August 29, 2012

Book #92 - Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1)

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1), Kresley Cole
ARC - Publish date:  October 2, 2012
384 pages
post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Started 8/14/12
Finished 8/19/12

I obtained an ARC of Poison Princess, the first in a new series by Immortals After Dark author, Kresley Cole, at a book signing, which was indeed providence, as I had really been looking forward to reading it anyway. My overall impression is that it is a really great, unique read, albeit a bit confusing and slightly disjointed at times. Evie's story is told in flashback form as she recounts the circumstances of her life over the past eight months to a serial killer who is looking to make her his next victim.

Our heroine, Evie Greene is getting ready to start her junior year of high school after spending the summer away at a mental institution. She has visions and sometimes hears voices - never good when you're a rich almost-16-year-old heir to a sugar cane plantation. On her first day back, she meets rogue Jackson Deveaux, a Cajun boy from the wrong side of the swamp. It's a love-hate relationship right from the start.

But then the world nearly ends in a fiery apocalypse, and surviving is now priority numero uno. Evie and Jack find each other and set off on a mission together, growing closer even while Evie tries to keep the vision-seeing and voice-hearing a secret.

The mythology of this story is steeped in astrology and Tarot Cards. Perhaps I wouldn't have been as confused as I was at times if I understood anything about those two things. As I do not, I need to rely on the story and the author's ability to explain things in the proper context. I felt that could've been done a bit better. Although Cole did explain some about Tarot, I felt it came a little too late in the story to be as helpful as I needed it to be.

However, I did think the world building and character development was done very well.
The story mainly takes place in Louisiana. I really liked how Cole made the Bayou come to life for someone like me who has never been there. 

 Evie had lots of depth and emotion. She is this rich chick who is dealing with the belief that she's nuts, and she's trying to hide it from everyone. One would think she would be delicate and high-maintenance, but when the crap hits the fan and the world falls apart, Evie shows incredible strength and courage. 

Jack, I liked too, although a little less than Evie. He's very crass and rude, almost to a fault. I get that he's supposed to be rough and unapproachable and that it's supposed to be Evie that softens him. Sometimes I felt that he was almost too mean and irate, so that he was almost a caricature of "the bad boy." There were, however, moments when Jack balanced out, and I really felt like he cared about Evie. Those moments were too few and far between though. I desperately wanted Evie and Jack to figure things out so they could be together. I really loved those two when they were good to each other.

All-in-all, this was a solid four-star book. I will warn you - as good as it is, the ending is abrupt and cliffhangerish. It made me crazy! It's a good long wait until the next book is out. And, as my friends know, I have no patience.

August 27, 2012

Book #91 - Destined (Wings #4)

Destined (Wings #4), Aprilynne Pike
307 pages
paranormal romance
Started 8/13/12
Finished 8/14/12

This series has come so far for me. I remember completing Wings (Wings #1) and feeling very "meh" about it. The only character at that point that evoked any real emotion from me was Tamani. I felt that Laurel and David were very childish, and I wasn't engaged. I very nearly didn't continue with the series. But, Tamani drew me forward, and I am SO glad I went on. Because Destined was such a wonderful ending to the series.

Avalon and its inhabitants are literally fighting for their lives. And, in the front lines are Laurel, David, Chelsea, and Tamani. Laurel has to reach deep down to harness her powers and all she has learned to help those that she loves. And Tamani and David need to learn to allow her to do so, despite their first instincts, which are to lock her away to protect her. As the war escalates and the final battles are fought, lives end up literally in the balance.

One of my favorite parts of this book is that Laurel finally, FINALLY, makes a choice!! For the past three books, she's been back and forth between David and Tamani, and it's been one of my biggest irritations with the series. Thank the Lord, she comes to her senses and makes a real and final choice. I loved that.

This book was action-packed. It started nearly from the very beginning and didn't end until the very end. It's one battle after the other, and Aprilynne Pike did a fantastic job describing it all to me. I could hear the screams and smell the smoke and taste the panic in the air. I loved those moments that Laurel was able to steal with Tamani and David away from the battles that are raging around them. It softened her and made her much more likable.

