Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lord Of The Abyss, Nalini Singh

Title: Lord Of The Abyss
Author: Nalini Singh (author website)
Release Date: November 22nd 2011 by Harlequin
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star

Lord Of The Abyss is a rather quirky retelling of Beauty and the Beast. For grown-ups. Grown-ups who prefer their fairy-tales with a bit of hot sauce. I love Nalini Singh (she’s like caffeine and chocolate: addictive, and I know can’t be good for me), but I really wasn’t sure what to expect going in. So I'm really not surprised I thoroughly enjoyed it.

From Goodreads:
Once upon a time... the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs... and time is running out...

As the dark Lord who condemns souls to damnation in the Abyss, Micah is nothing but a feared monster wrapped in impenetrable black armor. He has no idea he is the last heir of Elden, its last hope. Only one woman knows—the daughter of his enemy.

Liliana is nothing like her father, the Blood Sorcerer who’d cursed Micah. She sees past Micah’s armor to the prince inside. A prince whose sinful touch she craves. But first she has to brave his dark, dangerous lair and help him remember. Because they only have till midnight to save Elden.

I seriously have no idea how to summarise this one... it’s a bizarre little tale. On a dark, stormy night, Liliana turns up at the gateway to the abyss. Micah, the guardian of the gateway to hell, is intrigued. Used to fear and unquestioning deference from the people around him, this strange little creature talks back, argues, and isn’t afraid of him. Well this almighty beast of a man likes a gal with backbone... but as it turns out, this girl is the daughter of the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, and she’s here to help Micah overthrow him, and return his kingdom to its former glory. Problem: Micah’s hiding a 'beastly' secret. That, and he doesn’t remember who he is.

Firstly: Lord Of The Abyss is actually the fourth book in a four-part series, each written by a different, powerhouse of a romance author, but works as a standalone. Though I haven’t read the prior three, the story was fun and easy to follow.

Once Upon A Time...

Lord Of The Abyss isn’t a complex story. It’s a sweet one, a fun one, with, as all good fairy tales do, a moral twist (more on this later). The book actually reads a lot like a fairy tale. There is, of course, the obligatory Once Upon A Time, and Happily Ever After, but it has a very fairy-tale tone, present in the light, humorous, knowing narration, which carries through to the two main characters. Despite having seen his fair share of horrors, perversions and wickedness, Micah came across as very... while not naive, perhaps a little childlike. Lilianna is a little more wordly, but still has a touch of that inherent innocence and inner-purity that all good Snow Whites, Cindarellas and fairy tale heroines possess (having said this, she's scarred, ballsy, brave, and fiercly intelligent. Do NOT cross this lady). I enjoyed this, and it’s one of the things that makes Lord Of The Abyss so fun and unique. But the whimsical tone seemed, on occasion, a bit odd in contrast with what at times is a very *ahem* ‘grown-up’ (read: explicit) tale.

Pretty On The Inside:

Seriously, I kept picturing Lilianna as
something like this, but dantier XD
Now, as I mentioned, all good fairy-tales have a moral side, right? Just ask Disney. The Lion King has the Circle Of Life/Animals are People Too; Aladdin eventually learns to put other people’s needs, and happiness before his own, and wishes for Genie’s freedom; in Beauty and the Beast, there’s more than meets the eye/it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Wait, did I mention Beauty and the Beast? Well, in Lord Of The Abyss, yes, we have Micah as The Beast, but Lilianna’s a bit of one, too. She’s hook nosed, shaggy haired, and one of her legs is shorter than the other. Others consistently remind her she’s a crone. And she knows it. But Micah, golden surfer-boy gorgeous (most of the time), doesn’t even notice. And as he starts to love her, Lilianna learns to love herself, learns to believe that maybe she is beautiful, because Micah sees her this way. It's sugar-sweet, and I loved this.

The Verdict:

Fairy tale aside, Lord Of The Abyss doesn't shy away from being very hot and very steamy. Despite the slightly sinister sounding name and intimidating man-titty on the cover, Lord Of The Abyss left me with a silly grin and a happy sigh. Well, actually, I lie. I turned the last page, kicked my cat off my lap, and went ‘Aaaaaaww!’ No sighing involved. A fun, quirky, (very) adult twist on the much loved fairy tale, Singh fans will enjoy this quick little read.

Want It?

Get it from Booktopia
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (9): Fated, Sarah Alderson


What is it? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Fated
by Sarah Alderson (author website)
Pub Date: Feb. 2012 by Simon & Schuster Australia

From Goodreads:
What happens when you discover you aren't who you thought you were? And that the person you love is the person who will betray you? If your fate is already determined, can you fight it?

