Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Description: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Nightshade was a roller coaster of a read for me. Mainly because of Calla. At first I was really irritated by her back and forth emotions between Ren and Shay, but the more I got to know her through Andrea’s writing, the more I realized that there was really no other way for her to react.

Calla lived in a world that was pre-destined. She had no worries about her future, but no say in it either. Being an alpha female in her world meant that she belonged to her alpha male and no one else. Everyone in her world knew that so there was never any temptation to stray from that destiny. She was frustrated by the double standards between the alpha male and the alpha female, but she was determined to follow the rules because of the responsibility that she had to her pack and ‘family.’ Kind of admirable for a teenager.

Meeting Shay blew that all away. He made her see for the first time that her ‘perfect world’ may not be as perfect as she once thought. One really great reason to love Shay. 🙂 Not that he didn’t irritate me a little too. He was supposed to though. Because he was irritating me, meant that he was also irritating Calla and she was the one who needed the push. She was meant to be stronger than her destiny so she could attempt to change it and Shay was the catalyst.

Nighthshade had a lot of twists and turns and the last few chapters kept you on the edge of your seat. The good guys and bad guys changed places frequently, which is a good thing. I like books when they aren’t predictable. Of course there were some things that I did figure out before the characters, but I think it was supposed to be obvious to the reader so you could get mad at the characters for being blind to the obvious. After all, if they would have seen it coming, the book would have ended a lot sooner and without the climax that was nail biting.

I will give you fair warning. If you don’t like books with love triangles, this one will drive you insane. Calla is very confused and torn between Shay and Ren. In a normal world, the decision still wouldn’t be simple, but it wouldn’t be a matter between freedom and predetermined destiny. Because of that, I can forgive Calla. I also know that most people who have read this series have picked one of the boys over the other. I can’t do that yet. I think that there is more to Ren than anyone knows, even the people who have known him all his live. His world has been torn upside down too so a lot of changes are in store for him as well.

The other thing that you need to know before starting Nightshade is that you should consider having Wolfsbane on hand. Trust me, as cliffhangers go, you will want to know what happens next.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Michelle Muto

Description: Grief-stricken by the murder of her twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her ticket to eternal peace and a chance to reunite with her sister. When Keely succeeds in taking her own life, she discovers death isn’t at all what she expected. Instead, she’s trapped in a netherworld on Earth and her only hope for reconnecting with her sister and navigating the afterlife is a bounty-hunting reaper and a sardonic, possibly unscrupulous, demon. But when the demon offers Keely her greatest temptation—revenge on her sister’s murderer—she must uncover his motives and determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, both reaper and demon are keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true—that her every decision will change how, and with whom, she spends eternity.

I put this review off for a day after I finished. Not because it was something I didn’t want to do, but mainly because the book was so good I wanted to make sure I did Michelle’s story justice. I’m still not positive that I can do that, but here it goes.

Don’t Fear the Reaper is a dark story about the afterlife of a teen who commits suicide. It doesn’t glorify suicide and not once is Keely happy with her decision. As a matter of fact, almost immediately she regrets doing what she did and wants to take it back. Even before she knows she is truly dead. It is definitely a book for older more mature teens. It delves into the grief of those left behind and the regret of the teen who took her own life, but it also does so much more than that.

To me, the main focus of Don’t Fear the Reaper was undying love. Not only the love of Keely and her sister and the love that they both had for their parents but also the love that other characters shared and the ultimate sacrifices that many of them made. The book began with suicide and ended with hope and the journey that Michelle takes you on to get you there is unforgettable.

Michelle’s characters have so much depth that you feel like you know them personally by the time you are through. Basically Keely is led through her short time left on Earth by her reaper, Banning and a demon, Daniel. Being a demon you would think that Daniel is the bad guy and in essence he is, but I always found something lovable about him. Maybe it was his sarcastic humor in the beginning. Regardless I think he may have been my favorite character. Banning was a fatherly figure for Keely and mostly the voice of reason, but not perfect. They all played off each other perfectly and the dialog between them was fun to keep up with and all of it moved the story along flawlessly.