As flat as Laurel and David seemed in the first book, they both were that much more vibrant in the fourth. Pike did a great job maturing them and making them more real. And, Tamani - well, he was perfect the whole way through. I love that faerie.

Overall, I would say, this series is the perfect example of why you shouldn't give up after only one book in a series. You never know what the next one will be like. And, you may end up loving it in the end.   

August 26, 2012

2012 PAYA Festival - Bringing YA to PA!

Me, Jen and Jennifer L. Armentrout (and Pepe!)

On Saturday, my good friend Jen from At Random and I went to the 2012 PAYA Festival sponsored by the organization Bring YA to PA. Nearly thirty authors were in attendance to chat with fans and sign books. As was the case with YA Fest that Jen and I attended earlier in the month, there were also raffles and food sales. Bring YA to PA is an organization that is devoted to encouraging teens to read and love books; that's certainly something I can get behind! So, I happily bought some books and some raffle tickets and settled in to enjoy the day.
Jeri Smith-Ready signing my Shade series books

I went with five books and came home with 15 - not a bad haul for one day! I bought a few additional books to have signed, and I also donated a few dollars in exchange for a grab bag of ARCs - I know, right?? Jen and I had a little squeal between us when we saw those. And, of course, there was swag. :)

Some of my favorite authors were there, which was just icing on the cake. We got to see Jennifer L. Armentrout again, which was great since Onyx (Lux #2) was just release two weeks ago! A few other favorites that I got to see included Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil), Maria V. Snyder (Poison Study), Jeri-Smith Ready (Shade) and Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked).

Authors that appeared were: Susan Shaw, Victoria Schwab, K.M. Walton, Margie Gelbwasser, Charlotte Bennardo, Jackie Kessler, Amalie Howard, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Jennifer Hubbard, Jennifer Murgia, J.R. Wagner, Shannon Delany, Beth Kephart, Brigid Kemmerer, Jaclyn Dolamore, A.S. King, Jessica Spotswood, Jeri Smith-Ready, Maria V. Snyder, Cyn Balog, Josh Berk, Cesya MaRae Cuono, Gwendolyn Heasley, Dianne Salerni, Rebecca Serle, Jennifer Armentrout, Christine Norris, Alissa Grosso, Wendy Higgins, Amy Holder, Elisa Ludwig, and Tiffany Schmidt. It was so exciting!

But, what was more exciting were these pretty additions to my bookshelf at home!

Books I had signed

My grab bag ARCs

Look at all the swag!

August 24, 2012

PAYA Festival

I'm so excited to attend my second book signing with multiple authors tomorrow! The 2012 PAYA Festival benefits Pennsylvania libraries and librarians, and once a year, the organizers get together a host of accomplished and exciting authors for a festival and book signing. I'm especially anxious for this year's festival because some amazing new authors like Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil) and Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked) will be there, alongside other favorites of mine like Jennifer Armentrout, Maria V. Snyder and Jeri Smith-Ready. I already own about half of these books, and hope to purchase the other half there so that I can get them all signed!

Can I get a fangirl squeal?! I promise pics and a full write-up after I return, as I know you all will be waiting with bated breath to hear how it went.

And, on a side note, have you all checked out BAM! yet? Since Borders closed, I've only stepped foot in a BAM! one time. To be honest, most of the books I read, I get from one of my local libraries, so I don't do a ton of book purchasing. Well, I meant to purchase the books I wanted for the PAYA Festival from Amazon, but I kind of flaked on that plan. So, today, I strolled into my local BAM! on my lunch break. I found the teen fiction section, and just about had a heart attack right there. Not only is it pretty large for a bookstore, but it has this fantastic middle section with books discounted to $3.97, $4.97 or $5.97 in most cases.

 I had some series internal conflicts staying the course when I saw the discounted section. In the end, I was very proud of myself and, in addition to my PAYA books, I walked away with only ONE extra book - The Morganville Vampires, Volume Two. I got the first two from the library, and enjoyed them, but haven't gotten back to the series yet. Since it was only $3.97, it was a good incentive for me to add it to my bookshelf. (By the way, BAM! didn't pay me to talk about them - they don't even care who I am.)