When Evie Tremain discovers that she’s the last in a long line of Demon slayers and that she’s being hunted by an elite band of assassins –Shapeshifters, Vampires and Mixen demons amongst them – she knows she can’t run. They’ll find her wherever she goes. Instead she must learn to stand and fight.

But when the half-human, half-Shadow Warrior Lucas Gray - is sent to spy on Evie and then ordered to kill her before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy, their fates become inextricably linked. The war that has raged for one thousand years between humans and demons is about to reach a devastating and inevitable conclusion. Either one or both of them will die before this war ends.

If your life becomes bound to another’s, what will it take to sever it?

Yes yes, like always, I REALLY like the cover. So atmospheric and intense! Look at her gaze! She's GAZING! But anyhow! Vampires! Demons! Shapeshifters! And SLAYERS? Oh HELL YES. Something about this one sounds so exciting and action-packed, I'm CRAZY excited!

What about you, lovlies? What are you waiting on?

Win one of my favourite 2011 books!
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Unravelling Isobel, Eileen Cook

Title: Uravelling Isobel
Author: Eileen Cook (author website)
Release Date: January 3rd 2012 by Simon Pulse
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 starhalf star

I knew almost nothing about Unravelling Isobel going into it. I’m not sure I’d even read the blurb... and I really enjoyed it. As the story unfolded, and Isobel, well, unravelled, the book got creepier and creepier, I was sucked into its pages, jumping when Isobel did, and nearly screaming out loud along with her. Turn on the lights, and settle in for the ride...

From Goodreads:
Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

So The Story Is...

After her mum meets a guy (online), accepts a proposal and decides to move to an island—all within the space of seven months—to say Isobel isn't exactly feeling real happy about the change in her life right now would be an understatement.

To make matters worse, ten years ago, Isobel's dad abandoned the family after getting treatment for his schizophrenia. When she starts seeing and hearing things in the creepy new MANSION she's now forced to call home, well, she starts seriously doubting her own stability. Its just the creepy new house, and the move. Because ghosts aren't real... Right?

I’d Like To Thank The Cast...

I really enjoyed Isobel. Snarky, sarcastic, and believable, she felt real to me. I enjoyed her expression of herself through her art. The feeling of being misunderstood, so common in YA lit, well, Isobel has fair reason. I loved being in her head, and her internal dialogue. She's deliciously self-aware, and the banter between her and new stepbrother Nathaniel is laugh-out-loud funny and oh-so cute. You guys: be nice to Rudolph. You don't want him to develop Reindeer Issues. Nathaniel is. Just. Umm... Perfect?

Uh, which brings us to Dick. As Izzy's BFF likes to remind her: “Dick's a DICK.” and you guys? He is. He really, really is. Smarmy and slick in all the wrong ways, this guy was born to be a politician. He is the reason we have the word ‘creep’. Honest to goodness. He’s listed next to it in the dictionary. Go look it up. I’m waiting.

And lastly, Isobel's bloody mother. What a freaking BITCH. I don't know about the States, but here, your final score (what you guys call SAT's, I think)? It’s based on class work and exams based on what you learn in year Eleven AND Twelve at school. So uprooting your kid In their final year of high school? Well, essentially, they’re screwed. If the school doesn’t offer the exact same subjects, you can't start a new subject in final year, or you miss half the learning and fail your exams. That, or you don’t have enough units and you don’t even QUALIFY for an SAT type thing. So, uh, to say I thought Isobel's mother was an immature, thoughtless, self-obsessed bad-word is putting it lightly. And she still has the gall to accuse Isobel of being selfish. This is one messed up family. It was ever so slightly AWESOME. I appreciate an author who can illicit that depth of feeling in my reactions.

So really, what I'm getting at? Fabulous, believable, lovable and utterly despicable characters. That's what we're after, right?

Leave The Lights On

But oh. My. Word. This book is creeeeeeeppppy. I'm talking seriously not a great choice to read at home alone with the lights off creepy. In one particularly memorable scene, Isobel's 'friends' decide a séance sounds like a good idea. I couldn't get out of bed afterwards. You know, monsters. Under the bed. Or ghost girls. I'm TWENTY-FREAKING-SEVEN.

Unfortunately, that fantastic creep factor? It seemed to fizzle out in the last third of the book, and as much as I loved 95% of this book, it was let down by a very abrupt ending with a lot of loose strings. These unresolved questions (and I have a few) made me wonder if Unravelling Isobel may be the first book in a series... or perhaps the issues affecting Isobel throughout the book aren't so much meant to be resolved, as indicators of just how badly her life is falling apart.

Who You Calling Crazy?

