character name you've come across?

A: I love the names Annabelle Lee from Dead on the Delta, Annya from Rogue Angel series, Kaylee from Soul Screamers, Tucker also from Dead on the Delta. Let's not forget Sirantha Jax, Calliope Reaper-Jones, Mercedes Thompson, and Alexia Tarabotti. Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceburg!

Currently Reading


Restless Soul (Rogue Angel #28)
A vacation spot picked at random, Thailand is intended to provide relaxation for archaeologist Annja Creed. Yet the irresistible pull of the country's legendary Spirit Cave lures Annja and her companions deep within a network of underground chambers. Original.
 
 
Blood on the Bayou (Annabelle Lee #2)
he second book in a new urban fantasy series featuring mosquito-sized fairies with poisonous bites that drive humans insane.

It's only been three weeks since Annabelle helped solve the murder of Grace Beauchamp, and in the process, she discovered a secret world of invisible, magic-working people who have decided she might have what it takes to join their ranks.

As best as she can determine, Annabelle’s attack by a group of fairies has infected her with paranormal ability she did not previously possess, including being able to mentally move objects and heal wounds. Her new abilities appear to have few negative side effects, aside from creepy dreams. But would that change if she stopped injecting herself with the mystery drug delivered to her by the even more mysterious Tucker, one of the Invisibles? Leery of trusting criminals with her health, Annabelle wishes she had someone she could talk to about the changes in her life. Enter Hitch, FBI agent and Annabelle's ex, who's back in Donaldsonville on an off-the-books investigation. Hitch suspects that there's a government-funded illegal lab that’s developing a controversial fairy-killing spray that could adversely affect the existence of every living thing in the delta—including humans. And Hitch and Annabelle will have to find a way to work together if they're going to find a way to shut it down
 
 
Starters (Starters #1)
HER WORLD IS CHANGED FOREVER

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined
 

In My Mailbox 02/16/2012

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock. Original.

When the bond Maxine Kiss shares with the demons tattooed on her skin is deliberately severed, the demon hunter is left vulnerable and unprotected. For the first time in 10,000 years, the demons have a taste of freedom. And as the little demons grow more violent and unpredictable, Maxine starts to fear they will lose their minds without her. Original.


Detective Kara Gilligan of the supernatural task force has the ability to summon demons to her aid, but she herself is pledged to serve a demonic lord. And now, people who've hurt Kara in the past are dropping dead for no apparent reason. To clear her name and save both the demon and human worlds, she's in a race against the clock. Original.

Sixteen-year-old Lexi, who lives on an enchanted moor at the edge of the village of Near, must solve the mystery when, the day after a mysterious boy appears in town, children start disappearing.

In post-apocalyptic America, 15-year-old Benny Imura and his friends set out into the great Rot & Ruin hoping to find a better future but are soon pitted against zombies, wild animals, insane murderers, and the horrors of Gameland.
 


After surviving the attacks on September 11, 2001, Dan Lenson finds himself quickly drawn into a covert SEAL team in search of the terrorists responsible. Their mission: kill Osama Bin Laden.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Commander Dan Lenson is visiting the Pentagon, and his wife is at a job interview at the World Trade Center. In the action-packed scenes that follow, Dan fights his way through flames and destruction to safety, and tries to reach his wife on her cell phone, but the terrifying few seconds before they're cut off do nothing to calm his fears.

Dan immediately becomes involved in the military reaction to the attack. His SEAL team is assigned to Task Force Rhino, a mission that takes him to Afghanistan and the borders of Pakistan in order to hunt down, capture, or kill Osama bin Laden and other senior members of the Taliban government and al Qaeda leadership.

The 13th Dan Lenson novel, The Towers is a fascinating, accurate depiction of the events of September 11 and the military response, informed by sources in the Navy, the SEALS, the NCIS, and the author's own military experience. Full of fast-paced sequences and heart-pumping drama, David Poyer takes the reader into the center of the action and face-to-face with the terrorist enemy.


Determined to find out what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months earlier, Kay Scarpetta travels to the Georgia Prison for Women, where an inmate has information not only on Fielding, but also on a string of grisly killings. The murder of an Atlanta family years ago, a young woman on death row, and the inexplicable deaths of homeless people as far away as California seem unrelated. But Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding's death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning of something far more destructive: a terrifying terrain of conspiracy and potential terrorism on an international scale. And she is the only one who can stop it.

Received via Netgalley.com

       

“Betray your sisters or your lover. You choose.”

After the warrior she loves saved her from a murderous gargoyle, Chalice watched helplessly as Aydin turned into a gargoyle himself. Now, free from the curse that enslaved her, Chalice pledges to join her sister knights in The Order of the Hatchet—and do whatever it takes to regain Aydin’s humanity…and his love. What she encounters within their hallowed sanctuary is pure intrigue.

Someone—or something—is murdering her sisters in their sleep, provoking fear and suspicion among the order. Meanwhile, Aydin, unable to stay away, starts haunting Chalice’s dreams, urging her onward. Ultimately, Chalice will be faced with an agonizing choice—one that will tear away at her newfound identity and force her to choose between duty and desire
 
 

My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.

Now I’m faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.