August 23, 2012

Book #90 - Onyx (Lux #2)

Onyx (Lux #2), Jennifer Armentrout
376 pages
paranormal romance
Started 8/12/12
Finished 8/12/12

When I attended YA Fest earlier in the month and had the opportunity to meet Jennifer Armentrout, one of the coolest things she told me was that Onyx was being released before its official scheduled August 14 release date. What? I came home and pre-ordered it the very next day. And, sure enough, it arrived on my doorstep on August 9! But, first, I wanted to do a re-read of Obsidian (Lux #1) just so I was fresh on all the details.

Onyx picks up where Obsidian left off. Daemon and Katy are still at each others' throats, although Daemon is determined to convince Katy that she really is in love with him. All that while a new guy pulls into town. Meanwhile, there appears to be a threat bigger than they ever imagined. Especially when Katy sees someone that is supposed to be dead. In addition, Katy starts sparking some freaky powers of her own.  

Onyx was every bit as captivating as Obsidian was. Sometimes, I've found that sophomore efforts in a series are so blah. I mean, we know all the characters and most of their backstory. World building was done in book #1, so not a lot of that is necessary. At the end of Obsidian, it appeared that the greatest threat had been extinguished, so what conflict could there be? Armentrout did a fantastic job of creating new conflict and intrigue. She created a new and greater foe that threatens not only the Luxens, but the humans they become involved with. It's the perfect continuation.

Armentrout, thankfully, didn't have Katy and Daemon lulled into a holding pattern. The introduction of new characters kept their relationship exciting. Katy's new powers were also a new addition to the relationship that made it more complicated and more interesting.

I'm just so pleased with this book. After such an amazing first book, it could've fallen off the mark. But, it didn't. Armentrout found new ways to keep the story fresh and exciting. She kept me interested in the lives of our characters. And, most importantly, she has made me want more. Opal (Lux #3) comes out in December - the wait will be torture.

August 21, 2012

Book #89 - Die For Me (Revenants #1)

Die For Me (Revenants #1), Amy Plum
341 pages
paranormal romance
Started 8/7/12
Finished 8/9/12

How do authors come up with this stuff? (And, I mean that in a good way.) I mean, ok - we've all seen werewolves, vampires, faeries and witches. I even like these stories - a lot. I enjoy seeing how authors differ in their takes on the different abilities and situations they find themselves in. But, at the end of the day they're still stories about things we've all seen before. Every now and again, though, an author writes something different. I don't know how these ideas come to them - dreams? A blinding flash? Die For Me is one of those stories.

Kate is sitting at a cafe in Paris minding her own business, trying to bury her sorrow over losing her parents and having to move across the ocean to live with her grandparents, when she sees him. Vincent. And, everything changes. When she finds out what he and his friends are, she has to question everything - whether he's worth it and whether she can live without him.

I absolutely loved this book! First of all, I love that it's set in Paris. I've never been to France, but Plum so keenly describes the sights and scenes that it feels like I have. It was a refreshing change from what I'm used to.

Kate was really nicely developed. She was wary and fearful when she was supposed to be. And when she needed to be brave, she stepped up. There's nothing I hate more than female characters who are either wishy washy the whole way through or those who, unbelievable, seem to have little trouble digesting what should be impossible. I liked that Katy was neither of these. And then there's Vincent. *sigh*

Most of all, I love the concept of the Revenants. They're sort of like zombies, but not really. Sort of like ghosts, but not quite. They are totally unique and completely interesting. Plum could take this story in so many directions I can't wait to see where it goes next.

August 20, 2012

Book #88 - Betrayed (House of Night #2)

Betrayed (House of Night #2), P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
310 pages
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Started 8/1/12
Finished 8/7/12

Where do I begin with this mess? I wasn't altogether thrilled with the first book in the House of Night series,but I don't really believe in giving up on a whole series after only the first book. HOWEVER, after the second book, abandonment of a series is fair game, and I'm exercising my right to do so.

So, there's trouble at the House of Night when teens in the area start turning up dead and all the evidence points to vampires as the culprits. Zoey smells a rat and tries to flush it out. Which proves to be exhausting work - so much so that she needs to seek comfort and reassurance from not one, not two, but THREE different guys.