On a more serious note, I really appreciated the novel confronting mental health issues in an accessible, approachable way. And one particularly memorable scene where Izzy tells it like it is: Schizophrenia is an illness. Just like cancer. So is depression. So are anxiety disorders. I don’t know about you, but I know more than one person who has been directly affected, or afflicted by these conditions. You don’t choose it, you can’t just ‘snap out of it’. Unravelling Isobel is not a ‘serious’ book, but it handles these matters well and sensitively, without being weighed down, dreary, or ever seeming to take itself too seriously.

Verdict:

You guys want creepy? Spooky? Unravelling Isobel is bringing it back. Turn on the lights, and settle in: it’s deliciously reminiscent of an adolescent The Shining... at first. My only criticisms of the deliciously chilling book were an abrupt ending, and a slight loss of that Shining vibe and spooky factor towards the end.

While a truly fun, and at times scary, read, Unravelling Isobel seems to lose steam in its last third, and its rather abrupt, open ending is slightly dissatisfying. Despite this, Unravelling Isobel delivers: A snarky, sarcastic protagonist gives this wonderfully spooky ghost story some giggles, and truly, Unravelling Isobel is a delight.

Monday, December 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (5): The VERY Merry Christmas Edition


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!


Uh, yes. I have a serious thing for owls.
That is an owl POCKET WATCH... well, technically,
it's a necklace. But that is equally as awesome.
EEEEEEEEEEE!
OK, so: YOU GUYS! I'm so SO excited! This is the first time I've posted an 'In My Mailbox' without feeling guilty. Because Santa was VERY kind this year... well, him and my Mum, BFF, and the amazing Gabby at Harlequin TEEN Australia (who I love even more for releasing Touch Of Power early, so BFF didn't have to wait for her Christmas present).

Also, AAAAAAAHHH! Neil! Gaiman! Is! My! Hero! Two Neil Gaiman Books? I'm in Sarah heaven. I ADORED American Gods, and Anansi Boys is a sort-of sequel. SO. EXCITED. And I've been dying to read Neverwhere.

What I'm saying is:  I LOVE Christmas.

From left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Blood Bound, Rachel Vincent *
  2. In The Arms Of Stone Angels, Jordan Dane *
  3. New Girl, Paige Harbison *
  4. Saving June, Hannah Harrington *
  5. Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
  6. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
  7. The Iron Knight, Julie Kagawa
  8. Hereafter, Tara Hudson
  9. Daughter Of Smoke And Bone, Laini Taylor
  10. Inheritence, Christopher Paolini
* I want to say a huge, ENORMOROUS T H A N K Y O U to Gabby from HarlequinTEEN Australia, who very kindly sent me Blood Bound, In The Arms Of Stone Angels, New Girl AND Saving June to review. After reading (and LOVING) Jordan Dane's On A Dark Wing I'm so so SO crazy excited to read In The Arms Of Stone Angels.

What'd you bag this week? Share!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Demon Lover, Juliet Dark

Title: The Demon Lover (Fairwick Chronicles #1)
Author: Juliet Dark (author website)
Release Date: December 27th 2011 by Random House
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star

The Demon Lover is so not the book I thought it was going to be. Let's face it: the name? The cover? It even has the word 'virile' in the cover copy, for pete's sake! We all know what type of book it's going to be. Except, well, it's not. At first I felt kind of cheated... but I really enjoyed this book.

From Goodreads:
Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of writing her bestselling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. After all, Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she finds herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.

But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: He’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the incubus, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this demon lover from her heart.

The Demon Lover is an odd creature. From 'Juliet Dark', the pseudonym Carol Goodman, it starts off a lush, gothic mystery/horror, with an almost meta-fiction feel to it, which I both loved and loathed. Filled with literary references from Sookie Stackhouse to Jane Eyre, it's at turns funny and witty, and at others painfully self-aware. The Demon Lover knows what kind of book it sounds and looks like, and at times revels in it, and others seems to almost distance itself from it... Like, 'yes, I'm totally your grandma's trashy romance novel... But I'm cool! I swear!' It's almost like a kid trying to fit in at a party by making fun of himself. I really struggle to explain how I feel about it... I'm conflicted, but the more I think about it, the more I feel this slightly conflicted, dualistic start is completely the point: Callie's made a living of the study of gothic literature and paranormal romance. It stands to reason that, finding herself in a gothic romance, she's going to be super self-aware and question what's going on, or write it off as an over-read, overactive imagination.

The thing is, this 'start' to the novel? It goes in for ONE HUNDRED PAGES. That's one hundred out of three hundred and seventy. And it's sloooooow. Very slow. I struggled through, and had basically made up my mind that I didn't like this book. Then it got GOOD.