I love Michelle’s style of writing and even though I knew that this story was going to be a lot darker than The Book of Lost Souls, I went into it knowing that I was going to love it. I obviously wasn’t disappointed. Was it a hard book to read? Of course, but the action and the suspense made it impossible to put down. Did I shed a few tears? Yes, and I expected to, but the tears weren’t all tears of sadness. It was a very emotional read, especially near the end, but it was worth every minute. Michelle’s take on the afterlife and her touching depictions of what families experience during times of tragedy and grief are well worth any tears shed. Now I’m going to wait very patiently for Michelle to get back to Ivy and her friends, but whatever she writes next, I will be sure to pick up. 🙂

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

The Iron King was a great introduction to the Iron Fey series. Enough said.

Well, maybe I should say a little more. 🙂  Meghan grew up knowing nothing about her background and as we are introduced to her she gets thrown full force into a mythical world that she had no idea even existed. Not only is she thrown into it, but she has a bigger part in it than she could ever have imagined. She begins her journey into the world of the Fey with one goal, to save her brother. Through the course of her journey it becomes much more than that and Nevernever becomes more important to her than she ever expected.

I love the relationships that Meghan creates with the unlikely characters that she meets along the way. Her loyalty to them and her family prove to the reader that she is a heroin worth following. The players keep changing and her allies come from unexpected sources. Julie keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat throughout the whole story. The ending isn’t really a cliff hanger, but it leaves you guessing enough to want to be able to get your hands on the next book. Luckily for me, I started this series late, so I only have to wait long enough for the next book to show up in my mailbox. There are advantages to holding off on a series until the author has a few books completed. In this case, procrastination is a good thing. 🙂

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Description: You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide . . .

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won’t let her get away again.

OK, I’ll admit it. I am totally hooked on Bones and Cat. It’s been a long time since I read through a book this fast. I currently have books 3-6 ready and waiting. I’m not saying that I will read them all at once, but it is tempting.
One Foot in the Grave opens 4 years after Halfway to the Grave ends. At first I was kind of dismayed that Cat and Bones had stayed apart that long, but as the story unfolded it made sense. Their commitment and love for each other wouldn’t have meant nearly as much if it would only have been a few months. It gave Cat time to prove herself to her team of agents and to establish herself. It also gave Bones and Cat plenty of time to be totally miserable, which made for a perfect reunion.
One Foot in the Grave introduced some new characters and gave some interesting depth to familiar ones. There was plenty of action, mystery and the sexual tension between Cat and Bones to keep you turning pages and making you not want to put it down until you find out what happens next.
I’m not going to say much more because I don’t want to give anything away. There are a few unexpected twists and turns from beginning to end, but I want you to discover them for yourselves. If you haven’t been introduced to Cat and Bones yet, grab Halfway to the Grave and get ready to be hooked right along with me.

Envy by J.R. Ward

Description: A man and a woman tread the lines of danger, desire, and deliverance in the new novel of the Fallen Angels from the #1New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

As the son of a serial killer, homicide detective Thomas “Veck” DelVecchio, Jr., grew up in the shadow of evil. Now, on the knife-edge between civic duty and blind retribution, he atones for the sins of his father- while fighting his inner demons. Assigned to monitor Veck is Internal Affairs officer Sophia Reilly, whose interest in him is both professional and arousingly personal. And Veck and Sophia have another link: Jim Heron, a mysterious stranger with too many answers… to questions that are deadly. When Veck and Sophia are drawn into the ultimate battle between good and evil, their fallen angel savior is the only thing that stands between them and eternal damnation.