I've said it before - it's hard for me to like a book when I can't stand the main character. And, I REALLY can't stand Zoey. She is so full of herself that she can't see what's right and what's wrong. What's right: Aphrodite, friends who would do anything for you, a special gift given only to you. What's wrong: stringing three freaking guys along and messing with each of them behind the other ones' backs. And, one of them is a TEACHER! Ugh. I just can't read anything more about this chick.

And, it's a sad thing, really, because certain aspects of the plot were actually interesting. The House of Night is a pretty neat world. Zoey's and her friends' powers are really cool. And, I'd really like to know how the bad thing that happened in this book is resolved. But not even those curiosities can draw me back into a series where the main character is a narcissistic ho-bag. Sorry Cast girls - I'm moving on.

August 19, 2012

Book #87 - Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)

Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10), J. R. Ward
572 pages
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Started 8/4/12
Finished 8/6/12

I'm back from the beach and ready to start catching up on my reviews. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I finished four books during the week I was away, so I have a lot of posts to work on!

This is the last Black Dagger Brotherhood book that is out currently, and it was one that most BDB fans were very nervous about. I have to warn you - it would be impossible to write a review of this book without mentioning some spoilers from earlier books, so read on at your own risk.

Tohrment has been Wrath's right-hand-vampire and the BDB's voice of reason for hundreds of years. All that changed when his shellan was killed by the lessers. Tohrment disappeared for more than a year leaving his Brothers and his adopted son, John Matthew, to wonder whether he was even alive or dead. Very suddenly, Tohr returned to the Brotherhood along with his guardian angel of sorts, Lassiter, although Tohrment was a veritable shell of the vampire he was when he left. He doesn't eat, sleeps little, and wishes for death so he can join his shellan and their unborn baby.

This all changes when Lassiter tells Tohr that his Wellsie is stuck in the "in-between" and can't get to the Fade (or, Heaven) until Tohr moves on. He makes a gallant effort - he joins the fighting rotation, starts feeding properly, even reconnects with John Matthew and the rest of his Brothers. And, then, along comes No'One, a female from his past. She touches him like none has since Wellsie, and he is loathe to accept that. Yet, perhaps that is just what he needs to do in order for her to move on.

Ward has made it clear that vampires mate for life. So, how could she get around this situation? I will say that, on this particular point, Ward did a good job. It could've gone horribly wrong, leaving fans feeling jilted and icky. It could've turned many away from the rest of the series. I don't think it did. Although I still wish Wellsie didn't have to die, I'm satisfied that her memory has been preserved, as has been her place in Tohr's life.

What I wasn't all that thrilled with was No'One. Gah, was she annoying! She was self-deprecating to the point of nausea. I wanted her to grow a backbone in the worst way. Let's face it - Tohr treated her like crap there for awhile, and she was just happy to be there. It wanted me to throw the book.

I'm also not quite sure what I feel about Xcor and his Band of Bastards yet. Sometimes I feel like they add something to the BDB world. Other times, I feel like they're a distraction. Like, perhaps Ward introduced them as a way to continue the book series after she runs out of Brothers. I don't feel as attached to any of them as I do the Brothers. We'll have to see how their characters are developed later down the road.

I wish there had been more from Qhuinn and Blay, but really, what more is there to say about them leading up to their own book? That is the next one out, by the way. Lover At Last comes out in late March 2013, and we will finally see these two get together after so very, very long. After their book, who is next? I don't want to see the BDB world ever end - I love these stories too much!

August 15, 2012

Book #86 - Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #9)

Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #9), J. R. Ward
489 pages
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Started 8/1/12
Finished 8/3/12

* I apologize for the lateness of this post - I'm on vacation, and contrary to what the brochure said, the "in-room wifi" is crap. :)

This is the first book of the Black Dagger Brotherhood to NOT follow a Brother (I count John Matthew as a Brother - wouldn't you?). In fact, it doesn't even follow a male. This book is about Payne, Vishous' twin sister, whom we only learned about two books ago. I approached this book with a bit of trepidation. Being that it wasn't about a Brother, who knew what it would be like.