The Demon Lover comes into its own when Callie discovers that, well, she's not nuts. There really IS something rather supernatural going on in Fairwick. In fact, the whole town has been founded around the existence of the supernatural. Welcome to the Hellmouth, baby. From this point, the book takes on a rather delicious Sookie Stackhouse feel, and only gets better. Demon Lover is like a mash-up of Sookie Stackhouse, the Caster Chronicles, and a delicious touch if its own brand of quirky.

Cailleach (That's Kay-lex, or 'Callie' to you):

Callie is an interesting heroine. Intelligent and independent, she can be really fun to read... at others a tiny bit stupid, careless, and that's not to mention a total snob... not even snobby in a deliciously-fun-to-read way. Nevertheless, past page 100, I liked her, and immensely enjoyed her journey of self discovery (golly that sounds hackneyed), because that's what this is: Callie coming to terms with a very, very strange new world.

I also LOVED her love interest, but let me tell you guys: this really isn't a romance. Romance readers will be disappointed by the open-ended close to the book. The romance aspect, though? It has me clamouring for more. I really want to see how Juliet Dark resolves this, or at least where she takes it in Water Witch, slated for a 2012 release (there's a bit of info on Juliet Dark's Facebook page--there's no website or blog).

The Verdict?

What surprised me most about Demon Lover is just how much I enjoyed it. After a very slow--and slightly awkward--start, it turns into something witty, sexy, magic, sad and compelling. Sookie fans, rejoice: if you can get past the first half of this book, you're in for a real treat. What Dark has done brilliantly in The Demon Lover is set up a tantalizing start to a VERY promising series, and now that set up is done? Oh boy is this going good places.

Want It?

Get it from Book Depository
Get it from Amazon

The Demon Lover was kindly provided by Random House via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks you guys!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8): Everneath, Brodi Ashton

What is it? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Everneathby Brodi Ashton (author website)
Pub Date: March 1st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Australia

From Goodreads:
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...

Uh, OK, so, once again, GORGEOUS COVER, but seriously? Based (loosely) on the story of Persephone and Hades? Oh, yes. I'm all over that. I LOVE myth-based stories (Oh my goodness, Neil Gaiman! Neil Gaiman! American Gods! Stardust!) You have NO. IDEA. how much I love Neil Gaiman myth stories.

Win one of my favourite 2011 books!
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Monday, December 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (4): Books I Bought This Week


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!


I'm back with another mailbox... and it's worse than ever before. If this doesn't stop, Husbandman will stage an intervention... it may involve book-burning.

In my defence: I was given monies by family for Christmas... and spare monies equals BOOKS. And when Kmart and Target have the Vampire Academy books fr $11 each... it equals a shelf space problem. So, without further delay!

From left to right, then top to bottom:

  1. City Of Fallen Angels, Cassandra Clare
  2. Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare
  3. Last Sacrifice, Richelle Mead
  4. Spirit Bound, Richelle Mead
  5. Shadow Kiss, Richelle Mead
  6. Blood Promise, Richelle Mead
  7. Bloodlines, Richelle Mead 
  8. Graveminder, Melissa Marr

What'd you bag this week? Share!

On A Dark Wing, Jordan Dane

Title: On A Dark Wing
Author: Jordan Dane (author website)
Release Date: December 27th 2011 from Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Part Vertical Limit and part Meet Joe Black, comes Jordan Dane's On A Dark Wing. Beautifully written, and set against a gorgeous Alaskan backdrop (seriously, it had me at Alaska), I loved everything about this book... except (at times) the main character.

From Goodreads:
Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she’s the target of Death’s Ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death is with him because of her.

Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler survived the horrific car accident which killed her mother. And this girl has major survivor's guilt. Abbey is still haunted by memories of the ethereal boy with gorgeous blue eyes who held her hand in the wreckage. Well, as it turns out, Death hasn't forgotten her, either.

Now fifteen, Abbey has an all-consuming, passionate, earth-shattering crush on golden boy Nate Holden... who doesn't know she exists. Like, literally, wouldn't know her from a bar of soap dressed in jeans and a parka. Thing is, Nate's about to climb Alaska's monster of a mountain, Denali. And Death is watching very, very closely. Abbey and Nate's lives are inextricably drawn together when Death decides watching isn't quite enough anymore. 

On A Dark Wing is told in shifting POV, from Abbey's first person, to Nate, Tanner (Abbey's BFF) and a few other characters' third person. This raise warning flags for you? Put them down. Because it really works. You get to see all the action, from every angle, and oh my goodness, it's amazing. It allows Dane to tell a wholly unique and utterly riveting story, and here's the thing: she can write. In Dane's hands, this is magic. I loved the characters in this book.

There were moments in the book that were so very, very beautiful I caught my breath. Others were edge-of-my-seat gripping and frightening. In others my stomach had butterflies. I fell breathtakingly in love with Dane's writing.