Okay, my opinion hasn’t changed. I still love this series. I did go into this one with an attitude however, so I may have been a little jaded. FYI – there is nothing worse than browsing through comments on a fan site and stumbling upon a spoiler that is so blatant that you want to smack the person who wrote it. The whole time I read the book I knew what was coming, which kind of ruined the suspense, but it didn’t take away from the emotion that the event in question caused. The only thing that I’m saying is that there will be tears. Now, on with the review.

Jim’s soul to be saved in Envy belongs to Veck. He is evidently a character introduced in Lover Unleashed, which I haven’t read yet so I can’t really recommend reading one before the other. It didn’t seem to take away from the story so I don’t think it matters. Veck’s love interest is Reilly and their conflict and inevitable romance is front and center. The sexual tension between this pair is fought harder than I think it has been between any other couple so far. They had so much going against them that it was really debatable about whether or not they would ever get beyond it all. That in itself made it hard to put this one down.

All the players were torn apart emotionally in this one, so no one was immune to Ward’s usual torment. Eddie, Jim and Adrian were at odds, Veck was at odds with his past and his feelings for Reilly, Devina was at odds with her existence in general with Jim being her main attraction, even Nigel had is own side story going on in the background. There is definitely enough in Envy to keep everyone interested no matter who your favorite character is.

As far as the tears go, you’ll just have to read it and see. I won’t give anything away, but know this, you won’t see it coming. Do yourself a favor and don’t read any fan pages that mention anything at all about Envy until you’ve had a chance to read it for yourself. You can thank me later.

Impossible by Jason Letts

Description: In the second book of The Inevitable Trilogy, a new threat puts Nathan’s life in grave danger. Coming to terms with his predicament proves a tall order for Nathan, troubling his family and his girlfriend. It’s up to his sister and the magical spirit who came into his life to save him, and to do so they’ll have to venture beyond what anyone thought possible.

Impossible starts where Inevitable left off. Everything that Nathan, Cammie and Apoxy fought to change in Inevitable seems to have been for nothing in the end. Or does it? Nathan has resigned himself to his fate, but Cammie and Apoxy have a different plan and won’t give up without fighting whether Nathan wants them to or not.

I think what I liked most about this trilogy is that is different than any other paranormal series that I have read. The concept is unique enough that it is very fresh. No vampires, shifters, ghosts, zombies or aliens but Apoxy is definitely not of this world. The story that Jason weaves with Apoxy, Nathan, Cammie and even Eve keeps getting more and more intricate and by the time you get to Incredible you are ready to believe that almost anything is possible and that fate isn’t necessarily unchangeable.

You won’t want to start reading this trilogy without having all three on hand and since one flows right into the other without a break there is no lost time between the books. The Inevitable trilogy is a sweet, unique love story that is worth getting lost in.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Description: In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love — the light and the dark, the warm and the cold — in a way you will never forget.

Because of the way Maggie left Sam and Grace at the end of Shiver, I wasn’t in a rush to read Linger. Their story could have ended there and I would have been happy. I would have gotten to it eventually, I was just taking my time. Then I lent Shiver to my oldest daughter. She called me as soon as she was finished and asked if I had Linger. That was the end of my procrastination. Both Linger and Forever were ordered and here we are.

Linger brings everything front and center as far as the characters go. We learn a lot more about each individual character including the new pack members, namely Cole. Maggie’s in depth descriptions help you get lost in not only the surroundings but in the emotions that each character is feeling. One of my favorite aspects of Maggie’s writing in this series is that she gives each character a voice. She shares the point of view of all the key players individually and it really adds to the character depth. She has a way of making you feel the emotions of each person, both happy and sad. Granted, there isn’t a lot of happy in this book, but when it is there, you feel it.