Payne has been putting the smack down on Wrath daily since he went totally blind. It's all good, though - it's a form of therapy for both of them. But, a "therapy session" goes wrong when Payne gets a little out of control and gets hurt beyond what vampires can automatically heal on their own. Against his better nature, Vishous runs to get Jane's former colleague, Manny Manello, to try and fix his sister. Manny and Payne immediately connect, but being that he's human and she's not, it makes a relationship between them a bit difficult. In addition, Manny's presence seems to open up some rifts in Jane's and V's relationship, and for the first time, there is trouble in paradise between a Brother and his mate.

Ok - first the stuff I liked. I really liked seeing more from V and Jane. I like that Ward is going back and showing us more from the Brothers who have already had their own book. V had so much baggage - of course it isn't realistic that everything was tied up in a nice neat package as soon as the right woman comes along. Sure, Jane helped that process a lot, but nothing can be solved that quickly. I love that not all the Brother's relationships is perfect. It's just not realistic.

I like that we also got to see more from Butch. I love that guy. And, I love his very strange and complex bromance with V. It transcends friendship. This book proves that. I also like that Ward hasn't let up on the Blay and Qhuinn storyline either. My heart is breaking for both of them. I think that was Ward's plan.
Now, the stuff I didn't like as much. Payne. *sigh* I know she's the main character of the story, but to be honest, she kinda bugged the crap out of me. I don't buy that Manello just happened to be her match. And he just happened to be the doctor that worked with Jane. Who married Payne's twin brother. Riiiiight. And, then there's the revelation at the end of the book. Another very convenient event.

I'm frankly getting a little tired of the Scribe Virgin and her arbitrary rules. Sometimes she can perform miracles. Other times she can't. Sometimes she can heal people easily. Other times she can't. In the beginning of the books, she was scary - you couldn't even ask her a question without risking her wrath. Now, you have people cursing her out all over the place, and she just ho-hums around. It kinda sucks.

Overall, this was my least favorite book of the series. There were more inconsistencies. More happenstance events. More things that were hard for me to get past. But, you know - it was a Brotherhood book, so... yeah. Four stars it is.  

August 9, 2012

July Book Report

July was a really good month for me. I finally finished all ten Black Dagger Brotherhood books (LOVE those Brothers!). I read about faeries, werewolves, vampires, gypsies, trolls, and gods. I like to keep my horizons nice and broad.

Books Read - 15
Books Read To Date - 85
Total Pages Read - 32,658
Favorite Book of the Month - The Immortal Rules

My favorite book this month was The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. Kagawa has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read her Iron Fey series much earlier this year. I was excited to read her new book, even though it was quite a departure from what I was used to seeing from her. And, oh, this was such a good book! If you haven't read it yet, I suggest giving it a try. It has it all - action, heartbreak, love. I loved it!

August 8, 2012

My first book signing - YA Fest 2012

For as much as I enjoy books and reading, it's hard to believe that I've never attended a book signing before in my life. It's a wrong that has now been righted, as I attended YA Fest in Easton, PA with my good friend Jen from At Random.

All 35 authors
YA Fest featured 35 YA authors, all available to sign their books. As I had never done this before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would they be nice? Would they want to chat a bit with me or just try and move me along? Would they be pushy and try and get me to buy their books? I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. All the authors were extremely nice! Many were very willing to talk with me a bit about their books. And none of them acted like used car salespersons.

In addition to the signings, several authors participated in panel discussions. We got to hear about what inspires them, how to write about dangerous characters and situations, how to co-author, and how to get published. I really learned a lot from them. And, there were other fun things for Jen and I to participate in. There were raffles for books (I won two and Jen won three!), a used book sale ($0.25 for paperbacks and $0.50 for hardbacks - WHAT??!) and a bake sale (sugar!). The proceeds from all went to support the library, which is a cause I can definitely get behind.

(from left) Anne Greenwood Brown, Charles Benoit, Barbara Dee, Michelle Zink and Jonathan Mayberry
On to the books. I left my house with four books and came home with 15! First, are the books I got signed by various authors:

Here are the books I won! Three are ARCs, one of which is signed:

And, finally, the books that I bought at the used book sale for a grand total of $1.25:

Of course, you can't forget the swag. And, BOY. Was there swag! In addition to what's pictured here, I also snagged a t-shirt from Anne Greenwood Brown featuring a quote from her book, Lies Beneath.