Abbey, Abbey, Abbey...

Abbey is bitter, cold and isolated--a lot like the place she calls home. After her mother's death, Abbey is left with a major case of survivor's guilt, and given she was ten at the time, it's really shaped her perception on life. Her mother was the butter to her tiny family's bread, and with her gone, she and her dad don't know how to connect.

Abbey has this 'me and my BFF against everyone else in the world' thing going on. She is quite obviously miserable, but rejects every offer of help and support. She acts like she hates her father, because he doesn't 'get' her, and flies into fits of temper or sulks for reasons I never understood. Here's the thing: I never 'got' her, either. In a book, I need motivations for actions, words, feelings... and something about Abbey's felt off. Aside from vague suggestions she might be suffering clinical depression, I could never quite follow why she behaved and felt the way she did.

But watching Abbey find a way to connect with her Dad over the course of the story, and coming to terms with her grief after five long years, well, that was magic. And ultimately? I liked her.

Nate Does Denali:

Fact about me: I love the mountains. I love snow. I love the biting cold of the alpine air, the dead still, and the roaring winds. In Australia, that's one thing, but Alaska is almost a holy place to a skier. No, there's no skiing here, but there are mountains and mountaineering, and here's where my Vertical Limit comparison comes into play.

We get to visit Nate's head as he prepares for, and begins his ascent of Denali (Mt McKinley outside of Alaska). Dane weaves in little facts about the mountain, about mountaineering, about the planning and preparation that's gone into this climb, and I was hooked. I even managed to get my husband to read this bit of the book, and that's a massive achievement.

Nate's point of view gives us a chance to meet him, beyond Abbey's slightly obsessive-creepy crush on him. We get to connect, and care for him as he fights for survival. And Nate is a really cool guy: He loves his family, loves his best mate, and lives the mountains... which basically meant I loved him.

Death:

Death... well Death was... unique. I felt for him--ached for him. You could feel his longing to belong, love, be loved. And I loved how Dane imagined his role in the scheme of things... his guardianship of the souls he carries.

Looking For Alaska:

As I've mentioned, the real winner for me in On A Dark Wing was the backdrop. Dane painted a picture of Alaska so real, so beautiful, and so vivid, I was lost in it. I felt the slushy snow under my boots, I was there with Abbey watching the rippling light of the aurora borealis, and I smelled the crisp mountain air. Everything about this Alaska was vivid, beautifully described, and so, so real.

The Verdict:

Part Vertical Limit and part Meet Joe Black, I loved this book. I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it, even if I can't reconcile my Abbey-issues with how very much I liked it. On A Dark Wing is beautifully written. It's intriguing. It's set against the most incredibly gorgeous backdrop imaginable (Alaska! Nothern Lights! Snow! Mountains!). At times it was exhilarating and exciting, at others quiet, sweet and sad. On a number of levels it just... worked for me. I want more. Now!

On A Dark Wing was kindly provided by Harlequin TEEN via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks you guys!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Digging Up a Favourite: This Side Of The Grave (Night Huntress #5), Jeaniene Frost


Title: This Side Of The Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost (author website)
Release Date: February 22nd 2011
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
My Rating: 1 star2 star3 star4 star

The Night Huntress books, by fabulous evil-author, Jeaniene Frost, are, hands down, one of most favourite UF/PNR series. Every Saturday for the last few weeks, I've been posting a review of the books in the main 'Night Huntress' series, and I'm ending it here, with book 5, This Side Of The Grave.Thanks for reading, guys! I hope you'll read--or have read--these books, and love them as much as I do!

From Goodreads:
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance...

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

This Side of the Grave is an interesting outing in the Night Huntress series, and I'm not entirely clear of my thoughts on it. Yes, I enjoyed it. No, it's not been my favourite so far, but don't get me wrong, my confusion with this book is not necessarily a bad thing.

The ghoul, Appollyon, is stirring up trouble, trying to incite a race war between vampires and ghouls. And who's been drawn right into the middle? None other than Cat Crawfield, of course. The ghoul claims Cat is intending to become an unstoppable Vampire/Ghoul hybrid, loyal to the vampires, and will be the cause of the enslavement of the ghoul race.

Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from the Ghoul Queen of New Orleans, but whose side is she really on, and what is she after? In This Side Of The Grave we get to see Cat and Bones settle into a real, stable, and emotionally mature relationship (which I LOVED). The couple still sizzle, but the tension is forced to come from the plot, more than the two of them, now.

This is also one of the funniest outings in series yet, with laugh-out-loud dialogue, (again) courtesy largely of Vlad. There's one line which has to be shared from Bones. An unexpected side character reappears, and asks if he may ask Bones a question. Bones' response: "Ask me if I sparkle, and I kill you where you stand."