If I had one complaint about this book it is I wish there was at least one parent that had their act together and at least acted like they cared about their kids. There were a couple of adults that had some redeeming qualities and acted like they actually cared, but they weren’t the parents of these teens. I’m not finding fault in the story, I just wished that Sam, Grace, Isabelle and Cole didn’t feel like they had no one to turn to but themselves. It wouldn’t have made for as dramatic a story, but it also wouldn’t have made me feel like I needed to shake some sense into some of these adults. Grace’s parents irritated me in Shiver, but they infuriated me in Linger. It wasn’t the fact that they punished their daughter, that is a parental right and responsibility. What bothered me, and Grace, was that they acted like parents only when they really wanted to. The rest of the time Grace was on her own. One of my favorite lines in the book came from Cole and is directed to Grace’s dad near the end of the book. I don’t want to give anything away, but you’ll know what I’m talking about as soon as you see it, trust me. If it was a scene in a movie, it would have been followed by cheering.

Ok, enough with the soap box. As happy as I was to leave Grace and Sam at the end of Shiver, there is no possible way that I can now wait to start Forever. I’m going to have to trust Maggie to help these kids overcome all the hardship that they went through and make me as happy with their outcome as I was at the end of Shiver.

The Commander and the Den Assan Rautu by Michelle Franklin

Description: The Kingdom of Frewyn is being invaded by the Galleisian infantry and at the forefront of the battle is Boudicca MacDaede, a First Captain in the Frewyn armed forces. Her regiment is charged with defending the borders between the two nations, but when Frewyn’s last line of defense falls, Captain MacDaede enlists the assistance of a Haanta, one of giants from the islands to the far north. Promising to free him from his imprisonment in exchange for his help, she gains his trust long enough for them to win the battle and save the Frewyn border from being breached. The giant’s freedom is granted, but Rautu cannot return home unless he redeems himself in the eyes of his people for past his transgressions. He is offered a place by the captain’s side, and together, they defeat the Galleisian forces and become the saviors of Frewyn.

One year later, King Alasdair Brennin takes the Frewyn throne, Boudicca is made commander, Gallei and Frewyn reach an accord, and Rautu is granted an invitation home. He is eager to return and see his brothers but finds it difficult to leave Frewyn without Boudicca at his side. He has become accustomed to her company and the idea of being made to live without her begins to distress him. Rautu invites the commander to the islands in hopes of finding a way for them to remain together, but when they arrive at the white shores of Sanhedhran, not everything goes as planned: one of the dangerous Haanta magi is freed, Rautu’s three brothers are strangely missing, and the neighboring nation of Thellis leads an attack on the islands.

Together, the commander and the Den Asaan Rautu must find a way to unite their two nations and defend against the Thellisian fleets, but can they do so successfully when an envious Frewyn king, and impending war with Thellis, and a cruel Haanta military leader would keep them apart?

I had been hearing a lot about this book from people I follow on Twitter and it peaked my curiosity. When Michelle asked me if I would consider reading it for review, I thought, “why not?” Now I really need to thank Michelle for introducing me to this unique world she has created.

I am a fan of paranormal anything, but I can honestly say that giants are one set of paranormals that I can’t remember reading about. The world that Michelle has created is totally unique, at least for this reader. There is plenty of action and intrigue to go along with the magic and sexual tension. It’s also a fairly short read, so it’s perfect for a weekend escape. I went into The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu not knowing what to expect and came away with a new series to follow.

Part of what I liked about Michelle’s book was the way the main characters played off each other. Their sexual tension was almost playful which made it fun. The Commander was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and had more patience than most women in her position would have in waiting for it. The big, strong giant was at times ferocious and at others child like. When you threw their magi ward into the mix it got even more interesting. It was one of those situations where everyone around them knew they belonged together even though they thought they were being totally discreet, even with each other. It was fun to ‘watch’ from the sidelines.

The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu is Volume 1 in this series and I for one can’t wait to see what happens in the next installments. There were plenty of questions unanswered and mysteries left to solve at the end of this one.