I had such a great time at YA Fest that Jen and I are already starting to plan our next book signing trip together. It made such an impression on me that these authors, whose books I read faithfully, are real people! And, so interesting, too! If you haven't attended a signing yet, start checking out your local libraries and community calendars to see what the next one is planned, and GO!

August 7, 2012

Book #85 - Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8)

Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8), J. R. Ward
512 pages
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Started 7/27/12
Finished 7/31/12

I have been waiting for this book for a long time now. John Matthew was introduced way back in book #2, and since then, he has been one of my favorite characters. I love how Ward has built his character up over time, instead of rushing things with him. It's been worth the wait.

John Matthew has become a shadow of the person he was when he was brought into the Brotherhood fold by Tohrment. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, too. Some of the change has been good - like his post-trans size and his skill as a warrior. Some has not been so good, but then, who can blame him? The only mother he ever knew died. His adoptive father up and left him alone after that. He was targeted by the bully in his training class, and then to top it all off, the woman he fell in love with (and who did not return his affections) is now presumed dead. All that hurt has hardened John and made him cold and extra tough. Until a series of miracles changes everything.

John's past is unique. Fans of the BDB series know this. Yet, his present has distanced himself from his past and made him his own person. After Tohr left, John turned in on himself. He stayed to himself. He was quiet - timid. Once he transitioned, however, it was like John became a man overnight. He's strong, capable, and a formidable fighter. His muteness doesn't slow him down. He has friends who would die for him, and a family in the Brotherhood who will stand by him in anything. But, he didn't have a woman to love until he met Xhex. And, as it turned out, she needed him as much as he needed her.

It was such a slow, delicious build. Seeing John come of age was so satisfying. He never found himself turning to alcohol, drugs or sex like some of his Brothers had when things got rough. Maybe that's what I loved the most about John. The character that Ward created in him is one that men should strive to be like. He has big problems, big enemies and lots of heartache. And, he handles it like a man.

In addition to his hard, warrior side, John is so sweet and sensitive when it comes to Xhex. Which is kinda funny considering that Xhex isn't exactly a girlie girl. Yet, she almost becomes softer in his presence. This really was the ultimate love story, and although the wait was very long, it delivered on all accounts.   

August 5, 2012

Book #84 - Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2)

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2), Aimee Carter
296 pages
urban fantasy
Started 7/26/12
Finished 7/27/12

It always seems as if people worry about the sophomore efforts of authors, especially those who have great success with a debut. Can lightning strike twice in the same place? Was the first effort just a fluke? How many times have we, as readers, found sequels less than fulfilling?

In my humble opinion, Goddess Interrupted was... much BETTER than Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1).

After taking the summer off, Kate Winters comes back to Eden Manor to reconnect with her new husband and to start her education on how to be a good queen in the Underworld. Things, however, are... well, interrupted. Henry seems less than happy to see her, and a new, very scary, enemy thwarts her coronation and threatens the lives of Kate's new family members. The only potential solution lies with Persephone, Henry's former wife, and Kate's current competition for his affections.

Now, I liked Goddess Test. It was good. It was just a little slow, is all. It wasn't very action-packed, and there seemed to be lots of time that passed without anything happening at all. By contrast Goddess Interrupted was go-go-go right from the beginning. I liked that Calliope remained a persistent threat - she's a really good villain with a healthy dose of crazy.

My favorite part of this book is the realism in Kate's and Henry's relationship. They don't know each other very well. They've only been married for six months, and they've been apart for that entire time. It's not enough time to even know what kind of toothpaste your mate uses, much less have a deep, abiding connection. Luckily, the two don't immediately get googlie-eyed. In fact, Henry is very distant and distracted, and Kate finds herself constantly obsessing over whether he really loves her or not. Whether he really wants her there or not. Whether he's still in love with Persephone or not. It's totally the way I would act. However, I will say that after awhile, it does get a bit old and annoying hearing Kate's inner monologue as she runs through her faults and Henry's behavior and whether she's fit to be not only his wife, but his queen. Gosh - do others find me as annoying when I go on and on about such things? Yikes.