***BEWARE: From here on, there be SPOILERS.***
In previous installments, we always new we were going to get a HEA, regardless of what argument our heroes were having... now there seems to be an ominous undertone lurking in the story, and it scares me. I could be reading something into this, but there seemed to be a number of roadsigns that something very big and very bad is on the horizon.

While we leave Cat and Bones in a happy place, we're left with a question of Majestic's true intentions... what is she manouevering towards? There were a number of conversations between Cat and Bones, and also Marie, that are bothering me. Cat and Bones discuss their true love for each other, with Cat saying that while she promised to go on without him if anything happened to Bones, she wouldn't want to. And Bones promising they'd always find a way to be together, be it 'this side of the grave, or the next'. It gives me the willies. Is this really just the proclamation of holding nothing back love we've been waiting for, or is it foreshadowing something dark in the future for our favourite couple. We also see an advance chapter for book 6, and a secret angent overseeing Tate at Cat's old work has me worried.

I also read an ask the author recently, where Frost refused to answer a question of whether vampires could leave ghosts. She's promised a Cat and Bones HEA... but a HEA 'of sorts'. I'm in love with this couple, and I want Cat and Bones together for ever, with matching love heart tattoes, and sugary loves scenes and warm gooey centres. This book has me worried.

While the romantic side of me is worried, the objective reader has to appreciate the external tension which Frost has carefully woven into the series in this installment.
*** END POTENTIAL SPOILERS ***

Here's hoping for much more happy, balanced Cat and Bones, and a nice big HEA in 4 books' time!

Books in This Series:

  1. Halfway To The Grave
  2. One Foot In The Grave
  3. At Grave's End
  4. Destined For An Early Grave
  5. This Side Of The Grave
  6. First Drop Of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1)
  7. Eternal Kiss Of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2)
  8. One Grave At A Time (September 2011)
  9. As yet untitled book 7, expected 2012.
Want it?
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow My Blog Friday (7)

'Follow My Blog' Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The idea is to meet other book bloggers, and get to know one another. What a fun idea, and opportunity! 

Featured blogs: Books Are Vital & Once Upon A Time

Q: When you've read a book, what do you do with it? Keep it, give it away, swap it, donate it, sell it?

You guys, I'm with Rachel on this one. A book hoarder is EXACTLY what I am. I have an image in my head of me sitting on a pile of books saying 'Preciouses! Preciouses', like Gollum >.<

I love books in all their colours, shapes and sizes, and I have books at home I have no intention of reading but they're just SO PRETTY. I even keep books I HATE, because books are like, you know, sacred objects.

On that note, would anyone in Australia like a copy of Evernight by Claudia Gray? Use the form on my Contact page to shoot me an email if you do, or leave a comment? I'll post it to you free. It's the first book I've ever WANTED to get rid of.

I'm a big lender if books, though. So I collect them, but they're never dusty :D What about you?

Win one of my favourite 2011 books!
GIVEAWAY!! While you're here, don't forget to enter my Christmas Giveaway to win 1 of my fave '11 books, or $15 Gift voucher! Open INTERNATIONALLY!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (7): Night School, Christi Daugherty

What is it? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Night School
by Christi Daugherty (author website)
Pre-Order:  Book Depository  |  Amazon (UK)
Pub Date:  January 5th 2012 from Little, Brown/Atom

From Goodreads:
Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested. Again.

This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.

But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.

When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.

OK. So, Scout's Honour that the GORGEOUS COVER isn't the only reason I want to read Night School. Promise. But I mean, come on! Her hair! 'Envy' doesn't quite cover it. But, really, it is the reason Night School got my attention, and it is the reason it stands out (for me) amongst the other paranormal-boarding-school type books around. So, yep, I'm shallow. So what? It'll look pretty on my shelves :D

But mysterious night school? Sinister boarding school rules, mystery and danger? Oh yeah, I'm all over that, thank you very much! Roll on, January!

What are YOU waiting on, my lovely peoples?

Win one of my favourite 2011 books!
While you're here, don't forget to enter my Christmas Giveaway to win 1 of my fave '11 books, or $15 Gift voucher! Open INTERNATIONALLY!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Touch Of Power, Maria V. Snyder

Title: Touch Of Power
Author: Maria V. Snyder (author website)
Release Date: 20th Dec. 2011
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

Uhhhh, WOW! Move over Across the Universe and Shatter Me, I have a new favourite book of 2011 (don’t worry, I still love you. It’s a shared first place). Magical, gripping, and compulsively readable, Maria V. Snyder’s Touch Of Power offers a brave heroine, multi-faceted characters, fantasy, and seriously, what more could you ask for?

From Goodreads:
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life... 