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Description: Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

Here’s another series that for some reason I held off on starting. Not sure why I find the need to hesitate when it comes to starting a new series. Really, what do I have to lose? If I don’t like the first book, I don’t have to continue so why pause? I honestly have no idea.
I love paranormal romance of any kind, but vampires are my weakness. It isn’t just because I am following the craze that seems to surround the undead lately. I’ve been in love with vampires since even before Interview With a Vampire. Maybe I peaked at Dark Shadows too many times when I was a kid and no one thought I was looking. Who knows, but regardless of when my obsession started, the point is I’m hooked and there is no turning back.
Which brings us to Halfway to the Grave with Cat and Bones. Cat is the perfect heroine. She is vulnerable, but not weak. She is innocent, but not prudish. But most of all, she is loyal to those that she loves to a fault. Even when she doesn’t want to admit that she loves them. And then there is Bones. I’m not sure exactly how to sum him up. He was so sure of himself and his love of Cat that it was heartbreaking to see how much she fought it. He was romantic, loyal, sensitive, damaged (a very important character trait among the undead), beautiful and more human than most of the humans that considered him a monster.
The banter between Cat and Bones was priceless. Even the nonverbal banter that Cat had with herself was great. Cat’s coming to terms with her feelings and what she thought Bones’ feelings were gave the reader a great insight into her character. Frost brought both of their feelings to the surface in so many ways you were laughing one minute and teary the next. Just a warning, the end of this one will make you want to make sure you have the 2nd book in the series close at hand.
Come to think of it, the one good thing about waiting to start a series until it is established is that you don’t have to wait on the next book. It would be awful to think that I had to wait to find out what happens to Cat and Bones after coming to the end of Halfway to the Grave. Hmmm… maybe I did put some fore thought into this waiting game after all.

Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

Description: John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown. Taken in by The Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was-or his true identity.

Xhex has long steeled herself against the attraction to John Matthew. Until fate intervenes and she discovers that love, like destiny, is inevitable.

I’m not exactly sure where to begin. I stumbled upon this series hunting for new vampire books. Not sure why it took me so long. I even had the first book sitting on my shelf for almost a month untouched. Then I read a review that peaked my curiosity and decided to give Dark Lover a try. After reading Wrath and Beth’s story, there was no turning back. Eight books later and I’m still as enthralled with the series as I was in the beginning. Lover Mine is John and Xhex’s story. They both have a lot of pain in their past that neither one of them are comfortable sharing with each other or anyone else. Some of John’s pain is fresh and even caused by Xhex herself. Xhex’s pain is much older, except for the pain she has caused John. In her attempt to protect him and keep her dark side hidden from him she pushed him away and it’s killing her. As they begin to open up to each other, they realize that they are in love but they also know that they can’t be together. What better set up for JR Ward’s torture to begin? Through all the books in the series I have always held out hope that in the end, no matter how many obstacles are thrown at these bonded pairs, they will end up happy and together. In this one, I was afraid to hope. In the interest of a spoiler free review, I’m not going to let you know how it turns out either. You’ll just have to take the emotional roller coaster ride for yourself. True to form, JR Ward doesn’t let the other characters out of the torturous fun. Tohr, Blay, Quinn, V and even a few new faces also get their fair share of emotional upheaval. Lash doesn’t disappoint as the bad guy and FYI, JR Ward’s treatment of him in this book is pure poetic justice. As promised in the preview, Darius does return. As I was reading the back story of Darius I felt the need to skim instead of taking it all in. I wasn’t sure how it was all going to fit. Don’t take that approach when you read this book, trust me. His return as the Scribe Virgin promised is here, I just never saw it coming. I read books 6, 7 & 8 as part of a challenge. Not that I wouldn’t have read them anyway, but it may require me to devour them again – but later. I’m even holding off on book 9 until it comes out in paperback. Emotionally drained is an understatement when it comes to a description of how you feel when you walk away from these books. It took me a while to find them, but I am officially hooked on these BDB boys.