There was a ton of action and fighting between the good guys and the bad guys, all of which is not even close to being worked out by the end. Although some situations were resolved more than others, the reader is left with a HUGE cliffhanger. So frustrating when you have to wait a year for the final installment in the Goddess Test series, Goddess Inheritance.    

August 3, 2012

Book #83 - Marked (House of Night #1)

Marked (House of Night #1), P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
306 pages
urban fantasy
Started 7/21/12
Finished 7/25/12

I know, I know - I'm a little late to the House of Night party. Marked has been out for a good five years now, and the HoN series is now nine books long. I've had it on my to-read list for quite some time, but since i've heard a lot of mixed things about the series, I didn't pull the trigger until now. I borrowed Marked as an audio book from the library.

Zoey's life changes forever the day she is marked by a tracker. A moon-shaped tattoo appears in the middle of her forehead, telling everyone that, some day, she will either turn into a vampyre or die. In the meantime, she must transfer to the House of Night to learn about how to live her new life. It's actually not a problem for Zoey since her home life kinda sucked anyway. However, before she gets there, she has an encounter with Nyx, the Greek Goddess of the night, and Nyx bestows upon Zoey some extra special powers along with a unique mark. Once she arrives at the House of Night, she makes friends, and enemies, quickly as she starts to navigate the unfamiliar and fascinating world of vampyres.

Now, I've read a lot of vampire books. They're all a little different in the world building - specifically in how one becomes a vampire. In some (Black Dagger Brotherhood), you must be born a vampire or have vampire blood in your family. In others (Twilight), you must be bitten. I gotta say - this is the first time I've ever heard of turning into a vamp because someone pointed at you. Apparently, the trackers get a list of names, they show up at the kids' doorstep (or, school, in Zoey's case), point at you, and BAM. You're marked as a future vamp and you have a tattoo to prove it. It was sort of... lame, actually. It takes the mystique out of something that's supposed to be mystical.

Once Zoey gets to the House of Night, though, things improved. The world around the vampyre school was well done by the Casts. I mostly liked the characters as well, although the "twins" really worked on my last nerve after awhile. The pacing was pretty good, and I liked the big showdown with the mean girl and her gang at the end.

My hope for future HoN installments is the Zoey herself grows and matures. The world is good, most of the characters are good. I think the Casts are capable of creating a good amount of build-up and drama. But, Zoey is almost 17, so she needs to act that way. Most girls I know that age do not still use the words "poopy" and "boobie" in regular conversation. If the language gets cleaned up a bit, I think this series has great potential.

August 1, 2012

Book #82 - Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1)

Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1), Amanda Hocking
318 pages
urban fantasy
Started 7/22/12
Finished 7/24/12

This was one of those books that I got from the library soley because I thought the cover was pretty. Isn't it? I really didn't know anything about it, but the scroll work around the title and the castle-like structure in the background were so captivating, I had to get it. Now, usually when this happens, the book kinda stinks. Not so here.

Seventeen-year-old Wendy Everly is one of those "angry girls." When you consider that her mother tried to kill her when she was only six, it's kinda hard to blame her, though. In yet another new town and another new school, she meets Finn, a mysterious boy that both captivates and infuriates her. He has the key to what happened to her 11 years before and to what lies before her. If she wants it, that is.

One of the things that bothered me right off the bat was The School Dance. Did you ever notice that, in most YA books, there's a time when our main character gets dressed up nice and pretty, goes to a school dance, and the boy she likes is left speechless? Well, it happens here too (twice, actually!) - 20 pages into the book. No build-up, no opportunity to care about our characters yet. Just, BAM. And, all of a sudden, Wendy's in love and dancing with the guy. It was really weird.

After that, though, the story settles into a better pattern, and the uniqueness of the characters and what they are became more of the focal point. This really isn't a happy story. Our main character had a crap childhood. When she has a chance to lead the life she was born to lead, she finds out that isn't much better. She's not even allowed to love the guy she loves. There were many times I was so upset for her, I was reduced nearly to tears. I would've appreciated at least one or two lighthearted moments.

I do look forward to seeing what happens in the next book in the series, though. I hope Wendy can find the love and acceptance that she so very desperately needs. I hope Finn can find fulfillment. And, I hope Rhys finds a way to be with his real family. Hey - at the very least. the next book's cover is even prettier. :)