Three years ago, plague tore through the Fifteen Kingdoms, decimating the population, destroying governments and kingdoms, and shaking the world to its very foundations. Avry of Kazan is a Healer. Laying her hands on the sick and injured, she heals by absorbing the ailment of a patient into her own body, where she recovers at a ten times the speed of a normal person. But rather than being grateful for her gift, people want her dead. Her kind are captured and executed... because they’ve been blamed for spreading the plague.

Finally caught after three years on the run, Avry is almost relieved to be captured. But as she awaits execution in her prison cell, she’s sprung by a small band of rogues. They offer her freedom in exchange for a simple task... heal a dying prince. Avry has her own reasons for refusing... the least of which being she’ll die in the attempt...

YOU GUYS. JUST... OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Words fail me.

It’s no secret I’m a BIG Maria V. Snyder fan. Up until this point, I’d still though Poison Study was her finest work to date, but Touch of Power offers it a serious run for its money. So many things are SO good about this book.

The Leading Lady:

In Avry, Snyder’s given birth to yet another inspirational heroine. A victim and a survivor (Maria V. Snyder has a major recurring theme going on in her work with this kind of girl), Avry has special powers, true, but her real power is her grit, resolve, and inner core of strength. Avry is never a damsel in distress. She’s intelligent, deliciously sarcastic, and self-reliant. Avry makes mistakes, and yes, gets rescued a couple of times, but boy can she take care of herself. This is the kind of heroine I read for.

The Gang:

Maria V. Snyder has a real flair for creating fabulous ‘side’ characters. Touch Of Power is no exception, with characters like Belan, Flea, Quain and Vinn that bring it to life. They dance across the pages and wriggled their way under my skin. I wound up caring for this bunch every inch as much as the leads. I loved the banter between Avry and the group she’s assimilated into.

The Big Bad:

Touch Of Power boasts a deliciously deranged baddie, as well as an array of foes and foils of varying degrees of threat, moral ambiguity and danger. Snyder has an incredible knack for writing utterly despicable female characters. You’ll find out what I’m talking about (mwahahaha!).

But let's talk about the big bad, shall we? Turns out the most powerful magician in a world full of magic also happens to be pathologically insane, and a king. Much like Warner in this year's AMAZING Shatter Me, King Tohon is seven different shades of batsh*t crazy. He seems to want what's best for the people of the world as whole, but doesn't give a damn about anyone other than himself on an individual level. Or perhaps he's just using the promise of a better world to further his own agenda. He's brilliant, manipulative, self-serving and narcissistic, but is capable of real charm... Uh, wait, writing this down, dude sounds like a textbook psychopath, huh? He's awful... and so, so fun to hate.

The Kerrick:

And Kerrick, my word! (Kerrick! Kerrick! Kerrick! Kerrick! Kerrick! <3) I wanted to slap him silly. Prickly, stubborn, bossy and... wait, he’s not sounding very loveable, is he? Just wait. You’ll see. Despite his (many) failings, I grew to love this character.

And instalove? You guys hate the instant fall into love thing, right? Well this its antithesis. The romantic subplot that builds (slowly) throughout this book is a long journey, and a joy to witness. Snyder has this nailed.

The Verdict:

Once again, Maria V. Snyder has created an exquisitely realised world, brimming with excitement, magic and intrigue. The sharp, funny, sarcastic banter between the party of heroes is a delight, and from page the first, Touch Of Power is filled with fights, flight and action. I’ve said this before, but fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire will lap up Snyder’s Study series, and Touch Of Power even more so. Fast-paced, alluring fantasy that's almost appallingly entertaining, Touch Of Power is one of those books that will worm its way into your brain and leave you wandering around the gorgeous verdant forest with its heroes long after the final page is turned.

Want It?

Get it from Book Depository
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Digging Up a Favourite: Eternal Kiss Of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2), Jeaniene Frost

Title: Eternal Kiss Of Darkness
Author: Jeaniene Frost (author website)
Release Date: July 9th 2010 by Avon
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
My Rating: 1 star2 star3 star4 star

The Night Huntress books, by fabulous evil-author, Jeaniene Frost, are one of my most favouritist UF/PNR series. So, because I can, every Saturday for the next few weeks, I'm going to dig up reviews of Night Huntress books. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books. Love them? Hate them? Can't wait for a double dose of Vlad with the Night Prince books next year?

From Goodreads:
Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears, this fearless, beautiful . . . human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

Review:

Eternal Kiss Of Darkness, or: The Book In which Jeaniene Frost channels Queen of the Damned Era Anne Rice and Breaking Dawn.

This is the second 'Night Huntress World' Novel. Meaning, it's part of the Cat and Bones world, but not a Cat and Bones story. In Eternal Kiss of Darkness we follow Kira--a tough and caring PI with a dark history--as well as an old favourite: dark and mysterious Mencheres. The story is told from each of the two's POV, swapping between the two.

After reading the Night Huntress novels, it is really interesting learning about Mencheres past and history. In the Cat/Bones books, we only see him through Cat's filter, and we know (fairly enough), that this is strongly coloured by her opinions on him. here we see beyond his manoeuvring and quiet composure, to previously unseen raw and vulnerable side.

After 4500 years, recent events are catching up with him. His (seriously evil) wife is finally dead, his line's future is safe under the care of Bones, and he's world weary. Rather than the unflappable demeanour we encounter through his dealings with Cat, we discover a sense of humour and a long and painful history. We also discover details of his relationships with other favourites, such as Vlad and Bones, and the deep bond of affection and love he feels for the latter, despite the hurt the two are holding against each other after recent events.

Kira's an interesting addition to the cast. It would have been easy for Frost to write a Cat 2.0, but the two are different, and I found in Kira a damaged, but likable, character. The attraction Kira and Mencheres have to each other is palpable, and we have a generous helping of the steamy, R-Rated scenes we've come to expect from Jeaniene Frost's novels.

What I found interesting about the book was the history. Cat and Bones aren't old. If the Night Huntress books were told from Bone's POV, we might learn more due to his close bond with Mencheres. But, as it stands, we don't know too much about the vampire race's history, government, legends, etc. The ancient Egyptian mythology, and thousands of years of history and vampire involvement scream 'Queen of the Damned' to me. Mencheres and his family remind me so much of Akasha and Enkil, and the feud between he and his uncle brought up memories of the cast of ancients from the Vampire Chronicles. The corrupt members of their governing group reminds me of the Volturi, and even the 'good guys' involved are terrifying.

Eternal Kiss Of Darkness is a good story, with everything you expect: intrigue, romance, betrayal, etc. There's a lot less action than you'd expect in a Cat and Bones novel, but I enjoyed this. It's a more character driven story, focusing on the relationship between Kira and Mencheres. An interesting and very-readable addition to the Night Huntress group of books, and I don't think fans will be disappointed.

My only really beef is this: Eternal Kiss Of Darkness is set in-between books 4 and 5 of the Night Huntress series, and while the series still makes sense, you may feel like you're missing a few details if you don't read this in order. I'm all for side novels, and I loved it, but still...

Books in This Series:

  1. Halfway To The Grave
  2. One Foot In The Grave
  3. At Grave's End
  4. Destined For An Early Grave
  5. First Drop Of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1)
  6. Eternal Kiss Of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2)
  7. This Side Of The Grave
  8. One Grave At A Time (September 2011)
  9. As yet untitled book 7, expected 2012.

Want It?

Get it from Book Depository
Get it from Amazon

Friday, December 9, 2011

Follow My Blog Friday (6)

'Follow My Blog' Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The idea is to meet other book bloggers, and get to know one another. What a fun idea, and opportunity! 

Featured blogs: Anonymous Reads & Keeping Up with Roxy's Books

Q: Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?

Ugh, seriously? This list could be ENDLESS.

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

But, umm... you know it's Christmas, right? Have ya'll read A Christmas Carol, by the one and only Charles Dickens? A couple of years ago I started a tradition for myself: I re-read it every year... and it's more and more magic each time. You can download it as a feebie eBook from Amazon. Go! Go read!

I swear everyone should read this. Dickens wit and humour shines through on every page, and every sentence. He brings Victorian London to life with vivid prose, sparkling metaphors and a magic that is his alone.

The Night Huntress Series, Jeaniene Frost

I tell EVERYONE to read Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress books. If you're into Paranormal, and like vampires, kick-ass heroines, and unbelievable hot male heroes, I don't know why you haven't read this yet! Think Buffy, if Spike and Angel combined were hotter than the fire of a thousand suns XD

Poison Study, Maria V. Snyder

And Maria V. Snyder is one of my favourite authors, and I believe one of the most underrated around today. Poison Study is absolute magic, and if you guys like Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore, you have to read this right now.

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

Also, I don't know how I forgot this, but: Harry Potter. Thanks to Anonymous Reads for being far cleverer than me! You guys, you know the hysteria that surrouns these books? The dressed up kids at cinemas, and at bookstores when they were released? There was a reason. Harry Potter is pure magic, distilled into literary form. J.K. Rowling is a genius. Don't put off reading them one minute more!

Win one of my favourite 2011 books!
GIVEAWAY!! While you're here, don't forget to enter my Christmas Giveaway to win 1 of my fave '11 books, or $15 Gift voucher! Open INTERNATIONALLY!

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